Desserts From My Spring Dinner

I know, I know, you guys could all take or leave the dinner. What you really want to hear about are the desserts. I don't blame you. Everyone knows that's the best part of the meal!

Before my family came up to visit, I emailed my mom and sent my sister a Facebook message asking them their favorite kind of cake and their favorite flavor of ice cream. My mom emailed me a ton of great ideas while my sister wrote back: "Mint chip, chocolate cake, confetti frosting ( the Betty crocker kind :) )." Turns out she meant rainbow chip rather than confetti, and she had to know I would only go grab a canister of frosting as a last resort. Lucky for me, King Arthur Flour sells rainbow chips! (Although I can't find them on the site anymore...)

At first I considered stirring them into the frosting and trying to trick her, but then I let that go and decided to just adorn the tops of the cupcakes with the rainbow chips. I thought they would look nicer that way.

And though she requested mint chip and I had already looked up a few recipes for it, I remembered that she also loves hazelnut gelato and decided to make that instead when I saw David Lebovitz's gianduja straciatella gelato (which basically means hazelnut ice cream with streaks of chocolate) in The Perfect Scoop.

So the girl got Thomas Keller's chocolate cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla frosting and chocolate flakes and rainbow chips and David Lebovitz's gianduja straciatella gelato. So not spoiled!

And don't think I forgot about my mom. I read through her list of ideas and decided to make coffee ice cream with chocolate coffee chunks and a New York-style crumb coffee cake. In my family, we're pretty much in agreement that there should be more crumb than cake. I saw a recipe in a recent issue of Bon Appetit that sounded good to me, but I checked a few other sources just in case. I had just purchased Baking Illustrated, and since Cook's Illustrated rarely steers me wrong, I thought I might find a good crumb coffee cake recipe in there. I glanced through the headnote, and as soon as I read "achingly sweet crumb topping -- and too much of it," I closed the book. This would be one of those rare times I could not trust Cook's Illustrated. The rest of the world knows there's no such thing as too much crumb topping, right?

So I went with the Bon Appetit recipe, which you can find here. Unfortunately, I somehow did not really get any pictures of the cake, but I will tell you that it baked up incredibly moist with an appropriate crumb-to-cake ratio. I'm even thinking of making an extra batch of crumb next time and putting some in the middle of the cake too. It was that good.

And the coffee ice cream was just amazing. We're talking about a coffee ice cream that actually tastes like real coffee -- you steep coffee beans in milk and cream and use the coffee-flavored mixture for the ice cream. We all really enjoyed it, and I found some delicious chocolate coffee chunks on the King Arthur Flour Web site that were the perfect mix-in.

I also made some whipped cream and hot fudge, set out strawberries (which my dad explained I could hull with the end of a peeler for minimal waste -- I left that job to him!), pineapple, bananas, sprinkles, and nuts, so everyone could make sundaes if they wanted or just mix and match cake, fruit, and ice cream.

The best compliment I received that day was from my little brother. He tasted some of the ice cream, and then asked, "Megan, did you make this?" I said yes and waited for a not-so-nice comment, which I'm used to getting from him, since he's in a my-oldest-sister-is-so-not-cool phase.

The whole room went dead silent with shock when he said, "Good job." That's how you know how good the ice cream was.

We ended the day with my favorite game: Apples to Apples.

I'm going to try to get those ice cream recipes up soon. I'm so behind on posts! I guess that's what working 72 hours a week will do to you! But the way I think of it is that while there may not always be time to post, no matter how much you work or how busy you are, there's always time to cook and bake -- especially for the people you love. So even when you don't hear from me, don't think there's not a ton of cooking and baking going on here!

If someone offered to make them for you, what would be your ideal birthday cake and favorite ice cream flavor?