This is an end-of-summer hurrah.
Here’s the sad part: I don’t really feel like writing this post right now.
And I didn’t feel like writing it yesterday
or the day before.
Today was Labor Day; I should be gushing about how wonderful summer was and how much I’m looking forward to the fall (my favorite season, duh. Fall baby.)
but but
I’m not ready.  I’m so completely and utterly not ready for fall to come sweeping through on a breeze as sharp and cold as the edge of a knife.
Two weeks ago, I was beyond ready.  I could barely wait.
I was on the edge of my seat, excited for cool weather and college (?!) and even the infinite and damned pumpkin recipes.
So, as I write this post, this technically last summer post, why am I so apprehensive and even anxious?
Lord only knows.  
Something inside me has switched and is now tugging me backwards through time, rewinding through the heat and the rain and the thick humidity, rather than pulling me forwards into the chill.
As the time of my departure looms large, I find myself clinging to my friends who live here in town, clinging to my town itself.
Who knew it would be so hard to say goodbye to your safe haven, your happy place, your home?
(Other than everyone…)
See, and here is exactly why I didn’t want to write this post.
Now, I am in tears.
And I don’t want to tell you about this awesome ice cream.
I just want to sit and cry and listen to my sad music playlist and whine and reminisce.
I want a hot cup of tea and a pair of comforting arms to snuggle into.
I. Am. Not. Ready.
Hell, I don’t even want to be ready.
But, I have a job to do here on this sweet-filled blog. So:
This ice cream is awesome.  
This is the second time I’ve made it, which is very rare.
It’s a caramel corn ice cream, loaded with goodies.
A creamy custard base is steeped with sweet corn cobs and kernels, fortified with a million egg yolks, and churned until thick and soft.
It’s layered with a soft, smooth caramel laced with whiskey, and crumbled corn cookies, which are summer and sun in a single buttery bite, and which come from the great Christina Tosi.
If you wanna get real naughty, you take a big scoop of this ice cream and sandwich it between two leftover corn cookies.
And then you eat it and think about summer.
Because, I’m telling you, there’s no way you can eat this ice cream
and not think
about summer.
Caramel Corn Ice Cream
for the corn custard:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 ears of corn, shucked and kernels taken off, cobs reserved
9 egg yolks
7 tablespoons sugar
Place heavy cream and milk in a deep pot with the kernels and cobs of the corn.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  
Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let cool for at least 45 minutes.
Strain the milk mixture, discard the steeped corn. (Scrape the sides of the cobs to make sure you get all the milk out.)
Whisking vigorously, or blending with an immersion blender, add in the egg yolks and sugar.
Return to the pot and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and blend, in a regular blender canister or with an immersion blender.
Allow to cool completely (overnight in a fridge is ideal).
for the whiskey caramel:
3/4 cup sugar
big pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon whiskey
Place the sugar, salt, and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed and deep pan.
Heat over medium heat until sugar caramelizes and turns deep amber, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the heavy cream and whiskey together.
Once the caramel reaches a suitable color, remove from heat and immediately pour in cream/whiskey mixture, whisking constantly.
Mixture will steam, foam, and erupt; be careful and wear an oven mitt.
If the mixture seizes, simply return it to a low heat and continue to whisk until the caramel dissolves and becomes smooth and grit-free.
Allow to cool completely.
to assemble:
1 batch corn custard, recipe above
1 batch whiskey caramel, recipe above, warmed for 20 seconds in a microwave or until pourable but not very hot

corn cookies, chopped roughly
Churn custard according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
Once churned, layer 1/3 of the ice cream into a loaf pan or other freezer-safe container.
Sprinkle 1/2 of the chopped corn cookies onto the ice cream, then drizzle the caramel over.
Layer in the same manner once more.
Finally, top everything off with the final third of the ice cream, then place in a freezer to set for at least 2 hours before using.
You may need to let the ice cream thaw slightly before scooping to serve.

Brave New World

I find myself standing on a precipice, peering down, cookie in hand.
I find myself staring at a page the color of milk, devoid of text.
I find myself adrift on the oceanic interwebs, floating, but not peacefully. 

I have lots to write about.  My thoughts just won’t come out as crisply and concisely as they are in my head.

I’ll be honest.  I’m apprehensive.  Scared, even.
I don’t know what will become of my blog now that I’ve introduced these WISE posts.

How much more thought and time will have to go into a post?  (As of now, one post, comprised of just the writing, photoshopping, and formatting, let alone the preparation of the featured food, takes me roughly 1 1/2 hours.)  
I have tried, and will continue to try, to put meaningful thought and time into a couple of my blog posts.
I don’t want to say it’s true, but it is: now that my blog is becoming, on a once weekly basis, a school-tool, I am more nervous about writing.
Do I sound silly and shallow? (Always.)
Am I proper enough?
Can I use y’all?  And lol?  
What will become of my “diva” and “stupid” labels? 
Are they off limits?

I pray that you, my lovely, lovely, readers (or lookers… I know many come for the food porn photos only, [Editor’s note re: food porn: perhaps too callous?] and that is totally one hundred percent fine by me), will stick with me as I branch out into a new and distinctive field: creating blog posts that I know my teacher will see.

I shall have to test the waters; the waters I shall test.

