Whenever I’m tasked with planning a menu, I always look for recipes that make sense in the larger context of the meal. I want flavors that complement each other, first and foremost, but they also have to be practical to prepare and seasonally appropriate. I also try to contrast the heaviness and lightness of foods because I want people to feel good, mentally but also physically. I wouldn’t serve fried chicken and macaroni and cheese (a birthday favorite) for the main course and then top it all off with a warm fruit cobbler with ice cream. That is an automatic “I’m unbuttoning my top bottom and need to lie down immediately” combo. I think a great meal should leave everyone feeling full, but still comfortable.
This is my main issue with dessert. I almost never order it at restaurants as I average about half a loaf of bread per outing. I don’t even know how this happens. Even if a restaurant doesn’t serve bread I feel like I manage to break a new carb consumption record every time. Not really interested in your chocolate lava cake, thank you very much. Unless you’d like to take me to the emergency room, the dessert tray doesn’t really make sense.
This tart, however, makes perfect sense to me. There are so many reasons it’s good that I have to resort to a numerical list. Here goes:
- Pertaining to my rant above, it is decadent but not over the top. The tart pan format creates neat little slices only about an inch high- the perfect size after a meal.
- After dinner coffee solved. You get the espresso buzz you need to fight the post feast drowsiness without having to sip hot coffee in the summertime.
- It can be made ahead. Days ahead, if you wish. The entire tart and ice cream can be assembled and wrapped in the freezer and all you have to do before serving is whip some cream and pipe (or pile) it on top. It’s the easiest showstopper I can think of.
- It’s completely no bake. No oven, no cry.
- Maybe I shouldn’t have left it to the last point….it tastes sublime.
Mocha Ice Cream Tart
Prepare Ina Garten’s Espresso Ice Cream in an ice cream maker. I omit the chopped chocolate covered espresso beans in the ice cream, but I like to use them for garnishing the tart at the end. Or, in true Ina spirit, store bought is fine.
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups crushed Oreo cookies, creme centers removed
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/4 cup sugar
Mix together crushed cookies, butter and sugar until fully combined and the texture of wet sand (I do this in a food processor). Place mixture in a 9-inch tart pan (or pie plate) and use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to firmly press crumbs into the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before filling with ice cream.
Make sure that the ice cream is soft. (If it’s straight from the ice cream maker, it’s a perfect consistency. If the ice cream is straight from the freezer, you will need to leave it on the counter to soften a bit.) Scoop the ice cream into the tart/pie plate and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
If you plan to eat it right away, simply take the tart out of the freezer, and proceed with the whipped cream and garnish. If you plan to serve it at a later time (it keeps well in the freezer for several days), place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream to protect from freezer burn.
Kahlua Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kahlua Liquer
Whip together cream, sugar and Kahlua on high speed until firm. Use a piping bag to make a design around the edge of the tart, then top with chocolate covered espresso beans. You could also spoon the cream high onto the center of the tart and top with chopped chocolate covered espresso beans.