Rising to a challenge is something that we both enjoy. We signed on to participate in this round of KitchenPLAY fully knowing that the key ingredient would be Aunt Nellie’s baby whole pickled beets. As we waited to find out the assigned course, Amir and I plotted our course of attack. When we received the email that said dessert was our chosen path, I had a mild panic attack. I love beets, but in a dessert? Uncertainty struck. During our planning process, I repeatedly asked, “Um, what are we going with beets in a dessert?” Amir remained fairly calm, but I bet he was racking his brain too. We had officially been entered into the battle round with a tricky ingredient!
Our first idea dessert idea was a tart. There is a certain tart with a mix of goat cheese, cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla that I absolutely love! We shared it on the blog a while back, and I haven’t had a slice since then. Amir was gung ho about giving it a go with a new spin. We spent an afternoon at his apartment whipping together an absurdly good custard base and rolling out mini phyllo dough rounds for individual tartlets. After baking the tarts, the final result did not meet our approval. Back to the baking board for that one, but the beet portion of this dessert equation–or experiment, rather–did work.
Once we tasted Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets, we made note of the obvious sweetness and slight acidity of the beets. We were initially nervous that the flavor of the beets would conflict with the idea we had in mind for a sauce, but one taste assauged our fears. We set about heating beets with summer’s strawberries, sugar, orange juice and water. The rest of the process was a slow and easy simmer on the stove. After a quick blend, we had a sauce that needed something to rest upon.
The second idea centered around ice cream. Amir was busy with work and preparing for his wedding, so I said I’d pull out the ‘ol ice cream maker. I used a basic vanilla ice cream base, added room temperature goat cheese and let it rip. After a few hours, it was ice cream time. The pickled beet and strawberry sauce had thickened up nicely after a night in the fridge, and it served as a very rich, sweet, yet earthy topping to a tangy, creamy custard. The goat cheese flavor in the ice cream was mild and pleasant, which is nice when you have to ‘trick’ misbelievers to pick up a spoon. The pickled beet and strawberry sauce was another tricky concoction. It was thicker than a traditional strawberry sauce, plus it lacked a certain silky sheen. These are the only qualities that would have let an unsuspecting eater know that there was a new ingredient in their favorite ice cream topping. Sometimes you have to be sneaky.
There are so many beet and goat cheese combinations out there, and no doubt someone has discovered a brand new way to put them together. This was our attempt to switch up the normal vegetable and cheese pairing, and we ate it as the meal’s finish. Aunt Nellie’s pickled beets have been some of the better jarred varieties we have tasted in a while, and we’ve proven just how they can be used for a sweet treat. Be sure to check out the other KitchenPLAY entries this month! Be sure to follow Aunt Nellie’s on Twitter, and watch for the #kitchenplay hash tag for more recipes. There’s another way you can join the beet bonanza:
To have even more fun with Aunt Nellie’s full line of glass-packed vegetables, sign up here to receive a coupon good toward the purchase price of any Aunt Nellie’s product. Then, create your own fun dish using that product for a chance to win $250 from Aunt Nellie’s and Kitchen PLAY. See specific rules at Kitchen PLAY. Limited quantities available. Sweepstakes ends 8/15/12.
Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Pickled Beet and Strawberry Sauce – Serves 8 to 10
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until pale yellow, thick and ribbony, approximately 3 minutes. Make sure the sugar has very nearly dissolved in the mixture.
2. In a heavy sauce pan, heat the heavy cream and milk until bubble just being to appear along the edge of the pot. Ladle approximately ¼ cup of the hot dairy into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly to warm the egg mixture. Scrape the slightly warmed egg mixture into the sauce pan and continue cooking until the custard base thickens and coats the back of a spoon. The custard should reach about 160 degrees if you check with a thermometer.
3. Remove from heat, stir in the goat cheese until smooth. Cool completely. If you want to rush the process, pour the custard into a heat-resistant bowl, then set that into a larger bowl filled with ice. Stir until the liquid is totally cold. If you have more time, pour the custard into a heat-resistant bowl and cool to about room temperature. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure the plastic makes direct contact with the liquid. Chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
4. Once the base is cold, pour into the frozen base of your ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound strawberries, chopped
16 ounces Aunt Nellie’s baby whole pickled beets, drained and chopped, pickling juice reserved
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup pickling juice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Drop the butter into a heavy sauce pan and set over medium high heat. Once melted, add the strawberries, beets, orange juice and zest, sugar, water and pickling liquid. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce for a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and mash the ingredients to break up the pieces. Add the ginger and vanilla, then cook for another 15-20 minutes or until reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes.
3. Pour the liquid into a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve the sauce slightly warm or chill until ready to use.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KitchenPLAY and Aunt Nellie’s. We received compensation and product for our participation, but all opinions are our own.