Quite possibly my husband’s favorite food group – this week was all about ice cream. We covered different styles of ice cream, gelatos, semifreddos, frozen mousses, sorbets and granitas. I’ve played around with different ice cream flavors at home in the past, but they pretty much all used the same general technique. I had no idea how much there was to know about various ice cream styles, the different techniques for infusing flavors and how to toggle ingredients to affect things like richness, texture and melting point.
The vast majority of our hours in class were spent making and spinning all the types of frozen desserts mentioned above, and of course, tasting them. I’m selective about ice cream (but that’s true of most desserts) so I’ll rarely choose to eat it unless I think it’s a really exceptional ice cream. Of the dozens of ice creams we made, there were many that I LOVED. But my favorite? Oatmeal cookie gelato. Chef Nicole asked us to come up with our own flavor to pair and plate with an apple tart. I desperately wanted to recreate an oatmeal cookie ice cream that I love from a local place, so this was the perfect opportunity. I’m in love with the end result and it came out exactly how I was picturing in my head. That might be the only ice cream I’m eating for the foreseeable future.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I loved our sorbets and granitas from this week. They’re so simple to make and use real fruits and vegetables, so I know I’ll be making them again. I juiced a cucumber and a bunch of basil for my granita, added some lime and simple syrup and thought it was downright delicious. I can already see the possibility of a fun frozen alcoholic dessert come summertime.
On Tuesday afternoon we took a short break from ice cream making, to welcome Jeff Larsen as a guest chef covering gluten free baking. I’m (clearly) not someone who eats gluten free, but my Mom has been gluten free for years and I’m really interested in understanding more about it. I absolutely loved all the information he gave us on alternative grains and understanding how to use other ingredients to build structure and create amazing baked goods that just happen to be gluten free. I’m excited to experiment with some new grains and add to my gluten free repertoire.
We were so busy eating ice cream that somehow our second exam kind of snuck up on Friday. Once again we had an hour long written exam covering everything we’ve learned in the last five weeks, plus a three hour practical exam. If you put aside the slight added stress from desperately wanting to score well, I think I kind of love our exams. I always love a good challenge and a timed one is even better. The practical portion is a fun test in time management and an opportunity to push myself to work smarter. We officially move into our final unit of curriculum on Monday and it almost makes me want to cry. I can’t believe how fast it’s flying by because when the term started it seemed like forever before we started in on the two topics I’m most excited for. 1. Laminated doughs and 2. Bread. We’re now starting on on our first week of bread and I could not be happier.