Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl

Well folks we’ve yet again reached the last week of National Ice Cream Month. So far we’ve played with whiskey, chili peppers, and mint, and this week we venture further off the beaten path with some thoroughly nontraditional ice cream flavors.

If you’re even a vaguely consistent reader, you’ll be well aware of my love affairs with goat cheese and Olivelle products. I use both liberally in my salads, scrambles, and various entrees, sneaking them in whenever possible. M and I go through copious amounts of chévre, so fingers crossed Costco never stops carrying it. The Kirkland brand goat cheese is not only delicious but also extremely affordable. If you have a Costco nearby, definitely give it a try.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}For this week, the pièce de résistance if you will, I combined several of my favorite savory items into a brand new dessert adventure. This is one of those thoughts I had where I wasn’t sure if the end result would be spectacular or just strange. Fortunately for me, and subsequently all of you, spectacular was the general consensus.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Step one: blackberry. Starting with a tried-and-true recipe from my trusty ice cream cookbook, I borrowed the blackberry sauce from a recipe by Molly Moon. It’s just a typical blackberry compote but I trusted her to know how much of everything to use. I liked that she suggested straining out only half the pulp, which leaves the lovely texture without overwhelming you with seeds.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Step two: chévre ice cream. Inspired by the delicious blueberry cheesecake ice cream from a couple of years ago, goat cheese ice cream seemed like the obvious 2018 twist. The recipes online varied greatly in the amount used, but I took a gamble on throwing a full eight ounces in the batch and was duly rewarded.

Combined into one delightful concoction, the tart but sweet blackberries blend perfectly with the tangy goat cheese. Somehow neither flavor overpowers the other but instead becomes one glorious experience: creamy, fruity, and tangy in every mouthful.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}The last addition was a bit of risk, honestly, but oh so worth it. Olivelle carries several dessert vinegars, the chocolate balsamic being one of my favorites. I often drizzle it over a sliced banana or vanilla ice cream for dessert, and it’s also a delightful addition to brownies or chocolate cake. With the idea that it would be a slightly more sophisticated mix-in than standard chocolate sauce, I decided to give it a chance.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Although M didn’t completely agree1, my other taste testers thought it was one of the most phenomenal ice creams they’ve ever had, and I think it’s easily one of the top five flavors I’ve ever made (not that I’m biased.) The blackberry goat cheese ice cream is truly fantastic on its own, but the balsamic addition adds a depth of flavor and a hint of chocolate without overwhelming anything else.

A swirl or a drizzle (or both) of balsamic vinegar takes this ice cream up several levels in both uniqueness and amazingness, and if you’re feeling a bit adventurous I truly hope you give it a try! It’s admittedly a bit more time-consuming with the various steps, and you might have to wait for an order of chocolate balsamic vinegar to arrive (although definitely check if any of your local stores are a sister of Olivelle – they are all over the nation), but I promise it is oh so worth it.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you enjoyed the serious and found at least one new flavor to add to your repertoire. If you give one a try, be sure and share how it went!

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl

Adapted from Molly Moon‘s Blackberry Sage Ice Cream
Makes 6+ cups

Ingredients

Blackberry Sauce
12 oz blackberries (about 3 cups)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar2

8 oz chévre (goat cheese)3

1 recipe blackberry sauce (above)
1/2 cup egg substitute

1/4 – 1/2 cup Olivelle chocolate balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the blackberries, 1 cup sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly. Mash the berries and bring to a light boil. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the berry pulp to retrieve as much of the juice as possible. Scoop about half of the pulp back into the juice, and stir to combine. (The remaining pulp can be tossed, but it is delicious stirred into plain Greek yogurt! Keeps well in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.)
  4. Chill the blackberry sauce completely, or until ready to use.
  5. Place the goat cheese  in medium a heatproof bowl.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, half and half, and remaining sugar to a light simmer.
  7. When the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the mixture over the goat cheese and whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth – it will be somewhat thick.
  8. Chill the cream mixture completely, or until ready to use. Place a lidded freezer-safe bowl in the freezer to chill.
  9. When everything is completely chilled, whisk the blackberry sauce and 1/2 cup egg substitute into the cream – mixture will be fairly thick.
  10. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  11. Retrieve your bowl from the freezer and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons chocolate balsamic vinegar.
  12. Gently add about 1/4 of the ice cream mixture, and drizzle with another 1-2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Repeat with remaining ice cream (you may not use all the vinegar).
  13. Return to the freezer until completely firm, or overnight.
  14. Serve solo, with a fudgy chocolate brownie, or an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Notes

He thought the ice cream itself was “pretty good”, he just didn’t care for the vinegar aspect. He suggested regular chocolate sauce, which is definitely an option you can utilize too.

I used a half cup, but I think with all the mix-ins 1/3 cup or even 1/4 cup might be plenty, and I intend to reduce it next time. Adjust according to how sweet you like your ice cream and how much you love goat cheese. Alternatively, I think honey would make a great substitute here!

If you are not a huge goat cheese lover, you can reduce this amount to six or even four ounces, but I personally loved the tanginess of having all eight ounces in there. Anti-chévre completely? Feel free to sub cream cheese for a more cheesecake like experience.

If you are skeptical but typically like balsamic vinegars, I highly encourage you to try it! Error on the side of too little; you can always drizzle more on top later. If you think this is the grossest sounding thing you have ever heard, either you’ve never tasted Olivelle’s balsamic vinegars or you just aren’t a vinegar person. It’s okay, we can still be friends. Feel free to substitute regular chocolate sauce instead (as M suggested), but know that the vinegar adds a truly unique flavor that will definitely be lost.

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Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

I’ve written about my favorite Italian restaurant in Bozeman, Fresco Cafe, as the inspiration for one of my grilled cheese concoctions from April. This is probably the place I go to with the most regularity, both for team lunches with work and with out-of-town visitors. It has delicious pastas and paninis, several delightful salads, and the specials are always on point. Although a semi-expensive place to dine, it is worth every single dollar to have amazing food and service every time. (As an aside, it’s also one of the few places that serves plain water rather than ice water, which is always worth a lot of points in my book.)

A couple of weeks ago during team lunch, the special salad was basically the combination of all my favorite things: bacon, bell peppers, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. Served atop a bed of mixed spinach and arugula, it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had, in addition to being the perfect size for lunch. I expressed my ecstatic review, as well as requested they put it on the regular menu, which is something I’ve never actually bothered to do at a restaurant before. Since they haven’t heeded my advice yet, I set out to recreate a similar experience in my own kitchen.

It might sound plain and possibly too light, but with a slice of bread and a latte (I always get a latte at Fresco) it was properly filling without leaving me feeling overstuffed and heavy for the rest of the afternoon. Roasted red peppers are something I could eat with every meal, and you’ve probably already noticed I have a slight obsession with goat cheese (blame Costco.) Bacon and walnuts bring a little salt and a lot of protein to the dish, and a bed of leafy greens rounds out the meal nicely.

The original uses their house-made balsamic vinaigrette, but I opted to dress mine with plain balsamic vinegar from my local oil and vinegar spot. This was mostly out of laziness but also because it’s one of my favorite ways to top any savory salad. In any case, you can substitute your favorite balsamic vinaigrette or reduction in its place for a more traditional pairing.

I served mine with the bacon and peppers still warm (which will be extra great in the winter), but you could absolutely let them cool to room temperature during these excessive heatwaves everyone is having. I made myself all four servings and then each day assembled the leftovers for lunches this week. If you do the same, you could either serve it all cold or briefly reheat the bacon and peppers in the microwave before stirring it all together, as I’ve done for the past three days. Goes perfectly with a side of focaccia fresh from the Co-op.

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

Inspired by Fresco Cafe
Serves 4

Ingredients

8 slices bacon
2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 cup walnuts, halved

~8 cups fresh spinach & arugula (10-12 oz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or your favorite vinaigrette or reduction)

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed cookie sheet (or two quarter sheets, if you have them) with foil. If you’re using one sheet, create an edge of foil in the middle of the pan.
  2. Arrange bacon in one half of the pan; lightly coat the other half with olive oil and arrange the peppers on top.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or to desired doneness. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and set aside bell peppers.
  4. Spread walnuts on the bare pan and return to the oven to toast for 3-5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, gently toss greens and balsamic vinegar (or dressing.)
  6. Divide greens into four bowls or plates – don’t scrape the mixing bowl.
  7. Gently toss bell peppers in the large bowl with leftover vinegar/dressing, then arrange on top of the greens.
  8. Slice bacon on an angle into bite-size pieces and arrange in the bowls.
  9. Top each with walnuts, goat cheese, and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Enjoy immediately, optionally garnished with a slice of bread.

Pesto Chicken Grilled Cheese

Omnivores can cheer, this sandwich contains meat! Mildly inspired by my favorite panini at a local Italian restaurant, this recipe is hearty and filling but still a more exciting profile than your traditional cheddar.

