Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What sparks you? Lindsey Johnson

My best ideas come to me in flashes.  I wake up each morning and go to sleep each night thinking about recipes, ingredients, flavors and textures.

My mind is organized into slightly chaotic file folders, not too different from the recipe binders and manila envelopes filled with magazine clippings that I store the drawers of a dresser in my family room.  I know where everything is, but don't ask anyone else to go looking for a recipe or we might have to send out a search party.  An idea or flash might get filed away for later, or I might place a mental sticky note on top so I can revisit it as soon as possible.

I thrive on creativity in the kitchen, particularly those flashes and ideas.  I think about pairing different foods together in new ways. I try to visualize flavors and textures.  These things get me into trouble sometimes when my more creative recipes are just a tad too "creative."

The idea for Smore's Ice Cream Sandwiches crept into my thoughts one day a few summers ago.  I had a bee in my bonnet and I contacted a blogging friend to ask her opinion on making frozen marshmallows.  We e-mailed back and forth and I spent a few weeks trying out my idea.  They were a delicious few weeks to be sure.  My kids, my husband, and I didn't seem to tire as we tasted each batch of perfect and not-so-perfect frozen marshmallow attempts.  Alas, I gave up my efforts as the summer heat gave way to cooler autumnal days and baking took over my ice cream making.

When April asked me if I'd pop over and do a guest post, I knew this was the recipe I wanted to resurrect,  perfect and share with you.  So I dug out my notes and got to work.

Creativity can be work sometimes, can't it?  Nothing sparks my creativity more than working hard and opening the channels in my brain.  Sometimes it feels like I figuratively dump all the mental file folders on the floor, but eventually I pick everything up, reorganize and once again feel the energy surge. Like I said, I thrive on it.

A quick Google search on "frozen marshmallows" and "marshmallow ice cream" led me to a few posts that were written recently.  I added them to my notes and went back to work.  Eventually I settled on an idea I found here for Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream.  I abandoned my frozen marshmallows for the time being.  I took the new recipe a step further by making homemade marshmallows, a favorite treat for our family.  And there it was--perfection.

I hope you'll enjoy this recipe was much as my family has.  It may seem like a lot of work, but the result is so magical it's worth it--a surprising, fun treat for an afternoon or evening 4th of July BBQ.

Smore's Ice Cream Sandwich Bars
recipe from Lindsey Johnson of Cafe Johnsonia

1 Recipe Homemade Graham Crackers*

1 recipe Homemade Marshmallows

1 recipe Ice Cream Base (recipe follows)

1 recipe Chocolate Sauce (recipe follows)

Ice Cream Base

10 oz. homemade marshmallows (about 3/4 of the recipe; can use store-bought)
1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups light whipping cream

Preheat oven broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay half the marshmallows on the baking sheet and toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, watching very carefully so they don't burn. Remove baking sheet from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Scrape the toasted marshmallows into the bowl of a food processor.  (You can also use a blender.)

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until thick.  Heat milk in a saucepan until very hot, but not boiling.  Gradually drizzle the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture while whisking.  After all of the milk has been added, pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat until thickened and is 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.  Pour the hot custard into the food processor or blender and turn, pulsing on and off, until well combined.  Add the cold cream (if you are using a blender, it might not all fit, pour it into a bowl) and pulse again.  Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and chill in the refrigerator until very cold.  Because of the gelatin in the marshmallows, the custard will set up a bit.  Whisk to loosen it before churning in an ice cream maker.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.  Transfer the ice cream to a freezer proof container.  Place a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream and allow to harden in the freezer for about an hour before assembling ice cream sandwiches.

Chocolate Sauce

1 package semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate chips
4 Tbsp. butter

Place the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted.  Set aside until ready to use.  (If the sauce sets up too much or gets hard, heat gently in the microwave on 50% power until melted again.)

To assemble:

Place the graham crackers upside down on two wire racks placed on rimmed baking sheets.  Top each round with 1/4 cup of the ice cream.  Use a knife or spatula to press it down a bit.  Place the baking sheets in the freezer and allow the ice cream to get firm, about 15 minutes.

Spoon a good amount of the chocolate sauce over the ice cream and top with another graham cracker round.  Gently press down.  Place baking sheet into the freezer for another 15 minutes or so.  Wrap each ice cream sandwich in waxed paper and store in freezer until ready to serve.  Will keep for 2-3 days.

Makes 16, 3" sandwiches.

*This is my favorite recipe for graham crackers.  I use half whole wheat flour and only bake them for 10 minutes when using them as cookies for ice cream sandwiches.  Roll dough out to 1/8"- 1/4" and use a 3" round cookie cutter to get 32 rounds, enough to make 16 sandwiches.

Lindsey Johnson writes the food blog Cafe Johnsonia.  She lives in Utah County with her husband and three children.  She has been featured on Design Mom, Cafemom's The Stir, was named one of's Top 100 Mom Food Bloggers 2011, and contributes monthly to Make and Takes.