SUNDAE SUNDAY: So-basic-but-so-good, what-you-need-after-a-rough-week brownie sundae

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Despite being a picky eater as a child, I never had any qualms with eating a bowl of ice cream after dinner each night...as long as it was vanilla ice cream, of course.  No whipped cream, no cherry on top, no sauces, no flavor substitutions and definitely no nuts sprinkled on top. (How boring, right?) While this perplexed my parents, it puzzled servers at restaurants even more.

Eventually, I discovered the awesomeness that is a hot fudge sundae, and slowly but surely my ice cream palette expanded.  

Because I had a pretty rough week last week stemming from stressors at both of my jobs (hello, anxiety spikes), I intentionally chose two comforting options for you to vote on for this week’s sundae, knowing that’s what I needed: blondie vs. brownie, with brownie reigning supreme.

Nostalgia was the goal, and this sundae delivers. No frills, no crazy flavor deviations: just a sturdy, fudgy brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce.  

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So-basic-but-so-good, what-you-need-after-a-rough-week brownie sundae

By: Kathleen Hayes; component attributions and yields are listed below

Baker’s notes: my Sundae Sunday recipes are on-the-fly in nature, so they’re not as thoroughly tested as my other recipes.  All of these components turned out great, but I’ll caution you that the brownie here is what I use for my s’mores brownies; it is not the prettiest or most flavorful brownie, nor is it my favorite brownie recipe, but it’s a sturdy, fudgy brownie that works well as a base in multi-component desserts like this one.

 

Ugly, fudgy brownies - recipe from SF Cooking School; yield = 8” x 8” pan of brownies (I made 4 massive brownies from it)

MISE IT

  • 113g butter (1 stick)

  • 113g unsweetened chocolate (4 ounces; I use Guittard)

  • 243g (organic) sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 66g all purpose flour

MAKE IT

  • Preheat oven to 338 degrees F or nearest interval. If you have a convection oven, you may want to decrease the oven temperature and/or baking time.

  • Over a bain marie, melt chocolate and butter in a large mixing bowl (this bowl will end up with all of your ingredients eventually).

  • With a spatula, stir in your sugar until it is incorporated.

  • Whisk in your eggs and vanilla extract until combined and glossy.

  • Add in your flour and gently fold into batter with spatula until just combined.

  • With a parchment-lined 8” x 8” square baking dish (parchment has two overhangs so you’ll be able to lift out the cooled brownie post-bake), pour your batter into the dish and spread evenly with your spatula.

  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top isn’t jiggly anymore and a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

  • Let cool entirely in pan.

 

Vanilla ice cream - adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book; yield = 1 quart

MISE IT

  • 470g heavy cream (~2 cups)

  • 240g whole milk (~1 cup)

  • 200g (organic) sugar

  • 48g egg yolks (~3 eggs)

  • 4 pinches of kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

MAKE IT

  • Create an ice bath for your final mixture to cool down in a large mixing bowl.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, and salt.  Heat over medium or medium-high until it’s just at a soft boil, then remove from heat.

  • Whisk together your sugar and egg yolks until combined. This will form a thick paste.

  • Temper your egg mixture by ladling (or carefully pouring straight from the pan) ¼  - ⅓ cup of your hot cream mixture into the bowl with your eggs+sugar, whisking constantly to start melding the two mixtures together.  Repeat with a few more ladles worth of the cream mixture, and then transfer the tempered mixture back into your saucepan.

  • Over medium-high heat, heat your base and use a spatula to draw figure-8s shapes repeatedly through the mixture to keep everything moving so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Do this until it thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 170 - 172 F, then remove from heat. (You’ve made creme anglaise!)

  • Pour your creme anglaise mixture through a chinoise or fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath. Add vanilla paste to the strained base.

  • Stir periodically and let mixture cool down to room temperature.  Then let mixture chill for at least an hour and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

  • Before you spin your ice cream: place a baking dish and spatula in the freezer (I use the smaller of these two dishes) so your finished ice cream will go into a chilled container and not melt.

  • Follow the instructions for your ice cream machine and spin your ice cream.  If your machine’s bowl isn’t your final storage container, transfer your finished ice cream from the machine to the chilled baking dish and let it set for a few hours.

Chocolate sauce - I used leftovers from the fudge ripple sauce I made in my s’mores sundae recipe (view recipe in a new window HERE)

Sticky caramel sauce - I was gifted this batch of caramel sauce from Laci at Wind & Rye Kitchen; it’s a delicious caramel but calls for not-usually-in-a-home-kitchen ingredients (you've been warned); yield = 1 cup (scales up nicely if you want to make more)

MISE IT

  • 100g sugar

  • 90g glucose

  • 16g butter, room temperature

  • 120g heavy cream

  • 2.5g pectin

  • 4g sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 vanilla bean, scraped

MAKE IT

  • In a large pot, combine 100g sugar and glucose and add enough water to cover sugar so it resembles wet sand. Wet your finger and remove any random granules of sugar that are on the sides of the pot.

  • Over medium-high heat, cook sugar syrup until it is a dark caramel color.  Stir in butter.

  • In a small container/bowl, whisk together 4g sugar with the pectin (this prevents pectin from clumping when it’s added to the cream).

  • In a small pot, warm cream and vanilla paste until it is warm to the touch (~90 degrees F), then whisk in sugar/pectin.

  • Carefully add cream to the carmelized sugar, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula until it’s boiling.

  • Cook caramel until it’s the thickness you want (I like a more viscous, thick caramel here), then cool caramel. Use once cooled or store in a sealed container in the fridge, letting it warm up before using again.

 

Special equipment - across all components

  • Ice cream maker

  • Chinoise or fine-mesh strainer

  • Thermometer (I like my Thermapen)

  • 8” x 8” square baking dish

  • Stand mixer

 

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ASSEMBLE IT

  • Start with a small dessert plate, and pipe a dab of caramel sauce to secure the brownie on the plate.

  • Place the brownie on the center of the plate. (Optional: heat brownie up.)

  • Scoop 1 (or 2!) scoops of vanilla ice cream and stack on top of the brownie.

  • Drizzle with chocolate sauce and caramel.

  • Sprinkle with cocoa nibs.

  • Devour immediately.

 

TWEAK IT

  • Heat up any combination of brownie, caramel, and chocolate sauce. I skipped this for the ease of photographing the sundae but highly encourage it.

  • Make cocoa nib-infused ice cream instead of vanilla.

  • Sprinkle with chocolate chips instead of cocoa nibs.

  • Swap in a different brownie recipe. :)

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