Tag Archives: dessert

A Tale of Two Measurements

25 Sep

I have a small machine designed to make frozen desserts.  I enjoy using this fine appliance, but I do occasionally encounter some problems.  I must admit that each difficulty has been what my father would call An Operator Problem, rather than a problem with the appliance itself.

The most common Operator Problem occurs when The Operator forgets to store the freezer bowl in the freezer overnight before using the machine.

Not frozen.

In case you are unfamiliar with the idea, a freezer bowl is a container into which one pours a liquid mixture, so that while churning, it may freeze.

Surprisingly, in my boundless enthusiasm for the production and consumption of chilled desserts, I have forgotten this crucial step on more than one occasion…okay, three times.

In other words, I’m a slow learner, and rather easily distracted.  To the amusement of my family, I have mindlessly switched on the machine, set a timer, and returned after thirty minutes–to an embarrassing realization, and a bowl full of liquid.

Not today.  Today…something else happened.

To be honest, today was the third day I had planned to make strawberry ice cream.

On Day One, the children had already gobbled up most of the strawberries…and the freezer bowl wasn’t frozen.  No go.

On Day Two, the strawberries were in full supply, and the bowl was actually frozen! Conditions seemed to be in my favor.  Unfortunately, I had neglected to read the recipe fully.  The strawberries would require an additional two hours to “macerate” ahead of time, before being added to the mix in the last five minutes.  No time.

Today, I carefully allotted time in my busy day to prepare the strawberries, and macerate them for two hours.  This “maceration” business was new to me, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and as I guessed, it is just a fancy term meaning that my strawberries would get soft and come apart easily from soaking in sugar and lemon juice for a long time.  No problem.

Day Three took a wrong turn when I added the macerated strawberries–as directed– to the semi-solid ice cream base, for the last five minutes of the freezing process.  At this point, the ice cream quickly lost its frozen texture… and continued to gradually increase in volume.  I became suspicious.

You can probably guess where this story is headed.

Initially, the pale pink ooze was just around the top edges.  When it began slowly dripping down the sides, my suspicion turned to concern, but I remained cautiously optimistic.  The drips seemed to freeze against the side of the bowl.  There were only a few moments left on the timer.  It would be fine.

After less than four minutes, The Operator turned off the machine, conceding that melted ice cream dripping inside the motorized base might result in the demise of a useful appliance, not to mention a tragic waste of ice cream.

Today would have been an excellent day for detailed photographic documentation, but I was a teensy bit busy, and I didn’t want my camera to get sticky.

In the end, the machine was saved from Mount St. Strawberry, the dessert was stored safely in the freezer, and The  Operator was left to wonder how she ended up with too much ice cream.

Conclusion:  A conversion problem.

I am certain the milk, cream and minor ingredients were measured correctly.

The strawberry requirement, on the other hand, read as: a pint of strawberries, stemmed and sliced.  My strawberry container said 16 oz, which translates to two cups, and two cups is a pint.  However, the amount of strawberries in the container will not fit into a two cup measurement…and whether I slice before or after measurement, a pound of strawberries is not a pint of strawberries.  Of course, I didn’t measure at all, since I read the 16 oz label and decided it was what I needed, without considering the relationship between weight and volume.  Oops.

I actually minored in math, believe it or not– but I never did like conversions!

All’s well that ends well.  The ice cream has a lovely strawberries-and-cream flavor, and as an added bonus, I can now spell the word macerate, and use it in a sentence.

Less is More: Part Two

26 Jul

As I continue to find ways to simplify and get more results from less effort, I begin to wonder if I am being clever, or just very lazy.  Maybe both.

Recently, I made a baked peach dessert that looked very promising on paper,  but sadly it failed to live up to its promise.  My kitchen was a sticky shambles, I had spent a lot of time, and all I had to show for it was a high calorie dessert that I didn’t really like.

Leaving that experience behind, I found a delicious baked fruit dessert that takes less time, less effort and fewer ingredients.  The original recipe (from a British cookbook called Best Ever Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook, by Jenny White and Joanna Farrow) calls for apricots, sugar, cream cheese and gingersnaps.  It’s easy enough.  And yet, I wanted to make it “less”.  Apricots were not handy, so I went for peaches.  Cream cheese is fattening so I went for the 1/3 less fat variety.  I also cut the sugar in half, and I didn’t use the special superfine sugar called for in the book, just some regular grainy sugar from Costco.

I loved the flavor contrast, but it must be eaten fresh from the oven or it separates, leaving the ginger crumb topping a soggy mess.

So, outside of party planning, I will opt for reducing it to cut fresh peaches with crumbled gingersnaps, straight to the plate.  Less time, and a cleaner kitchen will result.  No cooking, no mixing, no fat…  Okay, maybe a small scoop from a tub of whipped cream cheese if I feel decadent.