Saturday, August 23, 2008

Transmission from the mainland

In less tropical parts of the world, it’s blueberry season right now. Back in North Carolina, Alpha Dad has been hard at work tending the bushes that are overflowing with berries. There are only about four or five, but really, they’re massive. You may have read about the health benefits of blueberries in the news lately—those free radical fighting berries packed full of antioxidants and age defying powers have been mentioned quite a bit. I convinced Alpha Dad, master of desserts, to share his divine, boozy secrets of the blueberry. As long as he promised not to be funnier than I am.

Simple Summer Sundae
text and photo brought to you by Alpha Dad

An elegant dessert doesn’t need to be complex or fancy, it only needs to contain the best ingredients. Starting with the base of our sundae, the vanilla ice cream: how do you choose a good one? First go to your grocery freezer and look for the one with the highest butterfat. I’m particularly fond of Edy’s Rich and Creamy Grand, French Vanilla. I would avoid the vanilla bean varieties, which can sometimes be bitter. Over 50% of the calories in Edy’s French Vanilla are fat calories. I don’t eat this everyday, but when you spend a year making the sauce, only top of the line will do. We’re seeking dessert Nirvana, and looking for quality over quantity. Second, get fresh fruit from your garden or local farmer’s market—this will make the topping. (However, you should be able to shorten your sauce preparation—nobody really wants to wait a whole year.) And of course any good sundae should only be topped with fresh whipped cream!

Now let’s talk blueberry sauce, which is a product of my backyard.

Blueberry Sundae Sauce

what you’ll need: pint jars, vanilla vodka sugar, and a little patience.

1. Add ¼ cup sugar per pint jar
2. Fill jar 80% with blueberries
3. Add vanilla vodka until jar is full (I used Stoli).
4. Cap lightly and shake to remove residual air, topping off with the vodka.
5. Place jar in the back of your refrigerator to rest. In my case it happened to be one year, but you can try tasting it every few days or weeks until you get the desired flavor

Up until this point I had no idea what to do with the mixture, but after tasting it I realized it had the potential to be a nice sauce; fresh blueberry flavor with the right sugar content and alcohol flavoring that isn’t overpowering. I discovered upon opening the jar one year later that the skin on the blueberries was a little tough and I wasn’t pleased with the texture, so I put the mix directly in the blender along with an additional ½ cup of sugar. Initially it seemed thin, but by the next day, the blueberry concoction had set up with a nice body. Add that sauce to your ice cream, throw in a banana and some fresh whipped cream, and you’re all set. Bon Appetit.

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