[Ice] cream, you scream....

I thought I was done with frozen treats for the summer, but yesterday I found myself taking out the ice cream maker that had already been put away for the season to churn up one more recipe. August is always a strange time.  With summer-like temperatures but the holidays quickly approaching (I've already seen Halloween decorations!!), it's a strange in-between the seasons time.  But, if you find yourself like me, still craving ice cream, I have a couple late-summer recipes to share with you!

French macarons ice cream sandwiches
French Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches.
French Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

I created this whimsical French Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches for West Elm last month.  They use my go-to method for making macarons (but bigger!) and a simple no-churn ice cream.  The trick to making them nice and even?  Freeze the ice cream in a sheet pan, then cut out disks of ice cream with a round cookie cutter that is just slightly smaller than the cookies.  Plus, spinels and chocolate chips, of course =)

Also on West Elm, I made the Grown-Up Ice Cream Sundaes!  Who says kids should get all the fun?  Because let's face it, adults like ice cream too - especially when it is homemade Stout Stracciatella and fancied up with nut brittle and boozy fudge sauce!!  Here is a bit more of what I have to say about this drool-worthy combo, just in case you weren't already convinced you should drop everything to make this right now:

Creamy, dreamy and flecked with bittersweet chocolate pieces, the homemade Stout Stracciatella Ice Cream is delightfully smooth and flavorful. Dark stout beer adds a smooth, malted flavor that is pleasantly balanced with real vanilla bean seeds and heavy cream. Instead of store-bought fudge, swap the jarred stuff for some boozy Mocha Rum Sauce and replace chopped nuts with homemade hazelnut brittle! The Stout Stracciatella is the perfect base for any grown-up sundae, but the more options for toppings the better. Try adding anything from fudgy brownie bites and flakey sea salt to classics like sprinkles and sweetened whipped cream!
Stout Stracciatelly Ice Cream Sundae
Stout Stracciatella Ice Cream

Want to make one of the recipes (or one of your own), but not sure about the best to photograph something potential messy and definitely melty?  I've got you covered there, too.  You can find my best tips and tricks for photographing REAL ice cream and frozen desserts over on Food Bloggers of Canada!

How to Photograph Ice Cream and Popsicles
How to Photograph Ice Cream and Popsicles
How to Photograph Ice Cream and Popsicles

Cinnamon Peach Pie with Braid Crust

Summer peaches with a touch of cinnamon.  The all-butter crust is perfectly  flakey and playful with a braided top.  The quintessential peach pie while stone fruit is at its peak!

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

I start my cookbook by saying that I have zero recollection of baking with my grandmother as a child, like most of my peers do.  This isn’t because I have a poor memory, it is because I never had any desire to be in the kitchen until I was an adult. I come from a family of outstanding cooks, but it wasn’t until I lived on my own that I began tinkering around with different dishes and flavor pairings.  Instead of my grandma or my mom, it was the early days of Food Network that got me interested in food and cooking.

An unconventional schedule packed with college classes and late-night dance team practices introduced me to the world of day-time television.  It was late afternoons when I was able to find some downtime, and it was Food Network that helped me unwind in between activities.  I’d watch the likes of Giada and Rachel Ray while I brushed up on homework and would find myself engulfed in whatever they were cooking up that day.  I literally found myself thinking, “I think I can do that!”  I was probably 20 years old when I bought myself a little paring knife, a couple sauce pans, and got to work.  My first cake pan was actually a 5-inch, nearly useless spring-form pan, since I had no idea what I was shopping for…

Fast forward over a decade later, and my love for cooking and food has only grown stronger and stronger.  Clearly.  I ended up making it my career!  Currently, I run this blog, am a cookbook author, and freelance by developing recipes and photographing articles for various brands and publications.  That being said, when I opened my inbox to find an inquiry from Food Network, it is probably no surprise that I nearly fell off my desk chair from excitement!

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

I started writing for Food Network Canada earlier this Spring.  At first, I contributed some tips and tricks for making buttercream cakes for a slideshow that they were putting together.  Flash-forward a few months, and I have four articles up on www.foodnetwork.ca and a few more in the cue.  Literally a dream come true!

