I have skimped on biographical details here, in part because it’s not relevant and in part because it’s so easy to figure out with a bit of Googling. But, I was very happy to offer my ice cream making skills for my law school’s public interest auction a few months ago. The proceeds of the auction go to fund first years in their summer jobs at public interest jobs — a cause I care a great deal about, as a long-term public interest attorney.
I auctioned off an ice cream making tutorial, complete with four flavors of the winners’ choice, and cocktails. Four graduating women won the prize. Amidst drinks and my two favorite flavors (J & A — you remain super popular), I came up with a new one at the winners’ behest. It mixes a lovely lemon base with a delicious shortbread mix-in courtesy of Melissa Clark and the New York Times — and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Better still, you only need half the shortbread from the recipe; you can snack on the rest.
The finished product
Cookies and cream, of a sort.
I started baking in earnest a decade ago at my first job at Vintage/Anchor Books, a part of the Knopf Group (itself a part of Random House — now Penguin Random House), because I had a group of people to experiment on. In those days I was particularly fond of banana pudding, likely because of the Magnolia Bakery empire, and I often made it for work events. I haven’t made it in years, but there’s something so satisfying about the flavor and texture combinations that I felt like trying it out in ice cream form. You can buy Nilla wafers, or use the Serious Eats recipe, which you’ll only need half of for the ice cream.
A slight detour from ice cream. Because ice cream usually requires egg yolks but not egg whites, I frequently have leftover whites. I’m ashamed to say that I often just tossed them down the drain, but I’ve subsequently reformed my ways. I’ve been making pasta lately (more on this at another time, I’m sure), which also requires egg yolks but not whites. However, because of the sheer number of yolks required (as many as ten for a half batch of Flour + Water’s basic egg dough), the prospect of wasting that many egg whites was too much to bear. Keep in mind my mother told me recently that she didn’t want to throw out the simple syrup I had made a few months ago because when she was a young girl in India, sugar was rationed and the idea of discarding sugar was anathema to her. I guess in my family we try to avoid waste.
But what to do with egg whites? Someone suggested egg white omelettes, but I’ve always thought they’re kind of sad. I could spice nuts, but give that you only need one egg white for almost two cups of nuts, that seemed inefficient. So I decided to do meringues. I have some friends who don’t eat gluten, and thus my cookies are often off-limits to them. But meringues don’t use flour, so meringues are perfect for then. And, frankly, they’re pretty pleasant — a light treat for when one doesn’t want to be too indulgent.
Light, crunchy, and slightly rose.
An update! HC’s friend Charlie (who got married in the last post, L.A. Story) wrote to tell me that he was looking up a Jeni’s recipe and that it used cream cheese. This would explain the consistency that I found so unusual! (I corroborated this with HC’s friend Joe, who among other things was once a pastry chef, who agreed with me.) Mystery solved — maybe.
On to today’s installment. Bi-Rite is one of the Bay Area’s treasures, a grocery store and ice cream shop with two locations (one near Dolores Park, the other near Alamo Square). The line for the Bi-Rite Creamery can extend down the block, in an archetypal display of our local love for queuing.* I love a lot of their flavors, particularly Crème Brûlée and Brown Sugar with Ginger Caramel, but Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles) is also very good.