Thursday, September 27, 2007

9-14-07

Whenever I've cooked anything interesting recently, it’s been for a party. Last night was my friend’s 27th birthday, a boisterous barbeque held inside her house on account of the cloudy autumnal weather. This lovely friend however, is gluten-intolerant, and it seems these days that more and more of my friends have food allergies—wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, etc. etc. Many such friends were present last night. These limitations have at times irritated me, especially when it comes to eating out (at least they’re not vegans), but on this particular occasion I was excited by the challenge that they posed. I wanted my friend to have a birthday cake, even if she can’t eat wheat. So following much contemplation on her tastes and preferences, along with a field trip to the neighborhood health food store, I created a tasty recipe—an ice cream pie.
First I thought of an easy route—mud pie, but then I saw spotted of the last berries of the season and came up with something even better. Here it is, but note that the process takes 2 days because of setting the layers in the freezer—

E.B.’s BERRY BIRTHDAY CAKE
Ingredients:
-1 bag of Newman’s Own Wheat-Free Chocolate Cookies
-1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
-2 T. butter
-1 large (Breyer’s size) carton of organic vanilla ice cream
-1 small carton (Haagen-daz size) of organic raspberry ice cream*
-1 pint of very ripe blackberries*
-2 T. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Set the carton of vanilla on the counter to soften as you prepare the crust.
2. Pour the all of the cookies and the chocolate chips into a food processor and process until finely ground.
3. Dump into a mixing bowl and work the butter through with your hands to distribute—you want it to clump, so add more butter if necessary.
4. Press the crust into a 9x12” cake pan or casserole dish (I used a round pie dish, but the ingredients make enough for a rectangular cake-sized dish), and bake for about 12 minutes, until just crisp/set.
5. Remove from oven and cool on the counter or fridge (meanwhile check the ice cream—if it’s getting too soft, put it in the freezer or fridge—you don’t want it liquid, just spreadable). When the crust is cooled to room temperature, spatula the vanilla ice cream into the crust in one smooth layer. You’ll want to scoop it out in large clumps and press it in so that it doesn’t pull up the crust.
6. Freeze until hard (most likely overnight).
7. Next day: Put blackberries and sugar into the food processor with a splash of water and puree.
8. Pour the puree evenly over the vanilla layer and freeze.
9. After that has frozen, soften the raspberry ice cream and spread over the berry layer and freeze until solid (a few hours because it’s a thinner layer).
10. To serve: slice fresh strawberries and arrange artfully over the top, or top with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

*When I got to thinking about it, so many delicious variations could be made on this recipe—different berry flavors, different fruit, different ice cream—you can really do whatever you want as long as the colors contrast enough to look good when you slice it (this one was brown, cream, purple and pink). I think that an amazing combination would be vanilla and passion fruit with a shortbread crust. Or creamsicle, or chocolate-mint, or lemon-orange-cream, or, or...

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