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Malt Ice Cream with Almond Crunch

What is the future of publishing?

LOL, how would I know?!

But maybe one thing might be more independently published books, which I am down with if they are all as beautiful as Lark, Cooking Against the Grain by John Sundstrom, chef/owner of Seattle’s Lark [1]restaurant. The cookbook was funded through Kickstarter and produced entirely in Seattle, taking the whole local movement up a notch. The book is beautiful to the extreme, in fact, it is more beautiful than most of what is coming out of the major publishing houses in our country. So there’s that. I think the secret to that beauty is, in part, a singular, very personal vision. Lark tells the story of a way of cooking and interacting with the earth that draws you in and makes you want to be a part of it. It is comprehensive, not only including recipes, but also ways of dealing with ingredients and sourcing food.

Sundstrom smartly divides the book into three “seasons” Evergreen, Bounty, and Mist—each specific to his Pacific Northwest. Even that simple chapter division seems revolutionary in a world of cookbooks that can all start to feel the same.  Original voices and extreme beauty? Maybe those are what will keep printed books alive.

You’re not necessarily going to tackle every recipe in the book (some lean more toward restaurant cooking than home cooking), and for those of us outside of the Pacific Northwest, ingredient sourcing might occasionally be tough, but there is enough here you will be anxious to make. And the rest will serve as inspiration. I find the dessert recipes to be particularly accessible and I am looking forward to trying all of them. I started with this relatively simple malted ice cream, which is elevated to dessert-status with the addition of some almond croquant (crunch!). It is such an elegant little sundae that I can imagine finding many reasons to make this again. It is a perfect little end to a meal, and another reason to own Lark.

Between this book and the Dahlia Bakery cookbook [2] (and, you know, Linda [3]), the real question is: how and when am I going to get myself to Seattle?!

Malt Ice Cream (from Lark: Cooking Against the Grain [4])

In a medium sauce pan combine the milk and heavy cream and bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium heat.

While the milk mixture is warming, combine the sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Prepare an ice bath.

Take the milk mixture off of the stove and while whisking the egg mixture, slowly add 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture to gentle heat them. Whisk in another 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Whisk constantly so the egg yolks do not scramble.

Now whisk the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan while slowly pouring the now-warmed egg mixture into the saucepan. Place the saucepan back on medium heat and stir constantly with a heat-proof spatula. Continue stirring until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon and has reached 180°F.

Remove the custard from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a metal bowl or container.

Whisk in the malt powder and strain through a fine mesh strainer again. Add a pinch of kosher salt and the vanilla extract. Immediately place the bowl into the ice bath and stir to cool down the mixture. Once cooled to room temperature, place the container in the refrigerator and chill  completely, preferably overnight.

Churn in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Almond Croquant

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the egg white until it’s foamy and then stir in the sugar.

Add the sliced almonds and pinch of salt to the sugar and egg white mixture and stir to combine.

Spread the mixture thinly onto a buttered baking sheet (or a sheet lined with a non-stick baking mat).

Bake until golden brown all over and crispy on the edges. Cool completely to room temperature, break up into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve.