You'd be forgiven for taking us Australians as a bunch of tightarses. Our favourite biscuit is basically oats stuck together with butter and sugar, our favourite spread is something we need never fear of having to share with others when living overseas, we fry up a few onions, tomatoes and other basic staples and try and pass it off as chicken (albeit with a nomenclatural disclaimer), and one of our most beloved desserts is a way to use up old cake.
Yes, lamingtons. They're an Australian institution, along with the good old fashioned Lamington Drive. At least once a year my primary school would give out a Lamington Drive form to take home and bug (twist the rubber arms of) my parents and extended family members for money to order lamingtons (and apple pies, for some reason) from some mysterious lamington and apple pie factory. We would then send in the form and money and patiently wait for that special delivery day when we would go home from school laden with piles of boxes filled with lashings of lamingtons, happy in the knowledge that our lamington greed was benefiting the P&F Association of the school to do... something... hopefully they weren't using the proceeds to purchase lamingtons for their meetings.
According to Wikipedia, lamingtons are named after Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Lord Lamington later referred to these cakey treats as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits". His other claim to fame is shooting dead a sleeping koala whilst travelling through a proposed national park. Clearly not a fan of woolly things, nor a particularly top bloke.
Unpleasant etymology aside, I echo the sentiments of my brother who, when very young, wrote "lamintons are yum" on one of the blank notes pages in the back of my Mum's CWA Cookery Book. They are yum, even if somewhat difficult to spell, but I have a confession to make -. I really mainly enjoy eating the outside bits and then suffer through eating the inner cake because I don't want to be wasteful. So, when Mr. P of Delicious Delicious Delicious put out a call for any interested parties to take part in an exercise in reinventing the lamington, with the lure of winning a Welsh dragon shaped cookie cutter for your troubles, I saw this as my opportunity to take the dry cake out of the equation and replace it with something much more fitting at this time of year - homemade ice cream.
I will also pounce on any opportunity to Cherry-Ripe-ify any recipe I can. This wasn't too much of a stretch, as lamingtons involve chocolate and coconut, so we just need to add cherries to the mix and we've got some Cherry Ripe action going on. Also, Cherry Ripe is Australia's oldest chocolate bar, so it adds even more Aus to the creation. I can only hope that it wasn't named after the Duke of Cherry Ripe who was known to slaughter bilbies for sport.
So, lamington ice cream is was to be, with some cherries thrown in for good measure. I decided to make a cherry chocolate ice cream, form it into cubes and then coat them in chocolate and coconut. Luckily I didn't put too much thought into the logistics of this prior to getting stuck into the task, otherwise I don't think I would have taken it on.
You see, it is one of life's cruel ironies that it is pretty much impossible to make ice cream in the middle of a Perth heatwave. The day when I absolutely had to make the ice cream was the first of two days over 42 degrees C (108 F) and my poor little ice cream maker just wasn't up to the task. This was also my first attempt at ever making ice cream (thanks Panamahat for my exciting ice cream maker Christmas pressie!), so when my mixture failed to turn into thick, creamy ice cream I was unsure about what to do. The instruction manual informed me "if after 40 minutes the mixture is not yet solid or has thawed again, do not continue" but failed to say what to do apart from not continuing. So, I just stuck the mixture in the freezer, crossed my fingers it would not go too icy, and went to bed. As it turns out, it was a little icy, but you could distract yourself from this with the cherries and chocolate overload of the finished dessert.
Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream
1 1/3 cups full cream milk
2 cups thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
4 egg yolks
Freeze your egg whites for later use or until you run out of freezer space and crayfish take precedence110 g caster sugar
100 g roughly chopped dark chocolate
12 cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
Rest assured this was thoroughly and repeatedly tested for poison
1. Heat the milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan until almost boiling.
2. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined.
3. Whisk the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture until well combined.
4. Return the mixture to a clean saucepan and cook over a low heat, without allowing to boil, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
5. Either fish out the vanilla bean or strain the mixture into a bowl if you have any random chunks of the pod floating around.
6. Allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes until placing the bowl in the fridge to chill for several hours.
7. Place mixture, chocolate and cherries in ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your machine.
After 40 minutes of fighting the good fight against the heat of my kitchen
Once the ice cream had finally solidified, I took it out of the freezer and mushed it up a bit to ensure that the chocolate and cherries were well distributed (they had sunk to the bottom while the ice cream was freezing) and then placed it in a square container so that I would end up with four somewhat cubic shapes. After refreezing it, I cut it into fourths and began the chocolate and coconut coating process. I tend to swear perhaps a little too much at the best of times, and this really stretched my vocabulary. Who'd have thought it would be somewhat of a challenge to coat frozen/melting ice cream in chocolate and then coat it in coconut before the cool of the icecream hardens the chocolate, all whilst making it look pretty and not getting too much melted chocolate and coconut all over the kitchen? Sadly I have no photos at all of this process as I only have two hands, both of which were busy and messy, but I wish I'd thought to take a photo of my kitchen table after all was said and done. It was a work of art.
Oy vey! Enough with the complaining already! Was the finished product worth it? Oh yes, it was. Before the grand unveiling however, I primed my friends' stomachs with some salad and a little homemade pizza..
Pre-lamington pizzas - pesto chicken, sweet potato, caramelised onion and goat cheese (also with rocket but not shown); zucchini, roasted red capsicum, portobello mushroom, kalamata, caramelised onion and bocconcini
Finally, it was time. May I present to you.... my contestant in the 2010 Lamington Reinvention Stakes.... Cherry Ripe Lamington Ice Cream!
These babies are pretty massive, and we could only get through half each before admitting total defeat (perhaps the pizza priming was a mistake). My friend S suggested that they would be great in bite-sized portions that I could make using large ice cube trays, which I think is an excellent idea.
Thanks for instigating this challenge Mr. P! I declare you to be an honourary Australian. From this day forward please look upon Fosters with scorn, randomly shorten the names of things (why don't we call them lamos? We should be eating lamos in the arvo for our smoko), use the phrase "yeah nah" at least once in every conversation, lay claim to people and things that you have only the most tenuous of links to (no, Aussie media, just because she had the misfortune of once being engaged to Lleyton Hewitt, she is not "Aussie Kim Clijsters") and most importantly, choose which team you belong to - yob or wanker.
Mr. P is actually in the midst of a 10 day lamington reinvention marathon, and so far he's come up with some impressive goods - check out his creations (and naked Kewpie, ooh!) at Delicious Delicious Delicious, where he'll also be posting a lamington reinvention roundup on the big day - Australia Day, 26 January.
Speaking of Australia Day, I'll be spending mine playing spot-the-Southern-Cross-tattoo at the Australian Open. Woot! I'm heading east to Melbourne on Monday, and doubt I'll get any more posts out before then, so Happy Australia Day to you all!!