vanilla ice cream with maple syrup

August 21, 2008


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If you have never enjoyed this combination, stop what you are doing and buy yourself a pint of high quality vanilla and a bottle of 100% pure maple syrup. I almost lumped this post in as the dessert to accompany the swordfish with pesto menu, but then good sense kicked in. This combination, simple as it seems, deserves an homage all its own. I' ve often used vanilla as an insult to describe things that are boring: ie, “That guy [with nothing to say] was mighty vanilla.”But where maple syrup is concerned, vanilla is nothing short of magnificent—if you get a rich enough batch. There' s nothing like gently scrapping a spoon along the melting convex edge of a scoop, where the boarder of liquid cream meets an amber moat of maple syrup. It' s a ritual bound in time. The ice cream melts it mixes with the syrup at the edges of the bowl and has to be eaten just so: slightly melted, with a bit of solid, collected by scraping the spoon slightly up the scoop. This ensures a nice combination of syrup with runny cream and a bit of still-iced cream. It' s important to get a variety of textures while eating this dish: ice cream that is too cold won' t hold or mix with the syrup properly. Plus you can' t taste cold ice cream as well—the flavor really comes out as it softens a bit, hence the Italian' s brilliantly soft gelato. You can amp up the consistency by adding something crunchy on the side. I split a jumbo peanut butter cookie (from March Farms) and placed half in each ice cream bowl after pouring the syrup over the vanilla. This dessert is appropriate any time of year: everybody loves ice cream in the summer, and who doesn' t look for an excuse to eat maple syrup all fall and winter long? It' s only failing: runny syrup cannot be sustained on a cone. Perhaps I will create a vanilla ice cream with maple sugar chunks. Hmm.

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