Happy National Strawberry Sundae Day!
[Yikes. Is she really going to cover every single contrived food holiday even marginally related to ice cream?]
YES! So, deal with it.
Are there components besides strawberries that characterize a "strawberry sundae"? Or is any sundae that prominently features strawberries a "strawberry sundae"? Did McDonald's invent this food holiday to drum up business for their version?
These are the hard-hitting questions, my friends.
As you can see, I made my own strawberry sundae last night and while I will surely be criticized by some for using vanilla ice rather than strawberry ice cream, all I will say is: "Haters gonna hate."
Forgive the blurriness, my eyes glazed over in anticipation.
This past week I received my bimonthly box from Try The World, a subscription service that sends you a curated box of food products from a particular country.
Naturally, I'm predisposed to love any type of vendor that delivers food to your door; however, Try the World is truly in a league of its own. From the cute but utilitarian packaging (collapsible Tiffany-blue boxes!), to the diversity in components (cookies, tea, sauces, spices!), to the clever touches (recipes and historical background sheets), this company has definitely tapped into what jet-setting (or those who aspire to be) foodies want.
The most recent box contained an assortment of goodies made in and traditionally associated with Argentina, including a jar of Magdalena Dulce de Leche. Some refer to Dulce de Leche as the official dessert of Argentina and while I'm not particularly well-versed in Argentine cuisine, cursory research suggests this sweet condiment is most often used to adorn baked goods.
Leave it to an American, then, to dump a whole lotta it on some vanilla bean ice cream.
This product makes generic-brand caramel seem like HFCS-flavored rubber cement.
The July issue of Food & Wine contains a mouth-watering recipe for miso caramel sauce:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white miso
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and butter and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat.
In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, corn syrup and water and cook over moderately high heat, without stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any crystals from the side of the pan. Continue to cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until an amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream mixture; it will bubble up. When the bubbles subside, very carefully pour the hot caramel into a heatproof blender. With the blender on medium speed, gradually add spoonfuls of the miso until incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then whisk in the vanilla.
The only thing stopping me from making this sauce RIGHT NOW is the absence of white miso in our pantry. I think we have approximately 400 different asian ingredients and condiments, but not that one.
The article recommends serving the miso caramel sauce with vanilla ice cream. Pshaw! If you are going to go gourmet caramel, go all the way baby. Ladle that luscious sauce over multiple scoops of Haagen-Dazs Applewood-Smoked Caramel Almond.
Well, I think it's already been established that I'm just a girl who can't say "no" when it comes to ice cream. Thus in planning my recent trip to New York City I made sure to engrave in my schedule a visit to Serendipity 3.
Serendipity 3 is not the best ice cream parlor in New York City and critics rightfully note its spotty service, lackluster (non-ice cream) menu options, and generally touristy atmosphere.
Also, there is ONE female stall for the entire two-floor establishment. Approximately 12 Tiffany lamps and 1 toilet. Welcome to New York.
Nevertheless, few can contest the fact that Serendipity's claim to fame, the Frozen Hot Chocolate, is a deliciously divine creation. That's not, however, what I wanted to try. #rebel
If I had a million dollars and no shame, I would have called 24 hours in advance to order their second most famous item, the "Golden Opulence Sundae," replete with three scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, caviar, edible gold leaf, and chocolate syrup made Amedei Porcelana.
But since "modesty" is my middle name, I settled for the "Can't Say No" Sundae. Served in a mixing bowl-size glass dish, this sundae combines sliced banana, scoops of vanilla ice cream with the girth of softballs, hot fudge, and a generous slice of "humble pie," Serendipity's housemade chocolate peanut butter pie with a graham cracker crust. I requested (and was granted) the addition butterscotch syrup as well.
While the quality of the ice cream and syrups was top-notch, what really made the sundae was the lovely soft creamy texture of the overripe bananas and the Humble Pie, whose intense peanut butter flavor just just verged on cloying.
Goddamn, it was delicious. I cleaned my bowl and could have had another.
This weekend, I began reading a cute albeit incomplete history of ice cream written by Laura Weiss. Its section on the development of the sundae as a particularly American phenomenon was brief, confirming my suspicion that more research is warranted in this area, but Weiss did include a mention and recipe of a sundae dating back to 1918: The Over the Top.
Two things immediately strike me regarding its origins. First, the date (1918) marks the conclusion of World War I. Were American giddy from their recent victory feeling deserving of a decadent, over-the-top treat?
Second, the site of invention: Detroit, Michigan. At the turn of the century, Detroit was already an industrial center, but not, however, the country's leading center of maple syrup production. Thus, there is much more to this story regarding the sundae's signature ingredient, which is...exciting!
Thanks to my Mainer in-laws, we have a steady supply of real maple syrup delivered to our house, so that component was on hand. Whipped cream? Yes albeit in the form of Cool Whip (don't judge too harshly). Vanilla ice cream? No, but vanilla frozen yogurt would have to do.