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I figured that since I went to trouble of plating it up, taking a picture, editing the picture, and uploading the picture, I might as well get another post out of it.

This is a decent but not great pumpkin ice cream (for which I'm not providing a recipe), paired with a really good coffee-cocoa "soil" or "crumble" or whatever you want to call it (for which I am providing a recipe). I find the pairing of pumpkin and coffee to be quite stellar. In fact, pumpkin and chocolate is pretty great, too. And obviously coffee and chocolate is a classic. So, really, any combination of pumpkin, coffee, and chocolate works. You can substitute other sweet squashes, too. Butternut or kabocha would work well.

I got the idea for the pairing from a recent meal at Coi, in San Francisco. I didn't take pictures at the meal, so I wasn't planning on posting about it, but it was a really stellar meal--the best haute cuisine meal I've had in San Francisco. Ingredients were fresh and flavorful (one side of their menu was a list of the purveyors from which they sourced each specific ingredient). Tastes were subtle and sublime. Techniques were innovative, non-obvious, deliberate and thoughtful. Our server was one of the best two or three servers I've ever had. One of the dishes, the roasted cauliflower and smoked bone marrow, was one of the top two or three dishes I've ever had. Coi still wasn't perfect, but it was the closest I've come in this city. The desserts were well-matched to the savory courses, philosophically, and might have even been more interesting. One of the desserts paired squash and chocolate in some form, and it was fantastic.

Anyway, the ice cream and coffee-cocoa stuff pictured here was (is?) to be one component of a composed dessert course. I was (am?) going to pair pumpkin, coffee, chocolate, and chicory. I got as far as the pumpkin ice cream and coffee-cocoa soil. I'm not going to post a recipe for the ice cream for two reasons: 1) as I previously explained, the pumpkin ice cream wasn't perfect; and 2) I failed to measure exactly how much of the roasted pumpkin puree I added to the ice cream base, so I'd be guessing anyway. But the coffee-cocoa soil stuff was perfect. It's adapted from a Sam Mason recipe.

Coffee-Cocoa Soil

  • 100g sugar
  • 160g flour
  • 24g cocoa powder
  • 20g coffee beans, preferably fresh
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted
  • 4g salt

Grind coffee beans as finely as possible (use a spice grinder, then strain through a sieve). "Blitz" (a useful but stupid-sounding word) all ingredients briefly in a food processor to mix well. Spread into a baking dish in a layer anywhere between 1/4" and 1" thick. Press it down into the pan with something heavy and flat. Bake at 150C (300F) for 20 minutes. Let cool, then either break apart by hand, leaving it a bit more chunky, or toss it back into the food processor for a couple pulses to break apart completely (as I did here).

Posted by Barzelay on 2009/01/18 @ 22:54 | Comments (3) | Baking, Desserts


I planning on incorporating this coffee-cocoa soil into a desert this weekend and I'm hoping you'll explain what you mean by "blitz"ing the ingredients. How does it differ from pulsing. Thanks.

Posted by: Food Rockz Man at January 27, 2009 9:56 PM

Oh, sorry. Blitzing refers to using the food processor on something. It's my understanding that it's the term the British use, and lately Americans have been using it more. It sounds ridiculous, but there is no good verb for what the food processor does. "Pulsing" is a fine word for brief pulses, but if you're using the food processor for a more sustained period, what do you call it? "Food process the ingredients?" "Process the ingredients?" "Puree the ingredients in a food processor?" "Put all the ingredients into the food processor and turn it on so that it makes a whirring sound while the ingredients spin around with the blade cutting through them?"

Anyway, pulsing will work fine for this recipe.

Posted by: Barzelay at January 27, 2009 10:04 PM

Cool . . . thanks . . . that makes sense. I've always wrestled with precisely this question . . . what to call the process of processing food in a food processor. I like "blitzing."

Posted by: Food Rockz Man at January 28, 2009 12:09 PM