Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Superstar Bar - Small Beginnings

A food blog! Yes! Because the internet is clamoring for one more of those! I have been asked many times how I do what I do (especially for this first dish) so I'm going to try sharing it all this way. In the event that I actually commit to this I will do my best to keep future posts as creative as this first one and improve my process of documenting the work to show a lot more detail than two poor quality pictures of the final product. So bear with this first slipshod post and remember that big things can have small beginnings.

Four weeks ago I made a promise. I would revive a dessert extinct for over a decade. A callback to childhood days of chasing the ice cream man and hoping against hope that you get The Undertaker. I'm talking about the best frozen treat there is, was, and ever will be; The WWE Superstar Bar.

Easy enough right? Just go buy some ice cream, some cookies, and some chocolate and slap it all together. Uh-uh brother. These had to be as home and hand made as everything else I do. Each component also had to be good enough to stand on its own. So after about four gallons of ice cream and more cookies than I can remember here are the results:

The recipes are in the order they should be performed on this schedule to yield 4 bars;
Day 1-custard, Day 2-freeze ice cream & bake cookies, Day 3-assembly w/ chocolate

Before I begin I must give credit where it's due:
The ice cream and cookies were inspired by Thomas Keller and modified by me to fit my purposes.
I created multi-layered stencils from art found at

Special Equipment:
Metric kitchen scale
Kitchen Aid stand mixer & Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl add-on or any ice cream maker
Tamis/Drum Sieve
Chinois/Cone Strainer
Approximately 5" x 3" oval shaped metal cookie cutter
Silpat silicone baking mats
Americolor Gourmet Writer Pens
Wooden popsicle sticks ~5" long
Thermapen or an accurate candy thermometer with a very sensitive tip

French Vanilla Ice Cream:
2 Cups whole milk
2 Cups heavy cream
1/2 Cup + 6 Tbsp sugar - divided in those increments
1.5 Tbsp vanilla paste
150g egg yolks
pinch of kosher salt
Mix cream, milk, 1/2C sugar, and vanilla in medium saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar, over medium heat to just below a simmer; a skin will form, steam will rise, and the liquid will just begin to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat to steep uncovered.
Separate eggs and whisk the yolks with 6Tbsp sugar in a large heat resistant bowl until slightly thickened (the whisk will leave a trail). Return the milk mix to the stove, heat at medium until a good amount of steam rises, stirring constantly. Pour the liquid into a spouted container. Here's where it can all go wrong in an instant. VERY slowly (almost a trickle) add the hot liquid to the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the yolks. Going too quickly will curdle the eggs and the mixture will be inedible Once all the liquid is in strain the mixture into a clean saucepan. Have a two bowl ice bath ready at this point. Cook the egg-milk mixture gently over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly with a wooden spoon, until steam rises and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon (you'll know when you can run a finger down it and leave a very clean, crisp trail). Strain the custard through the chinois directly into the ice bath, stir in a pinch of salt, cool until luke warm. Chill the mixture at least 12 but no longer than 24 hours. This allows the flavors to develop. The cream is also known as creme Anglaise and is delicious spooned warm or chilled over fresh berries and pastries.

Process the custard in an ice cream machine, spread the soft serve in a pan lined heavily and evenly with plastic wrap - enough to wrap it all up - into a 1" thick "brick." Wrap it all up and gently press the plastic onto the ice cream to even it all out. Freeze 24 hours.

Shortbread Cookies:
180g unsalted butter, 1 Tbsp chunks - room temp
90g sugar
2g kosher salt
7-8g vanilla paste (tricky to find - Sur la Table and gourmet stores stock it)
270g all-purpose flour
Cream butter in stand mixer on medium w/ paddle until smooth, mix in sugar and salt to combine. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, mix in vanilla on low/stir. Add flour in 2 batches, mixing each to combine on low, scrape shaggy dough around bowl and onto clean surface. Bring together by hand into approx 5" square, wrap in plastic, chill about 10-15 minutes to firm. Pound and roll 1/4" thick, cut out cookies, bake at 350 until very light golden brown. Cool on racks. Once cooled decorate with stencils and pens. Keep in an airtight container.

Remove the ice cream sheet, unwrap it, and cut out the filling using the same cutter from the cookies. Place these on the back of the cookies, pressing gently with a flat surface, then gently insert a stick into the ice cream being careful not to break the ice cream. Freeze on parchment (prevents ink seeping off) at least 12 hours.

Tempered Chocolate:
230g 60-65% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat 2/3 of the chocolate in a double boiler to 131-136F (melting). Remove from heat, add remaining chocolate and submerge it, wait. After a few minutes stir to melt all chocolate. Rest until 82-84F (crystal) then reheat to 88-90F (working). Spread a thin layer on the back of each bar. Work quickly it will freeze almost instantly. Freeze the completed bars at least 3 hours before serving.

Overall these are not difficult to make. They do however require lots of planning, preparation, and time. It's a great project to improve some key skills, especially fine temperature management, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to become a better cook.

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