Weeknight Staple Meets Weekend Treat

November 26, 2007


In my book, weekends call for special treats.  There are certain desserts—pies, cheesecakes, tarts, and the like—that I simply don’t consider making (or eating) throughout the week.  One major exception: ice cream.   

Hands down my favorite food, I love all its flavors (from vanilla to butter pecan to chocolate to pistachio to …) and incarnations (cones, sundaes, DQ Blizzards, straight from the carton).  And because summer in Chicago can be all too brief, I like to live the ice cream season to the fullest.  Not that I see anything wrong with ice cream in February, mind you.


One of the most wonderful, guilt-reducing discoveries I’ve made in the ice cream realm is Haagen Dazs’ line of extra rich light ice cream.  In particular, I’ve fallen head over heels for the coffee flavor.  It’s creamy with a strong coffee flavor and, did I mention that it’s “light”? 

Pints of this stuff often crowd our freezer and it makes a great (occasional) weeknight treat.  But, on the weekend, like I said, it’s time for special treats.  Recently, I stumbled across a Bon Appetit recipe on Epicurious.com that promised to marry my weeknight favorite with a weekend-worthy dessert: Coffee-Toffee Ice Cream Tart.  And, it was a great excuse to use another as-yet-unused wedding gift: our new tart pan. 


This tart is very, very good.  However, I have a couple quibbles.  After searching the shelves of several grocery stores for chocolate wafers without luck, I gave up and bought Oreos.  My sous chef was happy to twist them apart and scrape the filling from them.  Almost as delighted as he was to bash them into crumbs, once the de-sandwiching was done.  Also, I neglected to read the Epicurious comments until I was already home from the grocery store.  Had I read the multiple suggestions to double the amount of crumbled toffee, I would have happily followed the advice.  As I made it (according to the recipe exactly), the toffee flavor was not all that pronounced.  Finally, I’m really, really glad I read the recipe thoroughly ahead of time.  The multiple freezing stages definitely call for some advance planning. 

Despite these minor stumbles, the end result was scrumptious.  The hint of cinnamon in the crust really lends a depth of flavor.  And the white chocolate topping (about which, I must admit, I was a bit hesitant at first) was a wonderful addition—both in terms of taste and elegant presentation.  Oh, and I used my favorite Haagen Dazs light coffee ice cream for the filling.  Does that mean I can enjoy a leftover slice on a weeknight?!?


Coffee-Toffee Ice Cream Tart 
Bon Appetit 

For crust and filling
1 1/2 cups finely ground or crushed chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 7 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup coarsely chopped chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Skor or Heath; about 4 ounces)
1 1/2 pints coffee ice cream, slightly softened

For topping
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make crust and filling:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Mix cookie crumbs and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake until crust is set, about 9 minutes. Cool completely.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped toffee over cooled crust.Spread ice cream evenly in crust. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make topping:
Combine cream and butter in medium saucepan.
Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Mix in vanilla. Let topping stand until cool and slightly thickened but still pourable, about 15 minutes. Pour white chocolate topping over ice cream tart; tilt pan to cover top of tart completely.Freeze until topping is firm, about 1 hour. Sprinkle remaining toffee over. Freeze until tart is firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 5 days ahead. Cover tightly and keep frozen.)

Using small knife, carefully loosen crust from pan sides.  Gently push up tart bottom to release tart and serve.   

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