My latest article that went up early this week was all about pie.  If you remember me talking about pie earlier this year, then you might recall that pie hasn’t always my thing.  Confession: I am officially obsessed!  I originally gravitated towards cake decorating as a creative outlet.  But guess what guys?  Not only is pie-making somewhat therapeutic (when the dough is co-operating), it has given me even a new way to express my artistic side.  Braids, lattice, and a combination of the two - the options for top crusts are endless!  Buttercream may always be my favorite medium to work with, but my new found love for pastry crust (not to mention all of the delicious fillings!!) seems to be taking on a life of it’s own.  Good thing too, because when Food Network asked me to put together a step-by-step article for three different ways to decorate a pie, I was quick to oblige. 

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

This Cinnamon Peach Pie uses my favorite braided top with a classic fluted edge.  To be honest, this is the first peach pie I have ever made, but I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Peaches are in their prime right now, and while you don’t want to use the ripest fruit you can find (save those just for eating fresh!), the ones I picked up from my local market were bursting with flavor.  Paired with a touch of cinnamon spice to compliment the natural sweetness of the fruit, this just might be the best peach pie I ever tasted. Everything about it, from preparing the fruit to making the pastry by hand next to the open window in my kitchen, embodies summer.  

Stay tuned for even more pies as we head into fall and be sure to check out all the techniques over on Food Network.

Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.
Cinnamon Peach Pie with an all-butter braid pie crust.

Cinnamon Peach Pie

All-Butter Crust
adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
1 egg
splash milk
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Place the ice in the water and set aside.

2.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers.  Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms.  Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.

3.  Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar.  Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl.  The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky.  Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed.  Do not over-mix.

4.  Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).

5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll.  Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter. 

6.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin.  Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang.  Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.

7.  For the braided top, repeat step 5.  Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut 21 strips, about a 1/2-inch wide.  Braid in groups of three and place on a baking sheet or cutting board and place in the refrigerator, along with any leftover dough.

8.  Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow).

9.  Fill the chilled pie crust with the peaches by layering them in tightly, but leaving the juices behind.  Remove the braids from the refrigerator and place on top of the filling. Allow for some excess dough on the end of each strip, then trim.

10.  Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger.

12.  Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

13.  Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

14.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

15.  Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.

Cinnamon Peach Filling
2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Pit and slice the peaches into 1/3 to 1/2 inch wedges.  Toss in the lemon juice and set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.

3.  Combine the peaches with the dry ingredients until evenly coated, taking care not to smash the fruit.

Frozen Raspberry Cashew Cake

Vibrant raspberry sauce tops this decadent frozen cashewmilk cake studded with fresh berries atop a nutty no-bake crust. A creamy vegan, gluten-free frozen treat for summer!

Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, diary, and egg free.

At the height of summer, when you just can’t bare to turn on the oven, it is essential to be prepared with an arsenal of frozen, no-bake desserts.  Topping my growing list of refreshing treats to combat the heat is this Frozen Raspberry Cashew Cake! 

Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.

As I’ve mentioned before, when ever I stumble upon a gluten-free or vegan recipe that I can’t help but share, it is not because I abide by any particular diet, but that it just happens to taste amazing that way.  Most of the recipes on this website are riddled with butter and cream, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is how I eat in my own day to day.  Sure, I am constantly trying out new recipes for cake/pie/etc and sneak countless sample slices, but I try to find balance with the other meals and snacks I provide for my family. 

For this recipe, I took a page from some of my favorite alternative health blogs to create this no-bake dessert.  Similar to a raw, frozen cheesecake, this dessert layers a walnut-date crust, creamy cashew frozen dessert studded with fresh raspberries, and a vibrant raspberry puree.  Dairy-free decadence for breezy, summer living!

A non-dairy dessert that is actually creamy?  You bet! From a girl that loves butter as much as I do, trust me when I say that this cashewmilk based frozen dessert is every bit dreamy and delightful.  With a touch of fair-trade vanilla and pinch of sea salt (I added a pinch to crust as well – so good!), you might be tempted to eat it all straight from the container.  But don’t!  Together, this recipe is beyond easy to pull together and almost everything is better in layer cake form – aim I right?

Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, diary, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.
Frozen raspberry cashewmilk cake - gluten, dairy, and egg free.

Frozen Raspberry Cashew Cheesecake
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
pinch sea salt
2 containers So Delicious Creamy Cashew Cashewmilk Frozen Dessert (500 ml each)
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raw honey, maple syrup, or sweetener of choice

Remove the frozen dessert from the refrigerator to soften.  Set aside.

Place the walnuts, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until finely chopped and the mixture begins to stick together.  Pack the mixture into the bottom of a 6-inch springform pan. 

Once the frozen dessert has softened a touch (you may microwave in increments of 10-15 seconds, if necessary), spread the contents of one container on top of the crust.  Place about ½ cup of fresh raspberries into the frozen dessert then top with the second container.  Use a piece of plastic wrap to press the top until smooth.  Cover and freeze.

Meanwhile, make the raspberry layers.  Puree 1 cup raspberries and sweetener of choice.  Remove the plastic wrap and spread the raspberry layer on top of the cashew layer.  Recover and freeze until solid

Before serving, removed the cake from the freezer.  Carefully run the edges of the pan under warm water then release the cake from the springform pan.  Top with the remaining raspberries and serve!

To help slice the cake, run the blade of a knife under hot water before cutting. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of So Delicious. The opinions and text are all mine.

Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Marble Macarons with Earl Grey Buttercream and Pink Lemonade Filling

Swirly royal icing transforms these fancy-pants French macarons into fun, whimsical treats.  The classic pastries are filled with Earl Grey buttercream, lemon cream, and raspberry jam.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

I’ve always been fairly artistic, so when I signed up for a watercolor class one summer at UC Davis, I thought it would be a breeze.  Up until then, I had trained in performing arts my entire life and had dabbled in acrylic painting in my free time.   Even children play with watercolors, so how hard could it be?  I was tragically mistaken.  Watercolor painting is extremely difficult, or at least when trying to manipulate water and paint into sometime remotely recognizable.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

I purchased all of the necessary supplies on the course list before class started and picked my seat at one of the tilted drawing tables with confidence.  As I looked around, I think my brushes were the only ones in the classroom that were unused, paints unopened, and palette completely clean of remnants of past projects.  Throw in some water, and I knew I was doomed. 

I was quickly humbled by colleagues’ abilities and grace working with this impossible medium.  I chose to paint things like abstract flowers while others were creating landscapes, one simple stroke at a time.  I felt like they were all working with the water, while I was trying to control it.  Our final project was a pond of koi fish.  I think mine is stashed away, still half-complete, somewhere in my parents’ storage unit… I’m not one to give up quickly, and I still play around with my paints from time to time, focusing on gradients, lettering, and whimsical little illustrations, but mainly I work with sugar and butter to fulfill my intrinsic artistic needs.

Growing up a dancer, I’ve always had a creative outlet.  I studied all disciplines of dance and musical theater (plus a few years of percussion) all the way through college.  As the style of dance transitioned from classical ballet to my college jazz team to contemporary/modern, my adult body could no longer keep up.  I started getting migraines in my mid-twenties and the movement associated with contemporary dance triggered my motion sickness.  Eventually I had to cut back and find a new way to express myself. 

Enter cake and pastry.  Just as I was leaving the world of dance that had consumed my previous 20+ years of life, I found my passion for baking.  Where I could no longer move and flex my body the way I wanted it to, I started to manipulate sugar.  I ended up throwing all of my energy into my new cake business, and the rest is history!  

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

For this recipe, I wanted to go bold and bright – something undeniably FUN for summer.  I fell in love with the whimsical designs of Meghan Rohsko of Nutmeg and Honeybee earlier this year and her ability to create edible art from sugar cookies and macarons.  Both finicky and fanciful, classic French macarons are typically perceived as these pristine little jewels, sitting unnecessarily high on their perfect pedestals.  Meghan’s use of vibrant colors and textures goes well beyond tradition and make macarons a bit more approachable and fun. 

