t’s our birthday and a major anniversary year for us. He’s seen the worst of me, and said I am beautiful. He’s my King and I’m his Queen. That’s love. I wanted to treat him to a nice birthday. To say thank you for the support over the years. I wish we could fly away for two weeks to a private island. For now, my love is expressed via low-budget creativity. It’s the type of gift for that one particular person as it warms the heart to communicate, “I listen, watch and think about you all the time.”
With extra money saved, two orchestra tickets to Motown the Musical were bought. Reservations to The Elm in Williamsburg were made. And, an ice cream cake made with a twist of his favorite (insert big brand name ice cream here) Vanilla Swiss Almond flavor.
What’s the twist? The vanilla is replaced with coffee ice cream. Since we first met, he would talk about this brand ice cream should come out with Coffee Swiss Almond Ice Cream. I finally made it for him from scratch.
Before any birthday candles were blown away, we had dinner at The Elm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We started our meal with an Avocado soup made with curry scented cashews and shrimp. The ingredients were so fresh, it was if the shrimp were caught an hour before being served, and a ripe avocado was picked that morning. The Foie Gras with the Spiced Strawberry Gelée, Pickled Strawberry and Ginger was buttery on toast. The “Flavors of Bouillabaisse” was layers of Amadai (a type of tile fish), mussels, orange confit and fennel blossom with a saffron-scented base. The boyfriend ordered the Slow Roasted Duck served with Pickled Plum. The waiter asked if we wanted to try dessert. I said, “No thank you.” The Boyfriend told the waiter about his birthday cake at home. That didn’t stop the restaurant from sending out a sweet plate wishing him the best.
We arrived home, lighted a few candles. He made a wish and cut a chunky slice. The next day he told his family about his cake. Shared it with a neighbor. It was gone in two days. The celebration continued into the following week to watch the Broadway hit, Motown the Musical.
Happy Sweet Birthday to us.
- One recipe for Brownie crust (see below)
- One recipe for Coffee Almond Ice Cream (see below)
- One recipe for Chocolate Ganache (see below)
- Line an 8x8x2 in. baking pan with plastic.
- Gently place the cool brownie in the baking pan for the crust.
- After mixing in the chocolate almonds into the soften and churned coffee ice cream, pour and scrape the sides of the ice cream maker over the brownie crust. Using a spatula, smooth the top for an even surface.
- Tightly cover baking pan with a lid or a plastic wrap. Place in the freezer to chill firm.
- After about 4 hours or when the ice cream is almost solid, make the chocolate ganache.
- After a few minutes of the chocolate ganache being in the refrigerator, whisk the chocolate ganache again. Using a spatula, evenly spread the ganache over the ice cream.
- Tightly cover baking pan with a lid or a plastic wrap and return the pan to the freezer. Chill until ice cream is solid (about 5 hours).
- To Serve: Either let ice cream cake rest for a about 15 minutes or place pan in a bowl of warm water. Place a flat large plate over the ice cream cake. Gently flip cake onto the plate. Then place the serving platter over the upside down cake (brownie will be on top). Gently flip the ice cream plate onto the serving platter. Insert candles. Sing well wishes very loud. Blow out candles. Use a sharp knife to cut individual servings.
- About 2 cups organic whole milk
- 1 cup coarsely ground strongly roasted coffee beans
- 1/2-cup sugar
- 1 tiny pinch of sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups organic heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate covered almonds
- Warm 1-cup of milk in a small saucepan over medium heat--do not boil the milk. Turn heat off.
- Whisk in coffee beans, cover the pot and let milk steep for at least three hours in the refrigerator (I let the coffee steep over a stove until it returns to room temperature, then place it in the refrigerator for the rest of the time).
- Over a fine mesh strainer, strain milk from the coffee beans, pressing into the solids to extract more milk. Discard or recycle coffee beans into the soil of plants needing more acid. This should make about a quarter-cup of very concentrated coffee. Add about three-quarters of milk to make one-cup of coffee milk.
- Reheat coffee milk and over medium heat--do not boil!
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt and sugar.
- Slowly add 1/8-cup of warm coffee milk to the egg mixture and continue to whisk. Repeat this step until all of the coffee milk is used.
- Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan and heat slowly over medium-low heat until thickened. Constantly stir mixture until it’s similar to a liquid pudding. Again... Do not let the mixture boil!
- Strain mixture over a fine mesh strainer.
- Place mixture in a sealed container and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
- Whisk in cream and vanilla to finalize the coffee ice cream custard.
- Add custard to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. During the last few minutes, mix in the chocolate covered almonds.
- When the custard is similar to the texture of a slightly firm soft-serve ice cream, follow the directions above for completing the ice cream cake.
- 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa)
- 8 tbsp./1 stick unsalted butter; plus more for greasing 8x8x2 in. baking pan.
- 3/4-cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2-tsp. baking powder
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8x8x2 in. baking pan with foil. Using a little butter, grease the foil.
- Over low heat, melt chocolate and 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan and occasionally stir. When the chocolate is almost melted, remove the saucepan from the stove. Using a whisk, continue to stir until the chocolate is completely smooth.
- Whisk in the sugar. Beat in the eggs--one at a time.
- Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour baking powder, sea salt and vanilla.
- Pour the brownie batter into the greased baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes; or until the the batter is barely set in the middle. Let completely cool on a rack.
- Placing a large plate over the brownie's pan, gently flip the brownie onto the plate.
- Wash the brownie pan to prep for use in making the Coffee Almond Ice Cream and Brownie Cake with Chocolate Ganache.
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.
- About 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate; use either chips or chopped into equal and small size pieces
- 1-1/2 cups organic cream; more as needed
- Place cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Watch it carefully to prevent it from boiling over.
- When tiny bubbles appear around the edges, remove cream from the stove. Whisk in the chocolate pieces until smooth. If the chocolate is too thick, add more cream.
- Slightly cool for few minutes in the refrigerator until ready to use.
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