One of my favorite treats as a child was delivered by the Good Humor Man. When we would hear him cycling down the street pushing the ice cream cart in front, bells ringing, it seems like every kid in the neighborhood would come running. A Toasted Almond bar was my favorite. Smooth vanilla ice cream covered in a crunchy nutty coating. It was heaven on a stick.
Sometimes I would cheat on Toasted Almond with a Chocolate Fudge Cake bar but most of the time I stayed loyal.
The bars used to look like this.
Now they look like this.
Since I have not tasted this new version, I have no idea what that stuff in the middle is.
Anyway, this recipe reminded me of those Toasted Almond ice cream bars and of running after the ice cream man which, luckily, I don't have to do anymore since I have my own ice cream maker. If I didn't, I still so would.
The best part was the crunchy topping. Similar to a Crème brûlée topping but with an almond twist.
Two quick notes on texture: The first is I had no soft brown sugar on hand so I used one with large granules. As a result, the topping never became glass like when baked. I thought the large granules gave it great texture but next time I will try the soft sugar.
The second is, while this recipe came out pretty well, I definitely can use some more practice on perfecting my custard skills. The custard was not as creamy as I'd hope for but I don't think it was the recipe's fault. It was mine.
(From Helen Brown's West Coast Cook Book, Forward and Annotation byIngredients:
- 1 pint whipping cream
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 7 egg yolks room temperature
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds
- Soft brown sugar for topping
- Preheat Oven 350 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil, spread the almonds out on the sheet and place in oven. Remove when almonds are toasted.
- Meanwhile, heat up water in the bottom part of a double boiler.
- Using the top part of the double boiler or in a small sauce pan, heat the cream, 6 tablespoons sugar and salt directly on a burner until boiling.
- Beat the egg yolks and the brandy together.
- Turn heat off and add a bit of the cream mixture to the egg yolks whisking constantly.
- Slowly add the yolks to the cream mixture whisking constantly.
- Transfer the pan to the double boiler whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.
- If you want, at this point you can strain the custard.
- Mix in the almonds and pour into a small baking dish (I used an 8x8 inch square earthenware dish) and refrigerate at least 12 hours.
- Preheat the over at 350 degrees F or use the broiler.
- Remove from fridge and sift a 1/4 inch layer of soft brown sugar over the top.
- Pop in oven or broiler and bake until it starts to brown.
- Remove from the oven and place in fridge until ready to eat.
- Serves 6 to 8.