Don’t get me wrong, baking perfect macarons can definitely be tricky - they have an elitist aura about them for a reason.  I’ve gone on about my quest to master these little pastries before, and I know I am not the only one out there to have a love/hate relationship for these little buggers.  In an effort to manipulate sugar in yet a new way, I wanted to decorate the actual shells of the macarons.  Made of mainly egg whites and almond flour, these crispy shells are temperamental and delicate.  A few drips of water, and they are ruined.  I’ve tried painting on them with petal dust mixed with alcohol, but I wanted to test out royal icing this time around.  Inspired by some of Meghan’s sugar cookies and macarons, I created these marble macarons! 

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

Using summer palettes of pink and yellow for my Pink Lemonade macarons and teal and sky blue for my Earl Grey macarons, a few drops of gel food coloring turned these plain shells into swirly, whimsical treats.  A quick bath in the colourful icing and it’s instant edible art!  Much easier than painting a watercolor fish, I promise, and much more fun, too.

Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.
Marble macarons with earl grey buttercream and pink lemonade filling.

For the Shells
200 grams ground almond flour
200 grams powdered sugar
200 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
140 grams egg whites (from about 4 large eggs)
gel food coloring of choice

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicon mats and set aside.  Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixtures registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and let rest for about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs whites with an electric mixer until medium-soft peaks.  If using a stand mixer, begin whisking on high when the sugar mixture hits about 210 degrees. 

Once the sugar mixture is hot and the eggs are whipped, keep the mixer running on high speed and carefully pour in the sugar.  Pour in the sugar slowly and try to keep it from hitting the whisk to prevent hot sugar splatters.  Continue to mix on high until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).  During the last minute or so, add in the gel food coloring, if desired.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Using a large, rubber spatula, begin folding in the meringue mixture into the almond flour mixture in three batches.  Use large, deliberate folds – turning the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl up to the top.  Continue to fold and smooth out the batter until it falls like thick lava off of the spatula – not too stiff and not too runny.  Rotate the bowl as you fold and smear the mixture against the sides of the bowl with spatula to smooth.  Do not over-mix.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip with the macaron batter.  Pipe out uniform rounds of the batter, about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, on the prepared baking sheets.  When done, rap the bottoms of the baking sheets a few times against a safe work surface to knock out any air bubbles. 

Allow the piped macarons to rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops feel dry to the touch and are not too sticky.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  When done, the tops of the macarons should "jiggle" slightly but still feel attached to the base.  Cool the macarons on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before  carefully pealing them off the parchment paper or baking mat.

For the Lemon Cream Filling 
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined.  Slowly add in the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.  Beat on medium until fluffy – about 30 seconds or so.

Royal Icing
1 egg white
1 ½ cups confections sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg white on medium until frothy.  Gradually add in the sugar and turn the mixer up to medium-high.  Continue to mix until soft, glossy peaks.  Add in the lemon and mix until combined.  Stir in water, a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, as needed.  The royal icing should be fairly runny, similar to Elmer’s glue.

royal icing
gel food coloring
raspberry jam
Earl Grey buttercream (half of this recipe)

Match all of the macarons by size and set on a baking sheet.  Only the tops will be decorated, while only the bottoms will be filled.  Set aside.

Divide the royal icing into two bowls.  Using a toothpick, dot the top of the royal icing with gel food coloring – two to three colors in each bowl.  Gently swirl to combine.  Holding the edges with your fingertips, dip the tops of the macaron shells into the royal icing.  Swirl, lift, and shake, allowing the excess icing to drip off.  Place the shell, icing side up, on a baking sheet and gently tap to get rid of any air bubbles.  Clean up the sides as needed with a clean fingertip or paintbrush and allow to dry – at least 4 hours.

Pipe the filling on the bottom shells.  To create the Pink Lemonade macarons, pipe a ring of lemon cream around the edges, then fill with about ¼ - ½ teaspoon raspberry jam.  Pipe on the Earl Grey buttercream with a medium star or round tip.  Do not overfill or pipe directly to the edges.  Place the tops on the filling and gently press together until the filling flattens and reaches the edges.

It is common practice to let the macarons “mature” for 24 hours – allowing the flavors and textures to develop.  If you are like me, then enjoy at your leisure (like immediately after, hehe).

This design was heavenly inspired by Meghan of Nutmeg and Honeybee.  Be sure to give her a shout out and follow her YouTube Channel!