Display of Pleasure: Blueberry, Butterscotch, Salt and Chocolate
*Exciting News! Salty Seattle will be featured on The Cooking Channel’s Food(ography) hosted by Mo Rocca this Sunday, March 20th at 6:00pm PST, 9:00pm EDT. If you miss the premiere episode, there are repeat showings throughout the week on March 22, 26, 27, and 31. Get thee to a TeeVee and check it out. Even better, if you are in Seattle, join the party and watch with me at Pnk Ultra Lounge, 600 Pine St from 5:30-8:00pm.
This dessert will invoke the feline in you. Don’t try to deny it; everyone has some cat inside, whether it’s a parlor pussy with orange silk fur and a barely audible purr when you scratch just right or a snarling leopardess who attacks anything in sight with bared teeth and bucking hindquarters.
What both of those catty creatures have in common is their sultry ability to lick with gnashing abandon. This is a licking dessert. You want to slather each texture throughout your mouth. When you’re finished you are left breathless, wishing you could lap up more with your over-stimulated tongue.
There is a spine of blueberry glass made to look like the stalagmites of a stegosaurus that manages to be equally stiff, porcelain, sweet, hot and cold. It’s hot because it pierces the nubile crumb layer of a chocolate lava cake revealing a molten slick of seeping chocolate. It’s cold because it’s perched in the soft bosom of salted butterscotch ice cream that dapples the glass with smears of sweet custard.
The salted butterscotch ice cream rouses reminiscence of one high school summer. I’m riding bitch in a bikini between my boyfriend and best friend. We are on our way to a secret swimming hole. There are vinyl bench seats and the Violent Femmes belt Blister in the Sun. A drop of sweat, cold from the air whipping through the window, pools on my lip. I lick it and it tastes like fertile August, invincibility, salt. A lick that conquers fears and inspires hedonistic thoughts. That sweat. This ice cream.
Spheres of liquid blueberry quiver on the plate. Engorged udders, they wait for the gentle palpitation of fork tines to help the juice flow. The small, blue balls unloose floodgates of sticky syrup pools in delicious opposition to the sweet, brittle shards.
The molten cake is a sin that transcends gluttony. Hot like a MILF, forbidden, irresistible. Once you get inside, you close your eyes and search only with your tongue, giving in to the irresistible need to taste more of the warm, melted chocolate.
The soft down of powdered peanut brittle alights on the elements of dessert. A ski lodge in the morning before the Snow-Cats have had a chance to groom. Very fine dust gives the mountains, the trees, the vast expanses of white, an ethereal quality. Have you ever made love in the snow? There is a lot of licking.
The composition of a plate is sometimes simple and familiar, like arranging a nest of pasta under the weight of sauce. Other times, like these, an orgiastic crescendo of ingredients tumbles together and it takes restrained effort to parse them into something that is at once mind-blowing and cohesive. The search for beauty in food is not dissimilar to the hunt for true love. It can be wrought with pleasure and pain, but when you find it, when you put that perfect bite to your lips, you know it was all worth it.
Elements of Blueberry, Butterscotch, Salt and Chocolate
- ½ c sugar
- ¼ c light corn syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ c blueberry puree from fresh or frozen blueberries that have been blended and strained
- Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil on medium high heat. Stirring frequently, monitor the temperature of the mixture. When it reaches 300°F, quickly remove it from heat and pour onto a silpat-lined baking sheet.
- Using a spatula or two forks, spread the mixture as thin as possible, which will give more transparent glass and better texture. Allow to harden, then break into spiny shards. Reserve.
Salted Butterscotch Ice Cream
- ¾ c brown sugar
- ¼ c butter
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- 1.5 c cream
- 1.5 c whole milk
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten (I prefer duck)
- 2 tbsp (or to taste) large crystal finishing salt like Maldon or Cyprus Flake
- Heat butter and brown sugar together in a medium saucepan stirring frequently. Once the sugar is melted and the mixture fully combined, heat an additional two minutes for the butter to become nutty and the sugar to caramelize. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 c cream. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Add the remaining ½ c cream and the bourbon and place the bowl in an ice bath.
- Heat the milk and salt in a medium saucepan. Once it boils, pour 1/3 of it into the egg yolks. And whisk vigorously. Return the remaining milk to boil over medium heat. Pour in the yolk mixture, whisking all the while. The custard should thicken instantly using this method, so be very mindful not to overheat to the point that the eggs curdle. Remove thickened custard from heat.
- Pour custard through strainer into butterscotch cream. Stir to combine and let chill completely in ice bath. Place the chilled custard in the refrigerator to deepen the flavor for minimum 8 hours, max 12.
- Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Toward the end of churning, add the finishing salt and ensure that it mixes evenly. Reserve in freezer.
Spherification of Blueberry Syrup
- 300 grams blueberries
- 100 grams sugar
- 300 grams water
- 2.4 grams sodium alginate
- 1 liter purified water
- 6.5 grams calcium chloride
- Heat the blueberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan until blueberries disintegrate into the water and the consistency is like simple syrup. Blend, then put through a strainer. Measure out 500 grams of puree and use the remainder for a different application.
- Put roughly half of the blueberry puree into an immersion blender and add the alginate. Blend to smooth, then add the rest of the puree. Make sure the alginate is fully-incorporated into the blueberries. Pour into a shallow container, which makes it easier to scoop.
- Mix the purified water with the calcium chloride in a shallow container that leaves water depth of 2-3”.
- Drop blueberry puree into the calcium chloride bath using a teaspoon or tablespoon, depending on what size spheres you want. Allow “shell” to set for about one minute, then remove to a bath of pure water and reserve in water bath until ready to use. I suggest making the spheres within a half an hour of use, as the longer they sit in the water bath, the more solid the interior becomes.
For the peanut brittle powder, simply toss peanut brittle into the food processor and pulverize to dust.
For the molten lava cake, follow any basic dark chocolate lava cake recipe. I like to pour into mini-cupcake pans so that the cakes are manageable with the rest of the dessert.
To plate, set a scoop of butterscotch ice cream on one side of the plate and a lava cake adjacent. Pierce the lava cake with a shard of blueberry glass and rest glass in ice cream. Scatter a few blueberry spheres around and dust the whole thing with peanut brittle powder.