The holiday season is a wrap and the dust of 2021 has settled. Perhaps you are back to a work grind, or find yourself buried in winter snow. Or maybe you're sad that your family has left, or maybe elated that your family has left. As great as it was, maybe you are relieved to be past it all. Just because holiday treats are in the rear-view mirror doesn't mean you don't deserve a special little zero-effort dessert. Maybe you need a quiet post-holiday celebration. Maybe you need a nutty Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae.
If this Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae were an actor in a musical, it would make its quiet sultry entrance stage right, while the whole noisy chorus of holiday desserts shuffle-flapped off, stage left. The Sundae (let us call her Sundae) would glide across the stage to a stool waiting under a soft bath of light. Sundae, dressed in a slim black turtleneck and tailored trousers, would lightly park on the stool, one long leg outstretched. Slowly she would look up and raise the mic.
While the holiday dessert chorus is in the back peeling off sparkly garish costumes and wiping off melted greasepaint, Sundae begins her ballad. One part Louis Armstrong, one part Norah Jones, equal parts gravel and smoke, Sundae's song lifts the corner of your mouth and quiets your spirit.
The intimate moment with Sundae passes, but you are never the same. You'll think of this Sundae at the oddest times for years to come. So it is with this little winter dessert recipe.
½Tbsp.toasted nuts, crushed with the flat of a chef's knifealmonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts, or a mix of what yu like
2scoopsvanilla ice cream
1Tbsp.port, good sherry, or bourbon
2-3 dropsAngostura or black walnut bitters (optional)
1 piececrystallized orange (optional) or a wedge of fresh orange
pinchMaldon or other finishing salt
Finely chop the chocolate and put it in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water.* Stir frequently until the chocolate is about 85% melted, about 3-4 minutes, and remove from the heat. Stir every minute or two to allow the residual heat to finish melting the chocolate. Be cautious about multi-tasking during this step to avoid overheating the chocolate and causing it to seize.
If they aren't already toasted, put the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat and stir frequently until they are aromatic and ever so slightly browned, stirring very frequently, about 3-4 minutes. Be cautious about multi-tasking during this step to avoid burning the nuts. Cool slightly and crush the nuts with the flat side of a chef's knife, or roughly chop.
Scoop the ice cream into a small bowl or cocktails glass. Spoon the warm chocolate over the top, followed by the liquor. Top with the crushed nuts and crystallized orange. Sprinkle with a few drops of bitters and a pinch of crunchy Maldon salt. Serve immediately. Sit back and swoon.
*Alternatively on a convection cooktop, melt the chocolate directly in a small saucepan on a very low setting. On my convection cooktop, chocolate melts beautifully on 1.5.Many kinds of nuts would be perfect here: Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. The very best might even be those from a can of fancy mixed nuts.I'm famous for burning nuts! Don't let that happen to you! Experiment with the liquor and or bitters you chose. There are so many kinds available these days. This is a happy way to end a dinner party, especially if you've knocked yourself out before the dessert comes. It's the easiest show-stopping winter dessert I can imagine.
You’re in the right place! I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.
Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.
Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.
Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.