Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waffle Iron Cooking: French Toast

As you may have guessed, I love to eat.  But it is no secret that I don't really "cook".  I was going through a phase where I didn't like going out to eat, which left me with a bit of a problem, as I'm also a total snob and don't generally like takeout.

But I also I hate wasting food.  Whenever I have any leftovers, I stash them in my freezer.  People laugh when they see the size of my freezer, and then their eyes bulge when they see that at all times, it is totally and completely full.  I don't usually have a plan for what I'll do with little bits of this or that.  I just can't ever throw food out.

Random Aside #1: Julie has too much ice cream (yes, this can happen)

A while ago, I won 32 pints of Three Twins Ice Cream.  Yes, this was totally awesome, but it did lead to a bit of a problem: what do you do with that much ice cream, when you live with someone who doesn't really eat ice cream, and you work somewhere with a froyo machine that you visit multiple times a day normally already?  How do you actually consume all that ice cream before it gets freezer burned?

Well, first I methodically made my way through every pint, getting one of each flavor available, learning my favorite flavors.  It was awesome, really.  You can read all about that soon.  But after a while, even I got sick of ice cream.  It can happen.

I started bringing ice cream to every party I was invited to.  Dinner party?  I'd quickly claim dessert, and bring ice cream to go with a fruit crisp.  Housewarming?  New homeowners would find a pint of ice cream hidden in their freezer the next morning.  Brunch?  Ice cream for affogatos is legit, right?  But after a few months of this, I could tell my ice cream welcome was wearing thin.  I had to get creative.

One day, it dawned on me that ice cream is just a frozen custard base.  If I melted the ice cream down, I'd be back to a custard base.  Suddenly, I had so many possibilities.

The next night, when I served pie for dessert, instead of offering ice cream to pair with it, I suggested a little vanilla bean crème anglaise to Ojan.  He never wants ice cream with his pie.  Little did Ojan know that this was my vanilla bean ice cream (which he usually rejects), warmed up.  He eagerly accepted.  Success!

A few days later, I was making a cup of coffee, and it turned out too bitter.  I generally drink my coffee black, but when the coffee isn't very good, I opt for a little creamer and sweetener.  But, since I don't really cook at home, I never have any milk or other creamer.  But I did have ice cream ... A tiny scoop of ice cream, stirred into coffee?  Perfect.  I quickly discovered that chocolate flavors work best here, turning my coffee into a quasi-mocha.

Speaking of the chocolate flavors, one day, I decided to reduce a pint of chocolate ice cream down on the stovetop, turning it into a rich chocolate pudding.  It was thick.  It was rich.  Amazing.  Another success.

My stories go on and on.  Many bread puddings were created (salted caramel flavor works great here!).  Some failed attempts at making flan.  If you ever find yourself in the situation of having an insane amount of ice cream, or if you lose power and your ice cream melts, or if you wind up with a pint of freezer burned ice cream, consider the possibilities.  Melted ice cream is NOT a loss!

Random Aside #2: Waffling

You've been reading about my waffling experiments on Wednesdays for weeks now, so, I won't rehash any of that here.  You know the drill: I have leftovers, I reheat them in the waffle iron, it is usually awesome.

This week however, I bring you something a bit different.  All of my previous waffling posts were about taking leftovers, and placing them basically unmodified into the waffle iron.  I didn't really create anything from scratch.

But this time, I did.  I made french toast, and cooked it in the waffle iron, rather than on a griddle.  But of course, you know me, there has to be a twist.  And the twist?  I used ice cream as the custard base, rather than making my own.  Because, who has eggs?

Random Aside #3: Dave's Killer Bread

Final aside, I promise.  I got sent some Dave's Killer Bread to review for my blog (coming soon).  So, not only did I have tons of ice cream, I also had tons of bread.

Connecting the Dots: French Toast

At all times, in the back of my head, is the thought "will it waffle?"  Also in the back of my head is the knowledge that I have a custard base that can be ready at a moment's notice.  Inspired by the success of the bread puddings made with my ice cream, I decided to tackle another format: french toast.  I knew that the ice cream base wasn't quite as eggy as you'd normally use for french toast, but honestly, I don't like it when I can taste the egg in french toast, so I wasn't too concerned.

Unsatisfied to simply griddle my french toast like a normal person, I busted out the waffle iron.

The Ingredients

Three Twins Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream + Dave's Killer Bread Seeded Honey Wheat.
Per slice:
  • 1 slice of bread (any kind. Fresh or frozen.)
  • 1 small scoop of ice cream
  • Cinnamon (pinch, to taste)
  • Vanilla (few drops, to taste)
  • Any other spices you want
Normally, I'd make french toast using a thick cut, more interesting bread like brioche, but what I had was a freezer full of an assortment Dave's Killer Bread.  I picked the Seeded Honey Wheat, as it was the sweetest of the bunch.

I opted for simple Madagascar Vanilla as my ice cream base, but you can obviously get creative here.

Not pictured were my additions: King Arthur Flour Vietnamese Cinnamon, Bourbon Vanilla, Bourbon Sugar.   Once I melted the ice ceam down, I added cinnamon and more vanilla extract to taste.  (Protip: additional benefit of using ice cream, rather than raw ingredients: you can taste your french toast liquid and not be worried about eating raw eggs!)

Process

  1. Pull ingredients out of freezer/spice rack.
  2. Heat up waffle iron (I used 400 degrees, the recommended temp for waffles, but more on that below).
  3. Melt down ice cream however you want: leave it on the counter. Microwave it. Melt it on a stove top.  I usually just put it in a 300-ish degree toaster oven while I prep other ingredients.
  4. Add cinnamon, vanilla, and any other seasonings to taste.
  5. Dunk bread in melted ice cream mixture.  Let it soak in a few minutes.
  6. Plop into waffle iron, cook for a few minutes.  It will probably take longer than a regular waffle.  Just watch it.

Results

Mixed Success.
On my first attempt, I set the waffle iron to 400 degrees, the temperature recommended for waffles.  After a few minutes, my waffle-french toast seemed hot, and was getting a bit crispy on the edges, but it was way too soggy on the inside.  I might have used too much ice cream base, but it was too late to fix that.  So I turned the heat up.  And sprinkled it with sugar, hoping that would caramelize and crust up a bit.

Instead ... it just started burning.  Whoops.  The places where the iron touched were definitely burnt, but I liked how the waffling created crispy bits and moist bits.  There is potential here.

The bread choice was ok, although fairly healthy tasting.  Yes, I realize I am saying that eating a scoop of ice cream and a bunch of syrup tasted "healthy", but the bread really was hearty and wheaty, so it didn't seem decadent at all.

It was still pretty tasty, and once drizzled with sufficient warm maple syrup, I didn't care too much, but next time I'd try starting with a higher temp, or reduce the amount of ice cream.
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