In the meantime, let me talk about what I know best: dessert.
The inspiration for this dessert came from the idea of “Mexican hot chocolate,” which involves cocoa, cayenne, and cinnamon.  From there, my mind jumped instantly to cajeta, the traditional goat milk-version of dulce de leche, which is often spiced with a pinch of cinnamon.  
By then, I was spinning off on a Latin American tangent: I wanted to include corn (I had seen the wonderful corn cookies from Milk Bar recently), avocados, limes, bananas, etc.
With a firm flavor base in my head, I edited components out.
I knew I wanted to do a sweet “guacamole,” in the form of a lime-avocado purée.
I knew I wanted to use corn cookies.
I knew I wanted an ice cream.
I knew I wanted fluffy sponge cake and bittersweet ganache.
Here’s the result.

Brave New World:
1. Avocado lime purée
2. Bittersweet chocolate cayenne ganache
3. Brûléed banana brunoise
4. Cinnamon dulce de leche ice cream
5. Instant chocolate sponge cake
6. Crushed corn cookies
Instant Sponge Cake
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons milk
2 paper cups (no plastic or wax)
Whip the egg white with 2 tablespoons of the sugar.  Mix all of the other ingredients together, then fold the egg white into the batter.  Poke slits in the bottom of your cups, and pour the batter in.  Place on a plate and microwave for 2 minutes on high (This varies because microwaves are so variable.  To check for doneness, touch the top of the cake with your finger.  It should not be sticky and should not collapse; it should be fully cooked.).
For use in the dessert, rip into small, organically shaped pieces.
Avocado-Lime Purée
1/2 a hass avocado
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Juice of 1 whole lime
Big pinch salt
Mash the avocado into a rough mush like guacamole.  Stir in the sugar, lime juice, and salt.  Purée the entire mixture, either with an immersion blender or food processor, until very smooth.  Be sure to add all of the juice of the lime; the acid is what keeps the avocado a beautiful green color.
Chocolate cayenne ganache
1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 tablespoons cream
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Gently heat all ingredients together, either in a saucepan over low heat or in 20 second bursts in the microwave, until approximately 2/3 of the chocolate is melted.  Remove from heat, let sit for 2 minutes, then stir together until silky and shiny. 
For use in the dessert: heat up until smooth and free-flowing by nuking it for no more than 15 seconds.
Brûléed banana brunoise
1 banana, peeled.
Cut the banana in half right in the middle (across the skinny part of the banana, not the long way).  Trim off the sides of the banana so that they are plumb and cut 1/8 inch wide planks.  Take the planks and trim off the ends so that the edges are straight, and cut 1/8 inch wide matchsticks.  Take the matchsticks and cut them into 1/8 inch squares.  You will now have 1/8 inch cubes.  Place them on a plate, sprinkle liberally with sugar, and brûlée them with your torch, until the edges are dark and the sugar is caramelized.
Corn Cookies
straight from the Milk Bar cookbook
225 g butter (8 ounces)
300 g sugar
1 egg
265 g flour
73 g freeze-dried corn, ground into a powder in a food processor or blender
3 g baking powder (3/4 teaspoon)
1.5 g baking soda (1/4 teaspoon)
6 g kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)
Cream your butter and sugar together for 2 full minutes on medium speed.  Scrape the sides, add the egg, and beat on medium high speed for 7 full minutes (set a timer).  Scrape the sides of the bowl, add in all of the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined, and no longer- about 45 seconds.  Portion out cookies with an ice cream scoop and flatten with your palm or a glass.  Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.  When you are ready to bake them off, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 18 minutes.
To use in the dessert, once the cookies are cool, smash one or two of them into powder, either in a bag with a rolling pin or a food processor.  Eat the others. Yum.
Cinnamon-Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
7 ounces (1/2 can) sweetened condensed milk plus 2 big pinches salt OR 7 ounces store bought dulce de leche (or cajeta!)
220 g milk
1 teaspoon gelatin+ 2 tablespoons cold water
160 g heavy cream
35 g corn syrup or 100 g glucose
65 g sugar
40 g milk powder
1 g kosher salt
Let cool completely.  
Bloom your gelatin in the cold water by sprinkling it lightly over the surface and allowing it to sit for 3-5 minutes.  
Blend the dulce de leche with the milk, over low heat, until completely homogenized (the heat helps the dulce de leche dissolve).  
Blend in the bloomed gelatin (use a hand blender).  
Remove from heat and blend in the rest of the ingredients until super smooth and homogeneous.  
Allow to cool completely; chill for up to 1 week.  
Once you are ready to make ice cream, spin the mixture in an ice cream maker, and put in an airtight container for up to a week.  
To quenelle, use boiling hot water to heat up your spoon and allow the ice cream to temper for about 2 minutes before scooping.
To assemble:
1. Place a dollop of avo-lime purée on the bottom of a plate, and, using the back of a spoon, swoop in an arc to create a schmear.  
2. Splatter chocolate ganache on the plate.
3. Place your best cubes of banana onto the plate; pile them up into an organic pyramid.
4. Place a quenelle of tempered ice cream in the center of the plate.
5. Place 3 pieces of sponge cake around the quenelle; do not make them symmetric.
6. Sprinkle corn cookies halfway onto the quenelle and around the plate.
Serve immediately.