Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on August 27th, 2010
by Clarabella

Ice Cream Take 2 & Browned Butter Beauty

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I have to confess that I prepared for this months challenge with a certain amount of trepidation due to the ice cream element. My attempt at ice cream last month was not particularly successful (I try to blame the lack of ice-cream maker in an effort to minimise my incompetence) so I was not overly confident that this month and take 2 would be any different. But I do hate being beaten by such a simple thing as a little frozen custardy cream so I took a deep breath and prepared to churn. I decided to go with vanilla. I do love a good vanilla ice cream and I thought it would be a good foundation to try to get right, and if I managed that I could then take on the task of diversifying my flavour portfolio.

There is something incredibly sexy about the combination of milk, sugar and vanilla. The velvety rich, sweetness adorned with an infinite number of tiny beads of pure vanilla indulgence. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Anyway, back to the topic. The custard for the ice cream went perfectly and melded with the cream in its ice bath very happily and it tasted, at this stage, quite delicious. The only change I would have made is to dial back on the sugar a tiny bit to let the cream and vanilla come through a little more. Then into the freezer once cooled and churned with my trusty old hand mixer every half hour for about 3 hours. The result, I have to say, was beautiful. Smooth, velvety, melt in the mouth creamy, (I get carried away on the topic of ice cream so I’ll stop myself here). And I have to thank the wisdom of Mr Lebovitz for my final triumph over the ice cream gods. Thank you sir.

Next came the browning of the butter for the browned butter pound cake. I have heard of browned butter as a concept but I have never had the guts or even a good enough reason to take the plunge into that hot pan. But armed with a good reason and another skill to learn, into the pan the butter went. As I have never browned butter before I was somewhat paranoid about burning it, and I took it off the heat countless times trying to decide whether it smelled nutty enough or whether the milk solids looked dark chocolate brown. “Is that chocolate brown, or golden brown? Is chocolate brown darker than golden brown? What if mine go fron golden to burned and I miss the chocolate stage completely?” It was a slightly stressful 10 minutes, but I think I successfully estimated a good end point for my butter and as it went into its container to be chilled it looked browned and smelled rich and nutty – good enough for me!
The rest of the cake was a piece of cake to make (sorry, I couldn’t resist that bit if cheese!) and went into the oven looking rather speckled and tasty and smelled amazing when it came out again. I did have a little bit of a challenge cutting it in half but with my 2 handy dowel rods guiding my hand it was not the catastrophe that it could have been if left to my rather unreliable eye. The ice cream layer and cake came together like they were meant to be and as I cut them into adorable little cubes I though all was well with the world and nothing could possibly go wrong. The kiss of death. I then ran into my inevitable little hiccup in the unlikely guise of a simple chocolate glaze. Something I have done many times before without incident, something that is an oh so simple concept, but yet still managed to tip me off my high horse of premature jubilation into the bog of chocolate puddingey sludge that no petit four would dip into or be bathed in.
They are not beautiful but they do taste great, and how boring would it be if everything turned out perfectly. Perfect representation of my life really – hahaha. Thank you for the challenge Elissa. It was a good giggle, and a chocolatey, finger-licking mess. But in baking, whats the fun in it if you cant lick your fingers afterwards while surveying your own perfect version of imperfection.


Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz:

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours
1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)
5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).


7 Responses to “Ice Cream Take 2 & Browned Butter Beauty”
  1. Renata says

    Who said they are not beautiful? They are gorgeous and yummy!! While reading your description of browning the butter, I could see EXACTLY myself doing the same! That was so funny, you put it in words so perfectly! I'm still not sure I had the right brown stage on mine..

  2. Clarabella says

    Haha, thanks Renata, we cannot be defeated by unequally browned butter, and slodgy chocolate glaze! 🙂

  3. shelley c. says

    They don't look too bad to me! 🙂 I think a few of us had some trouble with the glaze, but the dessert was so tasty that it wound up being totally fine in the end. You really did a great job with the cake, the ice cream, and yes, even with the glaze. Great work on the challenge.

  4. Claire says

    Ha…I think licking my fingers is one of the best parts! Great job!

  5. chef_d says

    They look delicious! Isn't the brown butter cake worth this challenge? Good job!

  6. Clarabella says

    Thank you 🙂 Oh yes, browned butter is certainly a revelation! Can't wait to see what the next challenge will be! 🙂

  7. Christina says

    Beautiful job!