Wednesday, June 5, 2013

gluten free brownies with rhubarb ice cream and salted caramel sauce

I adapted the brownie part of this recipe from Rebecca Katz's new cookbook called Longevity Kitchen. She's a pioneer in health supportive food and has written extensively about nourishing the body to ward off disease. I've bought my mom two of her cookbooks that are geared towards cancer survivors, and they're fantastic. Many of her recipes are vegetable focused, but I decided to instead hone in on something a little sweeter. These gluten free brownies are made with heart healthy olive oil and nutrient dense almond flour. The inclusion of dark chocolate ups the antioxidant profile, and well, it just tastes damn good!

2/3 cup almond flour/meal
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

8 ounces dark chocolate (68 to 72% cacao content), chopped

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 eggs

1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup

1/3 cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cashews

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan.

Put the almond flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.

Put half of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stir- ring often, just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Slowly add the maple syrup and maple sugar, whisking all the while, and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla extract, then gradually add the chocolate, whisking vigorously all the while, and continue whisking until smooth and glossy.

Add the flour mixture and beat for about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining chocolate and the walnuts. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, then cover and refrigerate for at least
1 hour before cutting into 16 brownies.

You can also use a 9 by 6-inch baking pan. If you do, the baking time will be only about 25 minutes.

The ice cream portion part of this is adapted from the always decadent Martha Stewart. Her recipes (or recipes her minions have created) are almost always time-consuming and tedious, but always worth it. Here you have to cook down and then blend rhubarb, separate eggs, temper them a bit, add to a rich heavy cream mixture and then cool down before finally putting it into a ice cream maker with half the rhubarb. Let that run for twenty minutes, then add the final rhubarb mixture as a beautiful swirl at the end. Whew! I'm exhausted, but I've got one hell of a delicious ice cream fit for this most decidedly warm June afternoon.

4 cups chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 large egg yolks
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Place rhubarb, sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until rhubarb is very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to the jar of a blender and carefully blend until smooth. Transfer rhubarb puree to refrigerator until chilled.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk eggs just to combine; set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together cream, milk, honey, and salt. Place over medium-high heat and cook until mixture barely begins to simmer; reduce heat to medium.

Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup cream mixture into eggs. Repeat process with another 1/2 cup cream. Slowly stir egg mixture into saucepan with cream using a heatproof spatula. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Strain custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl set in an ice-water bath. Using a clean spatula, stir custard occasionally until cooled. Cover and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups rhubarb puree into chilled custard. Transfer custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Meanwhile, place a 1 quart container in the freezer and freeze until ice cream is ready. Transfer ice cream to chilled container and stir in remaining 1/2 cup rhubarb puree. Serve ice cream immediately with honey-scented strawberries and whipped cream or for firmer ice cream, transfer to freezer for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

Okay, you still with me?! Now, onto the final bit. The salted caramel ice cream. Also an adaptation. This one from The Perfect Scoop by famed pastry chef and ice cream connoisseur David Lebovitz.

6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, divided in half
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp sea salt

Melt butter in a heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, add sugar and stir frequently until sugar is a golden brown.

As soon as the sugar mixture starts to smell like caramel, remove it from the heat and cautiously whisk in 1/2 cup of cream. It will bubble up like crazy. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup cream, vanilla and salt. If caramel congeals a bit, rewarm it over low heat.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes before serving over ice cream. Refrigerate any leftover sauce. The sauce can be re-warmed in a microwave.

I know, I know. It's a lot of work. But you can make all the different components ahead of time, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. The ice cream (obviously) freezes well, the caramel can hang out in the fridge for two weeks if it's in a sealed container and then just warmed up a bit to get all nice and gooey. And the brownies, well, they taste best baked fresh.