Brown Sugar-Molasses Ice Cream and Apricot Gallette
My grandmother was a serious, focused woman known for her attention to detail and lack of tolerance for silliness. She was a spectacular seamstress who made things like tailored suits from the best wool, complete with welted pockets, satin linings and bone buttons. While my mother and I sewed so that we'd have lots of fashionable things to wear, Grandma sewed, she once told me, in order to have fine things to wear. It is with the same sense of order and precision that she addressed cooking.
My grandmother was an excellent cook who eschewed the encroaching fast food conveniences like Minute Rice (regular rice is more nutritious, she told me, is less expensive and only takes 15 minutes longer) for seasonally fresh and home-preserved items. As the adept executive assistant to the chief executive of an insurance company, Grandma once told the story of being served turtle soup at a dinner with her boss. As an eight-year-old, turtle soup was the most exotic food I could imagine. I was dually impressed with Grandma's gustatorial bravery. And, I wondered, if a turtle could be prepared and eaten, then what else??
Grandma served me many wonderfully prepared dishes, but one thing stands out as the most simply spectacular thing I ever tasted: Apricot pie. I only had my grandma's apricot pie once, and even though it was close to four decades ago, the memory is boldly indelible. The sweet and tart and velvety fruit, still subtly warm, enrobed in a crackly, flaky crust stole my attention.
Honestly, I've never tried to recreate that pie, and never will. That delicious memory is simply too precious to be tampered with. I'm happy, though, to allow it to inspire new iterations of the theme. My Grandma would have loved this apricot gallette and its accompanying ice cream. I think you might, too.
A fresh apricot is a fine thing, but poaching, roasting or baking turns it into something ethereal and otherworldly, both in intensified flavor and in melting texture. For the gallette I used exactly the same method and pastry recipe as this, substituting 8 large apricots, halved, for the fruit. The crisp and tender butter pastry marries happily with the apricots.
The brown sugar-molasses ice cream (my new favorite flavor) came about as a bit of a fluke. I always make ice cream from a cooked custard, so when I skipped that method in a time crunch I really expected a ho-hum outcome. I am my grandmother's granddaughter, after all, and cut corners are usually noticed. I was very wrong, and will experiment further with this "cheater" ice cream base. The ice cream froze into a perfectly firm yet creamy and scoopable texture free of icy particles, which is what I had always thought I was avoiding with the more laborious custard.
I had planned just the brown sugar ice cream flavor, but as I was stirring it all together, I really wanted a darker color and deeper flavor than I was getting. The addition of molasses was also an experiment and resulted in something lovely.
Brown Sugar-Molasses Ice Cream2 cups whole milk
2 cups cream
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
Mix all ingredients together in 2 quart mixing bowl until sugar and molasses are completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Freeze according to ice cream maker's manufacturers directions. Cover tightly and place in freezer until ready to serve.