Monday, July 12, 2010

Spumoni Sundaes with Espresso Hot Fudge Sauce

I am, at this very moment sitting, gobbling down slippery spoonfuls of this very dessert in my smart martini glass very, very thankful for having made this sundae mid-day just for the heck of it! I love spumoni. My husband does not. Therefore, If I was going to have this dessert I was either going to have to make it for other people (oh, and I will!) or indulge in a little lunch time decadence, which is exactly what I did and highly recommend.

Real spumoni is a classic Italian frozen dessert of ice cream, whipped cream, rum, nuts and candied fruit. Usually, we see it here in the states as an ice cream with 3 flavors (cherry, chocolate and pistachio) like neapolitan. Those three flavors are the essence of spumoni and this sundae channels it like none other. Its a very tasty, and sexy dessert in my opinion. It's also sophisticated, especially served in a martini glass. Oh, and it also only took 20 minutes to make from start to finish. A very nice plus!

I first had spumoni ice cream at a restaurant in Camarillo, CA called Ottavios. We used to go to that restaurant when we would visit my great-grandfather. His wife, my Nani, died when I was about 12 or so and he usually ate out. Later in life we he would frequent the Wood-Ranch Grill, but for a long while, we only went to Ottavios. I don't remember how great the food was, but since my Grandfather was Italian, I bet it was pretty good. But what I do remember was the spumoni ice cream that I would get each visit! It was so good! There is just something magical about that chocolate/cherry/pistachio combination and It holds a certain sort of nostalgia for me.

This spumoni inspired sundae is my new favorite. Because it has fresh ingredients, it breaths new life into the classic dessert taking it up a notch or two. I was a bit afraid of the espresso powder in the hot fudge sauce since a coffee flavor would not be authentic, but never fear, it was perfect. It didn't overwhelm, it just added a special something and was delicious. What I didn't put on top was whipped cream and honestly, it doesn't need it one bit but it would look pretty if you had some on hand.

Spumoni Sundaes with Espresso Hot Fudge Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010

1/4 cup amaretto or other almond liqueur
3 tablespoons cherry preserves
1 cup (6 ounces) fresh cherries, pitted, halved
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or coffee powder
4 ounces semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pints pistachio gelato or ice cream
lightly sweetened whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
chopped pistachios, for garnish (optional)

Bring amaretto and preserves to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium; boil gently until mixture is reduced to 3 tablespoons, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat . Add cherries; let soak at room temperature at least 3 hours. You can make this up to 1 day ahead.

Bring cream, honey and espresso powder to a simmer in another small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and butter; whisk until smooth. You can make this 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm just until pourable before using.

Spoon 1 tablespoon fudge sauce into each of 6 dessert glasses. Add 2 scoops of ice cream in each glass. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon fudge sauce over gelato on each. Top with whipped cream, cherry mixture, and pistachios.

I said I made this in 20 minutes, but really if you are doing this correctly you are supposed to let the cherries marinate in it's sauce for at least 3 hours. True, this would have made the cherry flavor more concentrated and thus better...but it was outrageous without letting it sit, so there.
I don't own a cherry pitter so I just cut the flesh off the cherry around the pit, like you would a mango. It's very easy.