Posted on May 24, 2011 in All Recipe Posts, Ice cream & Sorbet | 18 comments

I seem to have abandoned my post (pardon the pun).  Back again now and with a special mission.  Awards!!  Oh, yes, and there is a recipe too :-)

In the past month or so, I’ve been very lucky (and very stunned) to receive several awards from fellow bloggers and kindred spirits.  As a novice blogger, I’m very grateful to them for their encouragement and inspiration.  I’m honestly in awe of some of the wonderful blogs out there.  The recipes are delightful, the photography is beautiful, showcasing dishes to perfection (especially the desserts!), and the writing is so often imbued with passion, wit, and humour.  I wonder how some of you do it, posting so prolifically, consistently, and with such an ability to entertain.  I’ve only been at it since October 2010 and I must admit I’m pleased with myself if I can post once a week for a few weeks at a time.  I wish I could do it more often.    The great thing is though, I’ve already found a community of kindred spirits out there as well as some pretty inspirational people, all of whom have generous souls.  The desire to share really does reward and enrich and undoubtedly leads to a great deal of good karma and great food.

The first batch of awards was given by the absolutely fantabulous Gourmantine of Gourmantine’s Blog.  Go, go, go and visit her blog.  Now.  This globe-trotting gal dishes up some fabulous food with style and panache.  She’s also extremely lovely and I’m forever grateful for our exchanges and for her encouragement and all too generous comments.

The ‘Versatile Blogger Award’ was given to Chocolate Chilli Mango by the very lovely Natalie at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian.  A fellow vegetarian who’s recipes cross the globe and a variety of cultures.  Wonderful recipes and they’re usually very healthy too.  Everything looks so fresh and delicious you just want to jump into those gorgeous photos and tuck in or rush off to the kitchen and start cooking.

A big thank you to you both :-)

In keeping with blogger award tradition, here are “a few things about me you may not know” (cringes):

  • While at school, I struggled with a choice between studying physics at university or embarking on a career as a pastry chef.  Physics won out at the time so I got my PhD and left uni as an astrophysicist.  Seriously?  Yep … and now I work as a business consultant.  I’m the ultimate sell-out.
  • My postgraduate years at uni did give me the chance to indulge in both of my passions so I pursued my love of baking and pastry on the side.  I started making customised special occasion cakes as a side-line business.  I called it “Tortes, Tarts, Anything”.  The guys at uni thought it was a funny name. Hmmm ;-)
  • I have always loved to read.  My book collection is huge and I treat my books with a reverence that may well be inappropriate.  Strangely though, I only look at my cookbooks for inspiration and rarely follow recipes.
  • I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  I have every season on DVD, all the Season 8 comic books, t-shirts and a couple of collector’s mugs.  Not quite sure what came over me but I suspect I’d like to be her when I grow up.  One day.
  • When I travel, I keep a little diary with me.  At the end of each trip, it tends to be filled with excursions to patisseries, chocolatiers and ideas for recipes :-)
  • While I love to bake and make desserts, I’ve always had an aversion to milk, cream, and eggs.  It’s a little ironic but it makes for interesting times when I have to make pastry cream in large quantities.

Most importantly, I’d like to pass on these awards!  I’ve included Gourmantine and Natalie’s blogs because … well, because I really love their blogs and think they’re fabulous.  These blogs have become part of my favourites that I love to visit regularly – great recipes, charm, wit and humour, gorgeous photos and inspiring generous individuals behind the scenes:

Gourmantine’s Blog

Cook Eat Live Vegetarian

BraveTart

The Pastry Affair

The Cake Mistress

Tartelette

Exclusively Food

Cannelle et Vanille

La Mia Vita Dolce

Trattoria di Martina

Again, a huge chocolate thank you to Gourmantine and Natalie!

A big thank you also to everyone who has subscribed to Chocolate Chilli Mango, or liked my Facebook page, or has visited and provided much appreciated comments and feedback.  I think I would have already given up on it, if it hadn’t been for your support.  I hope the recipes I post in future will give you as much pleasure as they do to me.

You might have noticed a new look to the blog … I’m in the process of overhauling it but have to send a very special thank you to Simone at 365Cups for her fabulous graphic design talents and the great job she’s done to create the Chocolate Chilli Mango logo and all the design elements for web and print.  Not just a savvy business woman but also a very talented graphic designer and a lovely girl.

What?  I forgot the recipe?  No way!  Here it is … and remember, we don’t need no fancy schmancy gelato machines where we’re going

Salted Caramel Gelato

As usual, this gelato is made in a semifreddo style.  It’s rich and creamy but also quite light in texture.  The caramel flavour is intense and very satisfying.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients
100 grams sugar
60 grams pure cream (35% milk fat)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or fleur de sel
20 grams salted butter, cubed
50 grams sugar
20 grams water
4 egg yolks
400 grams double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean

Instructions
Make the caramel.  Place the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan.  I use a solid stainless steel saucepan for this as it is a dry caramel and I like to keep a close eye on the colour.  If it burns, the caramel will be bitter and you will have to throw it out and start again.  You don’t want that.  I don’t want that.  So use a saucepan where you can see the colour clearly.  Have your 60 grams of cream measured and standing by.

Place the saucepan over a low to medium heat.  Using a heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon, keep the sugar moving a little over the base of the saucepan so that it doesn’t stick or burn as it melts.  This will help it to melt evenly.  Don’t stir it around vigorously.  Just gently keep it moving until the sugar is completely melted.  Keep an eye on it as the sugar starts to caramelise and darken, stirring it from time to time to keep the colour even as it darkens.  You actually want it to be quite dark.  A lovely deep caramel colour is what you are aiming for, not a light golden hue.  The latter is great when making praline but we are looking for a really intense caramel flavour.  Once the caramel begins to colour, it will darken very quickly.  Be extremely careful not to touch it with your fingers.  You know the drill – caramel and sugar syrups are HOT and will BURN you badly.  So resist the urge to dip.

Once the caramel has reached a lovely deep amber colour, remove it from the heat and gently stir in the cream.  Add the cream gradually to avoid the hot caramel from splashing.  Once added, stir it well.  You can use a whisk to do this or a spatula.  Whisk in the sea salt and the butter.  When it is thoroughly combined, smooth and creamy, set it aside to cool completely while you make the gelato.

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low to medium heat.  Let the sugar dissolve and bring to the boil.  Do not stir.  Place the egg yolks in a bowl nearby.  When the syrup has begun to boil watch it carefully.  Insert the candy thermometer in the syrup and wait until it reaches 115℃.   Beat the egg yolks until light and keep beating as you pour the syrup into the egg yolks in a thin and steady stream.  Beat the yolk and syrup mixture until light and doubled and it has the consistency to form a ribbon.  The bowl should be cool to touch by the time you are finished.

Using a hand-held whisk, gently whisk the cream and vanilla until it forms soft peaks.  Add the salted caramel mixture, and fold in until smooth and lightly thickened.  Fold in the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated.

Pour the gelato into an airtight container.  Place in the freezer to set.  It’s best to make the gelato at least 6 hours ahead or the day before.  It will keep for several days in the freezer, if you have leftovers.

I like to decorate it with a little salted caramel praline just because it looks pretty.  Enjoy!