Monday, July 7, 2014

it's healthy because it's fruit

i do not like warm fruit.

poached pears in a wine sauce? pass. thai-style fried bananas? nope. warm apple pie a la mode? sure, but make it a double scoop of ice cream and skip the pie. no crumbles or crostatas either. if the fruit is warm, count me out. (pineapple might be my only exception.) i am semi-okay with baked but cooled fruit desserts so long as it doesn't taste "warm."

so, given my dislike for baked fruit desserts it might be surprising that i even attempted joy the baker's triple berry cinnamon swirl bread.
this recipe was part of her summer baking bootcamp, where she invites readers to bake and post pics of the featured recipe. i didn't actually make it in time for the "deadline" but felt the need to try something new. plus, joy's pictures and post made everything look so approachable and delicious. i already had all the ingredients in my kitchen so it was kind of a no-brainer. the instructions were easy to follow, aside from my sloppy bread braid (everything sort of slid out and made a small mess), and the finished bread looked pretty enough... but, alas, my feelings for warm fruit prevailed. in fact, i think tasting cooked berries made them stronger. ::sigh:: i tried~ 
[NOTE: this has no bearing on the actual recipe from joy the baker--that was solid. give it a go if you like (warm) berries and cinnamon bread.]

okay, enough about what i don't like, let's talk about summertime frozen treats: popsicles and ice cream! i put my birthday gifts to the test and made some zoku pops and a batch of ample hills ice cream.

for the zoku pops, i played around with two flavor combos using white peaches. the first was strawberry and peach with a hint of lime. i wanted to keep the fruit pure so i just blended each and didn't add any sweeteners. the strawberry layer was fresh and tart, but the peach flavor was so faint it was almost nonexistent.
i still had a couple peaches left and decided to try cooking them down to reduce the water content and bring out the flavor. i added a bit of sugar and left the skin on the peaches which resulted in a rosy pink purée with a concentrated white peach flavor that was lightly sweet and floral. it's ironic how heat actually improved the fruit in this case--go figure. i mixed some of the purée into plain greek yogurt and layered it with pure purée. the layers were a little messy (haven't quite mastered filling the zoku pop maker...), and the greek yogurt froze harder and icier than expected, but overall the pops were just what i wanted: peachy and juicy.

with all the great fruit available during the summer it's hard to pass up basketfuls of bright red strawberries. the sweet smell of the berries is enough to entice me. as with most berries, i have a habit of stockpiling and then panicking when i can't eat them fast enough. fortunately my latest berry hoarding turned into deliciously creamy ice cream that reminded me of a really good strawberry milkshake. (mmm, milkshakes~)
this was the first recipe i tried from the ample hills cookbook and also the first strawberry ice cream recipe i've tried. it's funny how long it took me to make strawberry ice cream considering it was my childhood favorite--probably because haagen-dazs has sort of perfected the flavor. i was pretty pleased with how this came out, and because there weren't any eggs used there was no cooking involved (always nice when it's 90 degrees out with 85% humidity o.O). the only thing to note is that you have to prep the berries for 6-8 hours before combining them with the milk and cream. next time i would consider adding some strawberry chunks to really amp up the fruit flavor. plus, i like the occasional burst of frozen berry; it's like a mini treasure hunt, digging around for that surprise bite. but for now, i guess i'll have to make do with spoonfuls treasure-less but ultra creamy frozen strawberry deliciousness.

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:: ample hills creamery strawberries & cream ::
(recipe from ample hillls creamery)

1 pound (455g)fresh or frozen strawberries
1 1/4 cups (250g) organic cane sugar
1 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (90g) skim milk powder
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream

1. place the strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle 1/2 cup (100g) of the sugar over them, tossing to coat them evenly. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 6 to 8 hours. unwrap the bowl; you'll notice that the strawberries are now sitting in a pool of red, sugary water. drain the strawberries in a colander in the sink.
2. combine the milk, skim milk powder, remaining 3/4 cup (150g) sugar, and strawberries in a blender. puree until smooth.
3. pour the mixture into a bowl and add the cream. stir to combine. transfer the base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer's instructions.
4. transfer the ice cream to a storage container. serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

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