the sweetest thing

When it comes to your palate, what category would you class yourself in??

Are you like my mum was: a die hard dessert lover, turning to that section of the menu before even giving a passing thought to your main course option??

Or are you more of a savoury lover?? Someone who never has space for dessert until someone suggests finishing things off with a wee bit of cheese??

I guess it’s a good thing, but no matter how old I get I still seem to be learning things about myself. And while I would still have to put my hand up for cheese over a sweet finale any time, I have of late come to the realization that compared to the average person, I have a serious sweet tooth. OK so we’re not talking tea with five or more sugars but friends let me tell you, I have no kill switch when it comes to sweetened condensed milk.

When I was little one of my favourite things to lick was the condensed milk can after my beautiful Mum had used its precious contents to make her legendary lemon meringue pie. And if I thought I would have been able to get away with it I would have been like my dear old Dad, just wickedly guzzling the stuff straight from the can in one bellyache beckoning sitting.

Fortunately over the years I had forgotten just how much I loved the sweet milk.  That was until a recent meal at my favourite Sydney tapas joint. After a lovely selection of tapas with my dear friend Colette (a confirmed dessert gal from way back) we decided to share their version of a banana split. And while I was pretty proud of myself for actually ordering something with caramelized banana, to be honest it was the dulce de leche icecream that won my heart.

Dulce de leche is a South American treat that is heaven for caramel lovers. Relatively simple to make, all you really need is a can of sweetened condensed milk, a water bath to simmer it in and a spare hour or three. It’s one of those things that you’ll either love or find tooth-achingly sweet.

dulce de leche sauce.
Inspired by the boys at Bodega in Surry Hills.

Nowadays you can buy cans of pre prepared ‘caramel filling’ but I still prefer to make my own. This sauce is delicious on its own, or drizzled over vanilla icecream or better yet splodged in the middle of a hot chocolate souffle (see below)
1 375g can sweetened condensed milk
1/4C – 1/2C pouring cream

Place can in a very large saucepan and cover completely with water. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 3 ½ hours making sure the can is submerged the whole time. Allow to cool in the water.

Place caramelized condensed milk in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Gradually add in cream until you have a saucey consistency. Serve as is but try not to eat the whole batch with a spoon in one sitting.
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roasted bananas with dulce de leche icecream
serves 6
Icecream inspired by those crazy, tapas-loving kids at Bodega restaurant in Surry Hills.

While I love the intense caramel sweetness of this icecream, I understand that for those with more sugar sensitive palates it may be a little over the top. If you don’t have access to an icecream maker, feel free to serve the bananas with regular vanilla icecream and some dulce de leche sauce passed separately.

The icecream is also great on its own or sprinkled with toasted chopped pecans for some textural crunch.

for the icecream:
1 can sweetened condensed milk (see recipe above)
2C (500mL) full cream milk
4 egg yolks, lightly whisked
300mL pouring cream
pinch salt
for the bananas:
3 large ripe bananas
3T sugar
1 knob butter

For the icecream, cook simmer condensed milk can as per the recipe above but do not add cream. Combine caramelized condensed milk and milk in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Place cream in a small saucepan and heat until almost simmering. Stir cream into yolks and return the mix to the saucepan and cook stirring frequently until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, making sure not to bring it to the boil. Combine egg mixture with milk mix and a pinch of salt and whiz. Allow to cool to room temp then refrigerate until well chilled and freeze in an icecream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

For the bananas, preheat oven to 200C. Peel and halve bananas lengthwise and place in a baking dish cut side up. Sprinkle with sugar and dot with pieces of butter and bake for 15-20mins or until sizzling and starting to brown. Divide bananas between 6 bowls placing each in a crescent shape. Drop a large scoop of icecream into the hollow of the crescent and serve immediately.

 

chocolate soufflé with dulce de leche
serves 4
Souffle adapted from Guillaume Brahimi of Bennelong Restaurant in Sydney’s iconic Opera House.

Possibly the best soufflé I have ever encountered was last year at my work Christmas party lunch at Bennelong. I still remember the intense zesty passionfruit concoction served elegantly in a cute tiny copper saucepan with a scoop of disappointingly acidic passionfruit sorbet on the side. In spite of the lackluster accompaniment, the soufflé was memorable so when I spied Guillaume’s chocolate soufflé recipe in a Good Weekend, I squirreled it away for an appropriate occasion.

That occasion has been a long time in the making. I first planned to serve it as the finale for my Bastille Day dinner back in July but the largess of my guests in bringing an abundance of cheese filled our bellies to bursting and precluded any soufflé-ing. More recently on a trip to the family farm to visit my dear old Dad we ended up filling up on the main meal on not just one evening but two. So I came up with the brilliant idea to serve it as a Sunday afternoon tea treat and finally the soufflé was made.

You can make the chocolate mix ahead of time and refrigerate until needed. Then all you need to do is whisk your whites and combine everything and bake. For die hard chocolate fans, refrain from using the caramel sauce and serve plain or dusted with a little cocoa powder.

150g dark chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa solids
125mL (1/2C) whole milk
110g (1/2C) caster sugar
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
4 egg whites
pinch salt
pinch cream of tartar
butter for greasing
extra caster sugar for dusting
4T dulce de leche sauce, optional to serve

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease 4 tea cups or  4 large ramekins with butter and sprinkle with caster sugar, tipping out excess sugar. Break chocolate into small chunks and place in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl. Allow chocolate to melt gently. When almost melted remove from heat and stir, allowing the residual heat to melt the remaining chocolate. Stir through cold milk. Combine yolks and sugar and stir through chocolate.

Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until frothy and add salt & cream of tartar. Continue to whisk until firm peaks form. Stir a tablespoon of egg white through the chocolate mix to lighten it then gently fold through remaining whites.

Gently divide the mix between the 4 prepared dishes and wrap each with a collar of baking paper that stands at least 4cm above the rim of the dish. Tie with string. Place dishes on a baking tray and bake for 25 Р30mins or until souffl̩s are risen and the top looks cooked through.

Meanwhile warm the dulce de leche sauce in the microwave. When soufflés are cooked, dollup each with a spoonful of sauce and serve immediately.

 

my dad sure knows how to clean out a souffle

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