The first semester of culinary school I was a giddy, excitable freshman. Again. My Hanover years were more self indulgent in an Annie Dillard, not Animal House, sort of way–lots of wood-wandering, cookie-baking, and soul-exploring. I spent time at CIA in more productive pursuits partly because – take note present and future parents – I was paying for it, but also because I was zealous about the subject matter. In those heady 21 months I was president of Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs and Co-President of Chefs Sustaining Agriculture; I volunteered for VIP guest demos and dinners; I applied for and received all sorts of scholarships; I edited the student newspaper. One of my first and favorite activities was the CIA Ice Cream Contest.
After a few weeks of school, two like-minded ladies and I formed a team. We were CIA babies and the odd culinarians competing against 6th semester baking and pastry students. We needed ideas, so Savannah, Katy and I packed a blanket, stopped by the Amish Market for triple cream cheese, a baguette , and strawberries, and let the May sun and greening Hudson Valley inspire us on the Vanderbilt lawn. The next day we submitted our recipe for a goat milk-honey ice cream with salted almond brittle. I had never tried goat milk, but it sounded pure, clean, sweet, grassy… like something that would make good ice cream. We named our creation Halcyon Daze, inspired by a Whitman, Ben, and Jerry. It won (!!) the People’s Choice award, and as a prize we each received an ice cream maker. Mr. Ronnybrook offered to put our flavor in his stores. We were giddier than ever.
Two years later, I decided to recreate our champion ice cream. I start with the brittle. It’s easy, delicious, and photogenic. If you don’t have time or equipment to make ice cream it’s a nice mini project of its own. The ice cream requires some focus and patience. After completing the custard, the greatest challenges were capturing a good drip photo with one hand on the camera and waiting patiently for the mixture to cool.
Salted Almond Brittle
½ cup almonds
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons honey
-in a small sauté pan toast almonds til light golden brown. Add butter and honey and stir until caramel. Remove from heat, stir in a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Pour onto silpat or greased wax paper. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cool and harden.
2 cups goat milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablspoon flour
10 tablespoons honey
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
-Over a double boiler, scald goats milk. Stir in sugar, flour, and salt and stir a minute until dissolved. Temper egg by pouring a thin stream of hot milk gradually into egg while whisking, about 1 cup, then whisking the mixed egg and milk back into the double boiler. Continue whisking until thick custard is formed (one that heavily coats the back of a spoon). Add honey and stir to mix.
-Cool several hours. When completely cool, add whipped cream that has been beaten to look like fluff, then add vanilla. Spin custard in an ice cream machine, adding crushed salted almond brittle. Freeze.