Saturday evening’s dinner ended with this dessert, a bit of kitchen improv inspired by Thomas Keller’s famous “Coffee and Doughnuts” from the French Laundry. A Facebook friend had posted a comment about making glazed donut ice cream – an idea that’s obvious once you see it written down – which prompted a trip to the corner Dunkie’s (it’s half a block from the police station) for a half dozen of their finest glazed treats. (I assume my LA-based friend used something more local like Winchell’s.)
I grabbed some milk and cream on the return trip and was ready to go. I heated a cup each of the milk and cream, dissolved a half cup of sugar (reduced from the usual three quarters cup, accounting for the glaze that would go into solution), and added four whole donuts to steep.
After about half an hour and a few pokes with a spatula, the donuts turned into sludge, which I strained out of the dairy base. Did I sample the remaining sludge? You know I did. Mmm… donut sludge… .
I reheated the mixture, tempered six egg yolks, returned everything to the pot and cooked the custard.
It was standard ice cream procedure from that point on: add the custard to another cup of cream chilling in an ice bath, stir until cooled, refrigerate overnight, then churn in an ice cream machine.
I had ice cream ready a few days in advance, but how would I serve it? I knew I should accompany it with something coffee-flavored, but it took another day to realize that a coffee gelée would provide an interesting contrast.
I made the gelée with a cup of brewed coffee, a cup of water with two tablespoons of sugar dissolved in it, a half teaspoon of vanilla extract, and three sheets of gelatin bloomed in ice water.
After stirring everything together, I ladled about half a cup of the gel into bowls and let them sit in the fridge to set.
I needed one more component, something with a bit of crunch. I had some chocolate tart dough left from the birthday dinner, so I planned to roll it out, bake the sheet, and cut it into irregular shapes to use as a garnish. I abandoned that idea when our guest arrived with two boxes of macarons:
Chocolate on the left, Starbucks caramel macchiato on the right (certified as accurate by a Starbucks barista) – I had a new garnish for the plate. To assemble this do-ahed dessert. I placed a scoop of ice cream on the gelée, topped it with some chocolate-covered roasted cacao nibs, leaned a macaron against the ice cream, and added a dusting of dry caramel (the gift that keeps on giving).
Lots of different textures; donut flavor balanced against coffee, chocolate, and caramel; bitter cacao and gelée against sweet ice cream – this dessert had it all going on. It’s a keeper, but, sadly, I’ll have to revert to the chocolate crisps because we inhaled all of the macarons.
One thought kept running through my head as I ate: