Adding a scoop of ice cream is one of the kindest things you can do to a dessert.
Frozen-treat gurus Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough have a new book out dedicated to the art of topping with all manner of sweet, icy goodies — sorbets, custards, gelatos and more. With masterful pairings for your favorite pastries, À La Mode challenges the home cook to discern the main event from its accoutrement.
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- At least 3 tablespoons very cold water, as needed
For the filling
- 1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups salted, shelled peanuts
Popcorn frozen custard
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 cups crushed air-popped popcorn
- 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the custard
Heat the cream and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until puffs of steam rise off its surface. Stir in the popcorn, cover, and set aside off the heat for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a ﬁne-mesh sieve or a standard colander lined with cheesecloth. Using a rubber spatula, press gently against the popcorn to extract the last drips of liquid. Discard the solids.
Pour the liquid into a clean, large saucepan. Set it over medium heat and again heat it until those puffs of steam appear. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale yellow, and thick ribbons slide off the turned-off beaters, about 4 minutes.
Beat about half the cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth, then beat this combined mixture into the remaining cream mixture in the pan until smooth. Set over low heat, add the salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon and the temperature registers 170°F, 4 to 7 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a ﬁne-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day, covering the custard once it’s chilled.
Prepare an ice-cream machine. Stir the cold custard and freeze it in the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until the ice cream can mound on a spoon without immediately melting at its edges. Store in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
For the tart crust
Mix the ﬂour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut it into the mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until it all resembles dry, coarse sand.
Stir in 3 tablespoons of cold water with a fork, then more water, ½ tablespoon at a time, until a soft, not-sticky dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball, dust it with ﬂour, and roll it into an 11-inch circle. Center and set the crust into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough to conform to the pan, even the ﬂuting at the edges. Repeatedly prick the bottom of the crust and its sides with the tines of a fork, then line the pan with aluminum foil without pressing down onto the crust.
Set the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the tart pan to a wire baking rack.
For the tart filling
Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
Stir the sugar and water in a large saucepan set over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook without stirring until the mixture turns a dark amber color, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat until puffs of steam come up off its surface.
Whisk the warmed cream into the amber syrup. Take care: It will roil up the sides of the pan. Whisk carefully but determinedly. Once smooth, whisk in the butter, molasses, and vanilla extract. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanuts until well coated. Pour the ﬁlling into the still-warm crust.
Bake the tart until bubbling all over its surface, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tart to a wire rack and cool for at least 2 hours or to room temperature before slicing into wedges to serve. Store tightly sealed in plastic wrap on the countertop for up to 2 days.