I feel like most places with a “gourmet” grilled cheese option just shove about eleven pounds of cheese on there, with maybe the option of bacon and tomato. Although there’s nothing wrong with this method and it can be quite delicious (other than ruining a perfectly good sandwich with mostly raw tomato), I don’t find it particularly new and interesting anymore.

However, pesto and chicken are a match made in heaven and adding cheese to the concoction can only improve it. I chose Gruyère, mainly because I love Gruyere, but any sort of cheddar or pepper jack or whatever have you around would be equally delightful. A smidge of goat cheese adds a wonderful creaminess and a slight tang, but is totally optional if it’s not your thing. For an extra veggie boost I added a layer of fresh baby spinach which complemented everything nicely.

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken (which is what I did) but is definitely worth it to make specifically as well. I picked a striped rye bread I had around which was excellent, but almost anything would be awesome.

Also, tangy cheese and herby pesto are a fantastic combination in themselves, so for a vegetarian option just leave out the chicken (or replace it with roasted bell peppers). I promise it’s excellent both ways.

Pesto Chicken Grilled Cheese
Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp pesto
1 Tbsp goat cheese (optional)
2 oz Gruyère, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded or in thin slices
1/4 cup fresh baby spinach (optional)

2 slices bread
butter or oil

Directions

  1. In a medium pan (big enough to fit both slices side by side) heat a little butter or oil over medium-low.
  2. Spread pesto on one slice of bread. Dollop with goat cheese (if using) and top evenly with chicken. Optionally, add a layer of fresh spinach atop the chicken.
  3. Arrange Gruyère on the other slice and transfer both to the pan.
  4. Place a lid (or a plate, or whatever you have around) over the pan and continue to cook low and slow until the cheeses are melty and warmed through. 
  5. Gently move the Gruyère slice on top of the other and cook an additional 30-60 seconds so the flavors meld.
  6. Remove from pan, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.

Notes

I like this method of grilled cheese preparation because it doesn’t require flipping the whole sandwich, and I think the cheese melts faster, but feel free to use your own preferred method!

Sweet Potato Grilled Cheese

Happy April! Meatless March is over but, psych! Here’s another vegetarian recipe. I actually did not struggle too badly with the no meat thing until the last week, at which point I suddenly had the giantest of cravings for a Canyon Creek burger from Ted’s Montana grill. I still have not satiated this craving, but it’ll just be all the better when I do.

Regardless, in case you are not aware, April is National Grilled Cheese Month! Yep, that’s a thing. ‘Merica. I happen to super love grilled cheese and as such will be employing the theme this month; check for a new flavor every week. Hope you enjoy the series!

First off I went with one of my favorite things, sweet potato. You may have noticed I have a slight obsession so if it’s not your thing just close this tab and come back next week. If it is your thing, however, trust me when I say this is a grand adventure for your mouth. Several weeks ago a friend was making dinner and ran out of the main course (in her defense, I arrived quite late) and offered to make me a grilled cheese. On a whim she threw some cooked sweet potato in with it and on that day began a new era.

In my version I upped the flavor complexity a bit by mashing my sweet potato with goat cheese and a little chipotle, and then layered it with sliced Gruyère. I opted for sourdough bread from a local bakery but I think a seeded multigrain would also be excellent, as well as a fluffy potato bread. Whatever you decide to envelope your cheese delight with, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the outcome.

Creamy sweet potato with the slight tang of goat cheese pairs beautifully with Gruyère, and the chipotle adds a nice little kick. I made mine pretty mild (shocking, I know) but you can definitely play with the ratios to suit your fancy. Step up your grilled cheese game and make yourself a Real Adult Dinner this evening.

But if you want to pair it with chocolate milk, I won’t judge.

Sweet Potato Grilled Cheese
Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

1/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
2 Tbsp goat cheese
1/8 tsp ground chipotle, to taste (or cinnamon!)

2 oz Gruyère cheese, thinly sliced

2 slices bread
butter or oil

Directions

  1. In a medium pan (big enough to fit both slices side by side), heat a little butter or oil over medium-low.
  2. Meanwhile, mash together sweet potato, goat cheese, and chipotle; add more spice if necessary.
  3. Spread sweet potato mixture on one slice of bread, and arrange Gruyère in a single layer on the other.
  4. Place a lid (or a plate, or whatever you have around) over the pan and continue to cook low and slow until the Gruyère is melty and the sweet potato is hot.
  5. Gently transfer one side on top of the other, and cook an additional 30-60 seconds so the flavors meld.
  6. Remove from pan, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.

Notes

I like this method of grilled cheese preparation because it doesn’t require flipping the whole sandwich, and I think the cheese melts faster, but feel free to use your own preferred method!