Some may say the coolest part about Summer is heading to the beach, cookouts in the backyard or simply driving around with the top down, but ask pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini — and it’s desserts! In fact, we did just that, when we caught up with him just after the July 4th holiday. Read on for all the sweet details, including a sneak peek at a recipe in his upcoming cookbook!
Hi Johnny! When it comes to food this time of year, everyone seems to be talking about grilling and BBQ — but let’s talk about what you do best: desserts! What are a few of your top tips for making and serving Summer treats?
First and foremost, in the Summertime, I really like to focus on ripe fruit. Now is the time when the famers’ markets are really thriving, so you should take advantage of that. I also like to keep it light. On a hot day, I might make a basil syrup to pour on top of fresh strawberries. All you have to do is add sugar to a small pot of water, then bring it to a boil and add pureed basil. Next, pour it over the fruit and top with whipped cream.
Are certain fruits better for baking than others?
The best baking ingredients are those that have lower water content, like apples and pears. Cherries are in season now and they’re great for tarts or little individual cobblers. I’m a big believer in creating smaller desserts so that people can sample. This way, there’s something for everybody.
You also have a new cookbook coming out. When will it be available and what can we expect to see in it?
As of right now, the book is untitled but it will be out in Fall 2014. It’s all about basic baking principles and helping people to understand the science behind it — and it can be just as useful for someone who bakes as a hobby as it can be for someone who bakes for a living.
A little birdie told me it will include some great ice cream recipes. Is that something you learned as part of your pastry training or did you have to do additional research?
All my recipes are a culmination of my experiences and I’m always trying to innovate and do something different. Plus, I’m a lover of ice cream, and I like to create recipes with tart flavors, like sour cream and citrus, which I actually feature in my book.
What’s your favorite flavor?
Mint chocolate chip! It’s been a favorite of mine ever since I was a kid, and now I make my own. I get fresh black peppermint and a high quality bitter chocolate at the market. Then, I shave the chocolate with a knife and fold in the chips — and that’s my guy.
Well, thanks for the inside scoop! But before we go, think you can give our readers a quick recipe that pairs deliciously with ice cream?
Absolutely. Try this Strawberry Shortcake with the Sour Cream Sorbet we spoke about before. They go perfectly together.
To learn more about Johnny Iuzzini and the other Macy’s Culinary Council Chefs, visit macys.com/culinarycouncil
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the texture resembles fine crumbs. Whisk the milk and egg together and pour through the feed tube, hitting the pulse button until the dough comes together evenly.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a square. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Set the oven rack in the top position. Heat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment.
Flour the working surface lightly and roll the dough into a square about ½-inch thick. Cut into 1½-inch squares and place on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with pink salt. Bake until risen and lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes (longer if you’re not using convection).
Serve the shortcakes warm, with the Slow-Roasted Strawberries and Sour Cream Sorbet (recipes below).
Heat the oven to 200°F, preferably on convection.
Hull the strawberries and make a cut across the top so the strawberries can stand up.
Toss the berries with verjus to just barely cover and taste. If you’re not using 8 Brix, you may want to add a few drops of balsamic vinegar to balance the acidity. Macerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Strain the strawberries and stand them up in a baking dish just big enough to hold them comfortably. Roast until the berries have darkened, turning almost a maroon color; they should be very tender but still hold their shape, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Remove the berries from the dish and cool to room temperature before serving.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
Put the sour cream in a mixing bowl. In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar, water, and honey together and bring to the boil over medium heat. While whisking, pour the hot liquid over the sour cream and whisk until combined and smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice and whisk well.
Set the bowl in the ice bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until very cold. Refrigerate the sorbet base overnight.
Spin the mixture an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 weeks.
Sorbet yields approximately 1 quart
Recipe yields 12 servings
Recipes compliments of Johnny Iuzzini 2013