Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sweet! Summer Treats at the Got Milk Event

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to check out some great Summer Treats recipes from the wonderful, creative people at Got Milk. Trust me, there's more you can do with milk than just put it in your cereal, your cappuccino and in your bath. (I tried that once, but it just seemed too wasteful. I couldn't get the vision of starving children out of my head while I used an entire cup of milk just to soften my elbows.)

This event was hands-on, and we were paired up at these nifty cooking stations. My partner was my friend Amy Anderson, which was convenient since we also carpooled that day and we were able to take turns running out to feed the meter while one of us tended the stove.

(We make a good team and I imagine if we were to do this at home one of us would be able to drink wine while the other one cooked. Oh who am I kidding – we would both just drink wine and then order takeout.)

As usual, the lovely people at Got Milk had all sorts of surprises in store for us. First off, a cooking lesson with Top Chef's Danielle Keene!

Danielle was super nice and laid back, and she taught us how to make an easy Chocolate Pudding Tart, topped with meringue. I learned there are 3 different types of meringue – French, Italian and Swiss. Ours was Swiss, that is made by beating an egg whites and sugar mixture that has been heated in a double boiler. Danielle had Amy and I use the electric mixer on ours. Somehow it didn't get as fluffy as it should have, and then the blade flew out of the mixer and into our bowl. I'm pretty sure that never happens on Top Chef.

Still, our little dessert cups came out beautifully, and I even got to use a kitchen torch for the first time. I really want to get one now so I burn a bunch of stuff in my own kitchen!

Next up, we were introduced to an amazing thing called gelatin art. Gelatin artist Michelle Quiles showed us how to use a hypodermic needle to inject colored gel into a clear gelatin to make flowers. (She called these a 'real Jell-O shot.' Hee.)

A milk-based gelatin is then poured over the mold to act as a background, and then when the whole thing is turned out you get this unbelievably beautiful work of art.

Mine was a little less impressive, although you have to admit it wasn't bad for my first try. Also let me say I would make a horrible nurse since pushing the needle into the blob of gelatin was pretty unsettling. I kept wanting to put a band-aid on it and give it a toy.

As usual, the Got Milk people fed us well. VERY well. Check out this spread – I ate a ton, even though I was chock full of Pudding Tart:

It seems almost sinful, but after eating all this food then we got to attack this beautiful dessert table that looked too good to be real. I had a Coffee Banana Malt Ball Milkshake that was pure bliss. Can you think of a better combo than a milkshake with Whoppers? I can't.

I'm including a couple of the recipes here, because they are so easy and delicious that it would be a crime if you didn't try them yourself. Also just a reminder to stock up on milk for the summer – but don't take a bath in it because that is just plane wasteful. Your elbows look just fine the way they are.

Chocolate Pudding Tart with Swiss Meringue
Serves 8

Pudding Ingredients:
2 ½ cups whole milk
2 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut in small pieces
2 tbsp. butter

In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of milk to a simmer.  In a separate bowl, whisk cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, egg and yolks with remaining ½ cup milk.  Temper hot milk into egg mixture. Return to heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat, and continue to simmer for 2 minutes, until custard thickens.  Add chocolate and butter, whisk until smooth.  Strain and chill for 3 hours. 

Cookie Crust Ingredients:
1 ½ cups finely ground cookie crumbs
2 tbsp. sugar
2 oz. melted butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 10 minutes until set. Cool completely. Fill with chilled pudding and top with Swiss meringue.

Swiss Meringue Ingredients:

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar

In a double boiler (large bowl sitting atop a simmering pot of water), whisk egg whites and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.  Remove from heat and whip with an electric mixture until cooled and peaks begin to form.  Spread on top of pie.  Torch meringue peaks, if desired.

Coffee Banana Malt Ball Milkshake
Serves 4

1 pint premium-quality coffee ice cream
1 cup milk
1 ripe banana, sliced
¼ cup malt balls
Whipped cream
Chocolate sauce (optional)

Combine ice cream, milk, bananas and malt balls in a blender until smooth.  In a tall glass, top the milkshake with whipped cream, malt balls and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  
Optional:  Before pouring milkshake, line glass with chocolate sauce for added touch.

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