Deconstructing Christmas (Almond Joy Ice Cream)
I am writing from my friends’ apartment in Brooklyn, where I have come for a visit. For the past hour, I have been trying to figure out how to cover up what I did to their gingerbread house.
After they went to work this morning, I ate a bowl of cereal and poked around their place. There is–or was–a neat gingerbread house on the dining room table. There was something wrong with it, though: pieces of twizzler were coming out of the chimney, which made it look like it was on fire. This detracted in a major way from its festiveness.
So I ate one little piece of chimney twizzler. Unfortunately, the chimney twizzlers turned out to be structural support twizzlers, and now I am in an emergency gingerbread construction situation of Habitat for Humanity proportions. I tried to prop the walls back up with some frosted gingerbread men that I found in the cabinet, but they weren’t to scale. So I ate them too.
Then it occurred to me that my friends were probably saving the gingerbread men for a holiday party.
At this point, the right thing to do is shop for another gingerbread house kit, twizzlers, and some gingerbread men. But leaving the apartment presents its own set of problems.
For one thing, when the Bloggess linked to this site on Sunday, the ends of my hair spontaneously combusted from the surprise of so many new and welcome visitors. Now my hair has a feathery shine to it– which is fine, but let me remind you that a 20-year-old derelict posing as a licensed hair dresser recently cut my bangs into the shape of a rare tropical fern.
As a result, a normal person might mistake me for a feral peacock right now. A slightly damaged person on two glasses of chardonnay might even report me to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Fish & Game Division. And in Brooklyn at happy hour, it’s safe to assume everyone’s tied at least two on.
I’d rather not get poached or tranquilized today. I’m pretty sure it would make me an even worse house guest.
So I am going to sit tight for now. I am going to sit here and hope that when my friends come home, (a) they’ll understand that a broken gingerbread house is an important social commentary on the mortgage backed-securities crisis and the perils of home ownership, or (b) they’ll be distracted by the Almond Joy ice cream I made them.
This is the best ice cream I’ve ever made. It’s not eggy, or too heavy, or over-rich. It’s creamy and almondy.
I began by tweaking Helene Dujardin’s adaptation of the toasted coconut ice cream in David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. The recipe called for one little teaspoon of rum, which made me sad, so I added more.
While the custard was churning, I threw in chopped Almond Joys and slivered almonds. The result was the best ice cream I have had outside of Italy.
Almond Joy Ice Cream
1 c. dried shredded coconut
1 c. whole milk
2 c. heavy cream
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. rum
1/2 c. toasted slivered almonds (optional)
3 regular-sized packages of Almond Joy (each package is actually 2 little candy bars) or 8 Halloween-sized Almond Joys
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or use a toaster oven).
Spread the shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast until light brown. This will probably take a little longer than 5 minutes but it will burn so fast with so little warning, that it’s really worth it to stare at it at after the five minute mark.
Remove coconut from the baking sheet immediately and let cool.
Separately, toast the slivered almonds if you will be throwing some in (this is optional but I loved the added crunch).
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk and the cream with the salt and the toasted coconut.
Once the mixture is warm, remove it from the heat and cover it so that the flavors steep into the milk and cream. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium heat until it’s hot. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a medium bowl.
While whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. (You do this so the yolks don’t cook.)
Transfer the entire thing back to the sauce pan and heat over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes). Be sure to stir and not boil the mixture.
Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it through the sieve. Get all the coconut juice out by squishing the coconut against the sieve with the back of a wooden spoon. (Then discard the coconut shavings.) Stir the rum into the mixture.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill. Chill for as long as your patience allows. I chilled mine for approximately 3 hours.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn pursuant to the manufacturer’s instructions. A few minutes before you will remove the ice cream from the machine, toss in the chopped up Almond Joys and (if you like) the slivered almonds.
Serve immediately (for soft ice cream) or freeze for several hours (for harder ice cream).
N.B. Alas, if Thunder were here in New York, it would be so easy to blame the destruction of the gingerbread house on her. So very easy.