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Monday, September 20, 2010

Almond Cookies with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sour Cherry Sauce

Dave is the most wonderful, attentive and honest partner I could ever ask for, and a true sport! He keeps me in line. When I first met Dave, he was a lover of frozen, microwavable hot pockets. As his palette has refined, I've been challenged to 'up' my cooking.

Forced to 'test' many recipes, I now count on Dave to suggest refinements to make my recipes better.  So now when he says "this is the best dessert you've ever made"- he means business.

Sour cherries are a bright. bright red color, not nearly as deep as the sweet Michigan cherry.  They are meant to be cooked rather than eaten straight.

There is something about the flavor combination of the sour cherries and the almond cookies with the hint of chocolate that just puts this over the top. While the cherry and chocolate combination seems like a given - I got lucky on this one. 

Make this for your loved one as soon as possible! He/she will completely owe you for this it. Fat and happy favors, oh yea.

Tips and techniques:  Sour cherry season is a short one in Chicago, just a few weeks in June. If there is one recipe you take away from this Fat and Happy blog- this is it!  Set your alarm for next June and count the days until they are in season again.

Almond Cookies with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sour Cherry Sauce

Almond Cookie
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter + 3 Tbls

1/2 tsp salt
2 vanilla beans
3 cups almonds
1/2 cup + 2 tbls flour
2 cups finely chopped

Mix all the above together, just until combined.  Roll the dough into a log, roughly 2 - 3" in width. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge, slice into 1/2 inch slices.  Bake until lightly golden brown.  Can bake these cookies ahead of time and freeze until ready to use.

Sour Cherry Sauce

2 cups of pitted cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 lemon, juiced

Place all ingredients into a sauce pan, simmer until thick and combined. Strain through a sieve, using a spatula to push through all the sauce. Discard the remaining rinds.

Vanilla Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups cream
1 cup half and half
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean soaked in vodka for a day

Begin to warm the cream and half and half over medium heat.  Whip the yolks with the sugar until fluffy, pale and doubled in size.  Temper the eggs with the warm cream.  Now add the eggs into the cream pot, stirring with your whisk. 

Scrape the vanilla bean, add to the cream and eggs.  Use your whisk to help distribute the vanilla. Be sure to stir often with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium-high heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon. (Run your finger on the back of a spoon, if it's thickened enough- you'll be able to draw a line through the custard.)

Remove from heat and cool in an ice bath, stirring often.  Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours.  This will produce a creamier ice cream.

Place in your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers directions.  Home made ice cream does not last as long as the store-bought, preservative-laden kind; it's best to enjoy within a week.

Putting it all together
Chill plates ahead of time.  Melt chocolate pieces and brush a swipe of the melted chocolate onto the chilled plate.

Place one or two cookies on the plate.  Top with scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with the sour cherry sauce.
Serve immediately.

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