Every once in a while my office holds its own Iron Chef competition. Usually the winner of the last competition chooses the ingredient but because several years have passed the organizer put it to a vote. I was torn between two of the options, sweet potato and garlic. I figured if sweet potato won I'd sweep the field with another Turcaken. But I do so love garlic. In the end I voted for garlic and it won so I got down to business planning a garlic dish. Of course I was going to do a dessert because that's where I excel in the cooking. But what to do? My mind went immediately to garlic ice cream which I'd been dying to try but that alone did not seem to be unique enough to enter. So I did some Googling for garlic desserts to see what was out there and one of the more interesting recipes I came across was garlic chocolate chip cookies. And then I figured, I could make it even better if I made regular chocolate chip cookies with garlic ice cream. And so began the terrible adventure.
The ice cream was easy and pretty much went the way of all my ice creams:
5 heads garlic (heads, not cloves)
2 tablespoons butter
1 liter half-and-half cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
I roasted the garlic the night before I made the cream base (not for any recipe reasons, just because I didn't have time to do everything at once) and the entire apartment smelled like garlic for a while. I was constantly hungry and all I wanted to do was get some bread and butter and eat the air.
Peeling the five heads took forever and was something of a sticky mess. But I finally got them all done and into the blender.
Then I made the base by mixing the cream and sugar in a saucepan, heating to the boiling point and pouring it over the egg yolks while whisking briskly.
Then about a cup of that went into the blender with the garlic.
And I pureed until it was as smooth as possible.
Then mixed it in with the rest of the cream base.
The next day i mixed up the ice cream and made the sandwiches. I really could have used a lot more time for the process and it was a pain. It took me about three and half hours to make all the sandwiches. The ice cream didn't have a lot of time to set up so I could only make about 6-10 of them before I had to rush everything back into the freezer and wait 15-20 minutes for it to refreeze. Then repeat proceedure over and over and over. But finally they were done!
I have to say that I was a little afraid that my culinary genius had lead me astray. I'd sampled some of the ice cream and, despite my adoration of both all things garlic and ice cream and my tendancy to use garlic rather more liberally than most people prefer, the ice cream was so strongly garlic it even made me a little sick. While still convinced of my baking superiority I wondered if I hadn't crossed that thin line into mad scientist genius?
Lauren gave me a ride into work as my two heaping pans of ice cream sandwiches would never have survived the hour metro ride. As it turns out half of them didn't survive. It was raining heavily and while balancing the two pans, my bags, and an umbrella while trying to catch the door she opened for me...the top pan of cookies slid off my pile and ended up in the wet wet gutter. Lauren was in the car covering her face with a CD so she didn't have to look and I just stood outside letting the rain soak me as I watched all my hard work go, quite literally, down the drain.
I looked at Lauren and gave a little sob. "Sniff" said I (I tend to verbalize my sniffs and sighs). I got in the car and rode into the office in silence. I entered the competition anyway with what remained but my zeal for the whole thing was nowhere to be found. Competition time came and I had a small bite of one of the sandwiches. I knew I had to try it as entries were supposed to be secret and I couldn't just ignore it but I certainly didn't want the while thing. The little bite I had though was pleasantly surprising. Against the sweetness of the cookie and the chocolate, the garlic flavour of the ice cream was much subtler than it was on its own. I was not the only one to enter with a dessert and hadn't expected to be. There were, funnily enough, garlic chocolate chip cookies and a garlic peach sorbet along with a slew of savory foods.
Everyone sampled and discussed and scored and a few hours later, after recheking all our math and tabulating all the results, the event organizer announced that the next Unnamed Organization Iron Chef was...
Use of this photo courtesy of Unnamed Organization's communications guy who doesn't really know I'm using it :) Thanks Dude.
I was really surprised. Really and honestly. There were a couple things that I liked better than my dish but I think I edged out those with originality points. So yay me! My confidence in my culinary genius as been restored. Now I get to choose the ingredient for next year. Currently I'm waivering between bacon and lemon...but I have a whole year to be indecisive or choose something completely different.