The flavors here are so complementary and play off each other perfectly: the salt and caramelized sugar in the ice cream, the warm honey and Vin Santo sauce—delicious.
Note: Danger! The ice cream uses a dry-burn technique. I don't add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:
Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color--like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.
Excerpted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2011.
- For the Sundaes:
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 1 1/2 cups Vin Santo or Il Santo
- 1 whole star anise (optional)
- Salty Caramel Ice Cream (*see below)
- 6 Biscotti (**see below)
- 6 Brandied Cherries (***see below)
- Salty Caramel Ice Cream:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- The Cake/Biscotti:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
- Brandied Cherries:
- 1 pound fresh black cherries, pitted, or frozen black cherries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brandy
Make Ice Cream: Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon zipper-lock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Make the Cake/Biscotti: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan (not the sides) or line it with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Add the vanilla; set aside.
Combine the eggs, egg yolks, both sugars, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip for 8 to 10 minutes, until very thick, light lemon in color, and tripled in volume. Fold in the flour. Fold in the melted butter mixture.
Pour into the baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let cool for 10 minutes on a rack, then unmold and let cool completely.
**Biscotti (variation): Make the cake adding 1/2 cup almonds or other nuts or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or other spice to the batter, if desired. Let the cake cool completely, then refrigerate it so that it is really firm. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lay the cake on a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, slice it in half, then slice each half crosswise into 4 slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 25 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until golden brown.
For the biscotti cubes for ice creams, cut each slice lengthwise in half and then cut into cubes. Toast on a baking sheet in a 325°F oven, turning the cubes as necessary, for about 12 minutes, or until golden.
Make Cherries: Combine the cherries, sugar, and brandy in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Refrigerate, overnight if possible, before serving.
Make Sundaes: Combine the honey, Vin Santo, and star anise, if using, in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until warm. Remove from the heat and discard the star anise, if you used it.
Place 2 small scoops of ice cream on each plate or in each bowl. Top each with 1/3 cup warm sauce and garnish with a biscotti, whipped cream, and a cherry.