To celebrate my month of no sugar, I decided this past weekend, to make the most decadent, delicious dessert I could come up with…one that would really be worth eating! I had some chocolate cake scraps left over from a CakeWorthy order (trimming the tops off cakes to level them, leaves a lot of people happily eating bits of otherwise unusable cake). A piece of cake went on the bottom of every glass, with 2 scoops of the most fantastic homemade coffee ice cream (thank you David Lebovitz), caramel hazelnut brittle and freshly made chocolate sauce. If you’re looking for perfect, giddy ecstasy in your mouth, eat this!  Let’s be honest, that’s what we hope for from every dessert, but we pretty rarely get it. Most of our sugar intake fills some kind of hole, but doesn’t quite live up to it’s promise of consummate bliss! This totally did for me! I didn’t sleep all night from the caffeine and I had a long and tiring work day the next day, but it was totally and completely worth it!!

You could make chocolate cake just for this recipe, or you could omit it altogether. It’ll be fantastic either way!

This is enough to make 4 servings.

Coffee Hazelnut Sundae

4 small pieces of chocolate cake to fit in the bottom of four glasses. You could use this recipe or this one.

David Lebovitz’s Coffee Ice Cream (with a few of my tweaks)

1/2 cups (375 ml) whole milk

3/4 cup (150g) sugar

1 1/2 cups (125g) whole coffee beans

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream

5 large organic egg yolks

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp. coffee extract

Warm the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup (125ml) of the cream in a medium saucepan. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from heat and let everything steep at room temperature for at least an hour.

Rewarm the coffee-milk mixture. Pour the remaining cream into a large mixing bowl and set a large strainer on top.

In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yols until light and fluffy. Slowly pour the warm (not scalding hot) coffee mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the whole mixture back into the saucepan.

Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the mixture over low heat. Scrape the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the spatula. This may take several minutes, so be patient. On the other hand you don’t want to cook it to the point where the yolks start to curdle, which happens at 175 degrees. If you have a thermometer, great, otherwise test it with your finger. If it’s very warm, or hot, it’s good (you want it to be above 140 degrees to kill off most of the bacteria).

Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream. Press on the coffee beans to get as much flavor as possible. Discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and coffee extract. Either mix over an ice bath until it cools, or cover and stick it in the freezer until it’s cool. Chill it more in the refrigerator. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Chocolate Sauce (also by David Lebovitz)

1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (160 g) agave nectar
3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened cocoa powder 
2 ounces (55 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Heat all the ingredients, except the chopped chocolate, in a small saucepan, whisking well. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until it melts. Let sit a few hours before serving to allow it to thicken a little.

Caramel Hazelnut Brittle Crunch

2 oz. water

4 oz. sugar

a pinch of salt

A handful of toasted hazelnuts.

Insert the tips of a few toothpicks into several hazelnuts. Set aside. 

In a small saucepan, add first the water, then the sugar and salt. Cook over low heat until the caramel starts to brown. This will take several minutes, but keep watching it, because once it starts, it gets dark very quickly. Turn off the heat and dip your “spiked” hazeluts entirely into the caramel. Set them down on your silpat or parchment with the toothpicks facing up, like this.

Work quickly (you only need 4 perfect hazelnuts, so don’t make more than 7 or 8). 

Throw the rest of your nuts into the caramel and quickly pour everything out on your silpat or parchment. Be very careful. Hot caramel can really hurt you if it touches your skin!

Let everything cool and completely harden. Break up the mixture an pulse it in a food processor to make a coarse dust. This will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Pull the toothpicks out of your remaining hazelnuts and use these for decoration.

To clean your pot, fill it with water and bring to a boil to dissolve the caramel.