Frozen Vanilla Bean Custard with Hot Strawberry Sauce

It’s another take on this month’s #baketogether. The recipe of the month is vanilla pot de creme and the goal is to take it and make it your own. I’ve already posted one version, using a straight forward baked custard.

This time I skipped the part where it is supposed to be baked in the oven and chilled it in the fridge instead. Then I hauled out the ice cream maker and made frozen vanilla custard.

Then I took the strawberry sauce and heated it up on the stove. If you ever find yourself in Germany, in an ice cream shop, you may notice one of the toppings they sell is hot raspberry sauce. It is delicious. I took the idea of heating up the strawberries from that.

Finally, to make it look fancier, and because my kids asked for it, I topped the whole thing with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. We loved this so much we all had seconds. Some of us may have even licked our bowls. I’m not saying who, though.

Frozen Vanilla Bean Custard with Hot Strawberry Sauce

And the best part about this all is that, for the first time in #baketogether history, I did not change any of the ingredients from the original recipe (which you can find on Abby’s blog here). I only changed the procedures. I think maybe I should get a special prize for that: Most Transformed Dessert Made Without Really Changing Anything, or something like that.

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Strawberry Peach Panna Cotta Popsicles

This month’s bake together doesn’t actually involve baking. In deference to the summer heat, and with sympathy for those of us who just can’t bear to turn on our ovens, Abby chose ricotta panna cotta with raspberry brezza fresca.

The point of the bake together is to put your own spin on the recipe, and spin it I did, enough, I’m sure, to make Abby dizzy.

Despite the fact that I had a perfectly good tub of ricotta in the fridge, I decided to use queso fresco for my panna cotta, and to make it myself. It is the perfect light, summer cheese, and ridiculously easy to make. I am lucky enough to have access to non-ultra pasteurized milk, which gives the cheese a magnificently fresh taste. (In case you are tempted to warn me of the dangers of raw milk, note that it is still pasteurized, just not to the same degree, literally). If I were a goat cheese person I’d probably have used goat’s milk, but try hard as I can, I just cannot get myself to like the stuff, so cow’s milk it was.

I also wanted this to be kid friendly, so I skipped the gin in the raspberry sauce. I also skipped the raspberries, and went with peaches and strawberries instead. What can I say, it was what I had sitting on my counter.

Then I layered the panna cotta and fruit puree in a set of popsicle molds and froze it. The result is delicious. Delicious!
Strawberry Peach Panna Cotta Popsicles

Make the Queso Fresco:

  • 2 quarts unhomogenized whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 T. lime juice
  1. Combine the milk and salt in a large pot.
  2. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk comes to a full boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and gently stir in the lime juice.
  4. Continue stirring gently until curds finish forming. This takes only about a minute.
  5. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, discarding the liquid and keeping the solids.
  6. Allow the curds to drain for 15 minutes, then proceed with panna cotta recipe.

Make the Fruit Puree:

  • 1 large peach, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 3 T. lime juice

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Make the Panna Cotta:

  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp. gelatin
  • 1 recipe queso fresco (see above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and let it sit until the gelatin has plumped up.
  2. Microwave it until the gelatin has completely melted, about 1 minute.
  3. Put all ingredients together in a food processor and process until smooth and well blended.

Assemble the Popsicles:

  1. Pour alternate payers of panna cotta and fruit puree into popsicle molds. Depending on what ratios you use you may have puree left over. Don’t panic, it is delicious on ice cream.
  2. Insert sticks into the molds and freeze until firm.

Oh Boy, Strawberry Pie!

My father likes to tell the story of how he was mercilessly teased by his family after one day walking into the kitchen to see his favourite dessert cooling on the counter, and exclaiming, rather more loudly than necessary “Oh boy, strawberry pie!” He says they could tease him and tease him all they wanted, but it didn’t matter. It was worth it for that pie.

I wish I could share my grandmother’s recipe with you, but I can’t. She passed away when I was a baby and her recipes passed with her. I can, however, share my recreation of it, based on my father’s memory.

It’s like no other strawberry pie I have ever seen, tasted, or read a recipe for. It is a cooked strawberry pie: think strawberry-rhubarb without the rhubarb, packed top to bottom with the sweetest, ripest, juiciest strawberries you can find. And I will warn you here and now that the quality of the strawberries you use matters.

My children love it almost as much as my father does. I made one last night after they went to bed. My oldest ate three pieces for breakfast. It’s that good.

Oh Boy, Strawberry Pie

For the crust:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 oz (12 T.) cold butter, cut into small chunks
  • 2 oz (4 T.) leaf lard (if you can get it, otherwise use all butter), cut into small chunks
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 c. ice water
  1. Blend the flour with the salt. Toss in the butter and lard and, working quickly, blend it into the flour. I do this by grabbing clumps between my thumb and fingertips and smearing them together.
  2. Blend until the fats are mostly, but not completely mixed into the flour. There should still be small lumps scattered through. Pour the water over the mixture – using the lesser amount if you live in a humid climate and the larger amount if you live in a dry one.
  3. Using your hands again, blend the ingredients just until the dough comes together into a ball. Divide it in two, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate it for 1/2 an hour while you prepare the filling.

For the strawberry filling:

  • 6 cups of sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup flour (yes, this is a lot for a pie, but strawberries are a very juicy fruit. You will need it)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  1. Combine all three ingredients and let them sit for 15 minutes to draw the juice out of the strawberries and hydrate the flour and sugar. This will let you blend them in more evenly.

To assemble the pie:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Roll out the bottom crust and lay it in the pie plate.
  3. Fill the plate with the strawberry mixture, spreading it out evenly.
  4. Roll out the top crust and fit it over the pie, trimming and crimping as necessary.
  5. Cut about a dozen vents in the top crust. This is crucial to let the steam escape and reduce the chances of you winding up with strawberry pie baked onto the bottom of your oven. (Still, I always lay a sheet of aluminum foil underneath it on the bottom rack just in case)
  6. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 60 to 80 minutes. It is done when the crust is nicely golden and the strawberry juices are boiling furiously (not just a little bit, wait for full on fury) in the vents of the top crust.
  7. Let the pie cool until just barely warm before cutting. It’s delicious as is, and even more delicious topped with vanilla ice cream.