Hello! I’m excited to announce a collaboration between Dessert First and Alessi for the month of May: four recipes by me, photographed in some of Alessi’s beautiful and distinctive pieces.
This partnership came about a couple months when I was invited to preview some of Alessi’s newest pieces for spring and summer. I’ve long been a fan of Alessi’s designs, which range from playful and whimsical to elegant and timeless.
After expressing my long-standing enthusiasm for Alessi’s products, I was thrilled when the company asked if I’d like to pick out several items and feature them in my posts. Alessi has a long history of creative collaboration with not just designers but other creative artists. While they have commissioned recipes to go with their products, they don’t have many dessert recipes. I was happy to step up and help fill in that gap.
This first post of the series will hopefully put you in the mood for spring-to-summer. Alessi has some gorgeous ice cream bowls called Big Love that are big enough to hold a sundae’s worth of ice cream. In fact, the product notes indicate it was designed for lovers; thus the single heart-shaped spoon meant to be shared by a happy couple. I immediately knew that I wanted to put an ice cream sundae in Big Love as the perfect welcome to more sunshine.
The flavor was also a simple choice: strawberries are always a harbinger of sunny days and summer vacation to me (they also remind me of my birthday – I almost always have something with strawberries to celebrate my May birthdate). Strawberry ice cream, with the strawberries roasted to bring out their flavor. To play up the whimsy of Alessi’s bowl, I decided to swirl in some marshmallow creme – it adds a touch of fluffy lightness to the rich, custard-based ice cream. To keep the marshmallow separate from the rest of the ice cream, swirl it in at the very end by hand instead of adding it directly to the ice cream machine – I learned that the hard way!
To make it a proper sundae, I topped the ice cream with some almond praline and Valrhona chocolate pearls. I love adding crunch to ice cream, and I also like how the marshmallow and the chocolate give a subtle neapolitan theme to the sundae.
Big Love comes in a variety of summer-bright shades, but I was particularly smitten by the fuchsia color: a vibrant counterpoint to the pale pink of the strawberry ice cream. Whatever color you choose, it’s a striking vessel for displaying an indulgent amount of ice cream.
Come back next Friday for the second installment of Dessert First x Alessi!
- 1 pint ( 3/4 lb) (340 g) strawberries
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) light corn syrup
Ice Cream Base
- 2 cups (460 g) heavy cream
- 1 cup (230 g) whole milk
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 3/8 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) light corn syrup
- 1/8 cup (30 ml) water
- pinch of salt
- 1 large egg white
- pinch cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
For the strawberries:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and hull the strawberries.
- Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the strawberries feel soft and mushy and the juices are coming out.
- Put strawberries and any juices into a large bowl. Add the corn syrup and stir to combine.
- You can either puree the strawberries in a food processor if you want a smooth ice cream or you can partially puree them/mash with a fork if you want strawberry pieces in your ice cream.
- Refrigerate strawberries while you make the ice cream base.
For the ice cream base:
- Combine cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat on medium until it just comes to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, place egg yolks in a large bowl.
- Temper the egg yolks by pouring a fourth to a third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent yolks from scrambling.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a large container. Place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, cover, and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight until thoroughly chilled.
For the marshmallow creme:
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F.
- While the sugar is cooking, place egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip egg whites just to soft peaks. If the sugar mixture has not reached 240 degrees F yet, turn off the mixer.
- With the mixer running on high, pour the sugar mixture in a steady stream down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Whip on high speed for several minutes until meringue becomes stiff and glossy.
- Add vanilla and whip to combine.
- Scrape marshmallow creme into a container. It can be used right away or refrigerated.
To finish the ice cream:
- Stir the strawberries into the ice cream base and freeze according to ice cream machine manufacturer's instructions.
- While the ice cream is freshly frozen (still soft, not in the freezer yet), fold in about 3/4 cup of the marshmallow creme. Put ice cream in a container and finish freezing in the freezer.
For the almond praline:
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Continue to cook mixture on high heat, without stirring, until sugar mixture becomes dark golden.
- Remove from heat immediately to prevent burning. Add in the almonds and stir to combine.
- Pour out mixture onto prepared sheet into a thin even layer. Let set before breaking into pieces.