There are certain things that are fundamental food-related things to learn about a person when you've been dating for a while. There's the basics: food allergies, likes, dislikes. Then there's favorite type of cuisine: Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Indian.
Then, of course, there's favorite type of dessert: cake, pie, ice cream...
The fun in getting to know someone really comes from knowing the stories behind those preferences, along with other random factoids about them.
Last weekend, we were celebrating, and, knowing my boyfriend's love for anything ice cream, I made an Irish coffee ice cream cake.
When I went to serve it, I pulled out the bottle of Magic Shell that I had used to drizzle and decorate the top of the cake. You know, because when you have something with Magic Shell, you always want to add more of it.
That's when I learned something that rocked me to my very core... he had never heard of, seen, or tasted Magic Shell.
Magic Shell was an integral part of my childhood. Any birthday party involved cake, ice cream, and a bottle of this liquid gold out on the table. There would be arguments if someone used too much, and left none for the rest (guilty). Watching the sweet syrup turn solid was sheer magic.
And though I now understand the science behind it (don't worry, I'm not going to ruin that mystery here and now), I still reach for a bottle along with my ice cream when I'm stressed. To think of a childhood without Magic Shell... Well, that explains a lot.
The point of this cake, however, is not Magic Shell. It's about celebrating a wonderful milestone with someone, since this cake is a labor of love. You have to make the ice cream (without drinking too much Bailey's while doing it), mix up a cake, freeze the components, and assemble them (again, without eating too much of the ice cream in the process).
You then have to decide how you want to decorate this delicious gift. I suggest wrapping it in ribbons of Magic Shell. You may learn something new about someone... and be able to rock their world with Magic (shell).
Irish Coffee Ice Cream
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
20 oz almond milk, unsweetened
16 oz heavy cream
4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
2 tbsp instant espresso
1 vanilla bean
3 large egg yolks
4 large eggs
8 oz sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk together the sugar and eggs, and egg yolks until light in color. Set aside.
In a saucepan, heat milk, cream, scrapings from vanilla bean, and empty vanilla bean pod until just at boiling point. Slowly pour half of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Again whisking constantly, pour egg mixture back into saucepan. Remove vanilla bean pod and add espresso. Cook mixture until it holds a line across the back of a wooden spoon (~8-10 minutes).
Pour custard into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of any eggy bits. Stir in Bailey's and vanilla extract. Chill mixture for 2-12 hours.
Prepare ice cream in your ice cream maker per the manufacturer's instructions. Add in marshmallow fluff towards the end. Transfer to a storage container, and place in the freezer to firm up.
Chocolate Midnight Mocha Cake
Adapted slightly from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark dutch-processed cocoa
1 tsp instant espresso
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8" baking pans with baking spray (note that you'll only need one for this ice cream cake-- freeze the other in saran wrap after baking for later use, since this cake freezes beautifully). Set aside
In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Slowly whisk in boiling water 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between additions. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then the oil. Note that the batter will be very thin.
Pour batter into cake pans and bake until cake springs back when touched, around 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven, invert onto wire cooling racks, and allow to cool 10 minutes. While still warm, wrap in saran wrap and freeze (this helps keep the cakes moist-- I learned this trick from my Wilton cake class).
Assembling the cake
Line an 8" cake pan with parchment paper, and place one of the baked cake layers on top. Soften the ice cream for a few minutes, then use a spatula to add ice cream on top. Cover and freeze overnight.
The next day, remove the cake from the pan and place on a plate. Cover the top of the cake with parchment paper and run a warm, dry icing spatula over the parchment on the cake to smooth it. I like to warm the spatula by running it under hot water and drying with a towel. Repeat with sides of cake to smooth them. Place back in the freezer for an hour.
When ready to decorate, remove cake from freezer, add toppings (I used chopped chocolate-covered dried cherries), and drizzle with magic shell. Place back in freezer until ready to serve.