Zhoosh your summer ice cream game like a pastry chef


If you drop by my house on any given night, you’ll likely find at least one of the following flavors of ice cream in my freezer: mint, pistachio, or chocolate chips. I have yet to hear any complaints from the company when a no frills scoop or two popped up in front of them to finish their meal. But we can all bear to bask the lily once in a while. Georgia Wodder, executive pastry chef at Mel’s, Al Coro and the upcoming Discolo in New York, assures me that candlelight ice cream is possible with a few additions to the pantry — several from the savory shelves, no less.

“My favorite in most aspects of dessert and gelato is to finish with really good olive oil and sea salt,” says Wodder, whose high-end sundaes complement the pizzeria’s nostalgic menu. de Mel’s, which opened in March with Chef Melissa. Rodriguez’s redesign of the old Del Posto. “I think with ice cream it’s about having different components – texture and crunch, and making sure the flavors are balanced.”

Related: This addictive soft serve ice cream only has three ingredients, one of which is optional

At the restaurant, Wodder cascades salted caramel over fior di latte ice cream and tops it with dehydrated crepe caramel and cinnamon butter cookies. She swirls frozen strawberry sorbet chunks and fresh strawberry chunks into vanilla cake frosting, recreating a strawberry shortcake as a sundae. She layers a slice of gooey brownie with a big scoop of mint ice cream and ribbons of chocolate, which she tops in a hard shell made of dark chocolate and finishing olive oil, then sprinkles with brownie crumbs dehydrated.

This shellfish sauce is as easy to make at home as a quick fudge sauce, by the way, and undeniably candler; “Because it’s chocolate and oil, it creates a magic shell situation when it hits cold ice cream,” she says.

Simply break up the darkest chocolate bar you can find (70-80% cocoa) and microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Whisking the chocolate constantly, pour in an equal amount (by weight in ounces) of your best finishing olive oil. Continue whisking until combined, then season with a generous pinch of salt to taste. Just before serving, pour the sauce over the ice cream and marvel at the magic of food science.

Step up your sundae game (Peter Marquez)Wodder’s Brownie Crumble is even simpler, requiring little more than leftover brownies or brownie scraps. Place them on a baking sheet, bake until crispy in a 275 degree oven and break them into crumbs.

On the other hand, where our resident pastry chef can top the ice cream with homemade semolina shortbread cookies (as she does with her rhubarb-ginger mousse), we can easily mimic those buttery and sweet corn flavors by crumbling some store-bought toasted cornbread over berry or dulce de leche ice cream.

“It gives a little buttery bite and textural contrast to the silky ice cream – it’s just interesting,” she says. “You always want to make sure you have enough crunch in there.”

When it comes to fruit mixes and toppings for ice cream – especially as we enter peak berry and stone fruit season, Wodder almost always prefers fresh fruit purées. While frozen fruit gives an icy, chalky texture and compotes or preserves are too sweet, the sweetness of pureed fresh fruit is tempered by the natural acidity – which it will often accentuate with a squeeze of lemon.

Sweet berry sundaes are also a great place to consider a drizzle or two of Wodder’s other favorite salty staple: balsamic vinegar. “I really like it on fior di latte or plain vanilla too,” she adds, “just a touch to tone down the sweetness and add interest.”

think like a banquet chef – lay out your mise en place like crumbles and purees in bowls and pre-slice brownies and cake slabs if you plan to layer them on the bottom. Most importantly, if you’re hosting a crowd and don’t want to serve soup, make the ice cream in advance. Place a plate or tray lined with parchment paper in the freezer for 20 or 30 minutes – “make sure it’s frozen!” — then place the ice cream directly on the parchment (so that it can be easily removed), keeping it frozen until ready to serve.

Wodder likes to place sundaes in smaller bowls for maximum impact; “That way people can also have seconds and not feel bad about it,” she adds.

If at the end of all the crumbling cookies, fancy oil, and dazzling flaky sea salt there’s still something missing, Wodder still has a trick up his sleeve. “I wouldn’t eat ice cream at all without Rainbow Sprinkles,” she says.

Although in this case she has no interest in the candle type. “The cheaper, the more hardback, the better. The beautiful ones are too tough; I like the ones that have been on the shelves for 10 years at ShopRite.”

More from this author:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: