You Can’t Take the Nebraska Out Of The Girl

An Ingredient Near & Dear To My Heart, Part Deux
A Food 52 Challenge
August 2011

I was born in a small town, founded by the Swedes, called Gothenburg, Nebraska.  The state of Nebraska, as you might recall, is “The Cornhusker State,” and despite moving at a young age, I have always had a healthy appreciation for golden kernels spiraling around a cob.  I even devoted the better part of a semester of architecture school studying corn as a set of systems, structures and rules.  I came to be known as “the corn girl” for quite some time.

Later in that same architecture stint, I made my way to Argentina for study abroad and general self-discovery.  I would frequent a little organic grocer in my neighborhood, and I bought my fair share of the national cookie:  the alfajorAlfajores are two corn flour based cookies sandwiched around the other national treasure- dulce de leche.  Using my Nebraskan roots and my world wanderings for inspiration, I kicked up the corn content of the average alfajor, and thus I present “Alphacornes Ice Cream Sammiches”

As I mentioned, I concocted this corn creation as part of a Food 52 recipe challenge.  I had just found the site and the contest, so my time was crunched.  The following presents my full blown intention, and it was quite the endeavor!

Corn Cookie + Dulce de Leche + Corn-Infused, Crème Fraiche Ice Cream
(in one summer sammich treat!)

Part One:  Dulce de Leche

Ingredients

28 ounces (2 cans) organic sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of sea salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

Pour the two cans of organic sweetened condensed milk a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish.

Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.

Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.

Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil or a lid if you have one and bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

(Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).

Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool.

Once cool, whisk until smooth.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

Part Two:  Alfajores de Maizena

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups whole-wheat pastry
2 ½ cups organic whole grain corn flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar in the raw
3 egg yolks (local/free-range)
1 Tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons organic lemon extract
1 ear of local corn, kernels removed and chopped
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions

Combine the whole-wheat flour, corn flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Cream the butter with the sugar.

Add the egg yolks, the vanilla extract, the whiskey, the lemon extract and the crushed corn.

(note the grains on that bottle of whiskey!)

Add this cream to the dry ingredients making a hole in the middle of the flour and making a crumbly dough using a spoon.

When you see that the dough is cohesive enough, make a ball with your hands pressing the different pieces together.

Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30-60 minutes (30 is usually enough if you are in a hurry).

Roll out the dough carefully flouring the counter until it gets around 1/4 inch thick.

Cut with a round cutter, and repeat joining the scraps again and again until you´ve used all the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Place on a stone baking sheet and bake for around 15 minutes, checking frequently. The dough should not be golden, it can appear undone.

Remove quickly to avoid burning and place on a rack to cool.

Part Three:  Crème Fraiche, Corn-Infused Ice Cream

Crème Fraiche Ingredients

2 c heavy cream
2 T buttermilk

Directions

Place heavy cream in a bowl or large jar.

Add the buttermilk, which will act as the culture.

Partially cover the jar or bowl and let it sit at room temperature until mixture has thickened to approximately the consistency of yogurt.

Depending on the temperature of my house, it takes between 12 and 48 hours to thicken properly.”

When it’s ready, give it another good (but gentle) stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least a day before using.

Crème Fraiche Corn-Infused Ice Cream

Ingredients

1¼ c whole milk
2½ c heavy cream
3 ears of local sweet corn, husked
½ t salt
1 c local honey
7 egg yolks
1 c crème fraîche
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Fresh squeezed juice from one lemon

Directions

Cut kernels from corn cobs, reserve cobs.

Break each cob into 2-3 pieces.

Whisk milk and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan with the salt, half the honey, the corn kernels and cobs.

Let steep overnight.

Whisk egg yolks in another bowl with remaining sugar.

Turn the heat to medium-low and bring cream mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently.

Ladle a quarter cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and beat thoroughly, then pour the egg mixture into the cream mixture.

Switch to a spatula and run it along the bottom of the pan constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

When cooled, whisk in the crème fraîche and vanilla. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Whisk in the lemon juice and freeze per your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Final Assembly

Did you ever imagine this moment would come?

I was beginning to have my doubts, but at last, my mega corn dreams became a reality,

and then they became dessert!

Mouth full…sticky fingers…can’t type.

Fin.

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