Looking at this photo gives me the most acute sense of pleasure and pain. Pleasure because it’s one of those dishes that was so freaking good I found myself asking: “Did I seriously come up with this and pull it off?!?” And pain because the inspiration for this dessert came from – hands down – the most uncomfortably full moment of my life.
It was late into our honeymoon in Spain and we were spending a few days in Asturias – a region famous for sweeping views of mountains plunging straight into the sea; crisp, complex hard cider; incredible meat grazed in the mountains and seafood fresh from the ocean; and creamy yet pungent Cabrales blue cheese.
Anthony and I were on a cider and cheese tour in a tiny village with a small group of Spaniards. It was cloudy in that close, misty way you only encounter in the mountains, and we spent hours traipsing across muddy fields, through gnarled orchards, and deep into musty caves. Anthony tried valiantly to translate the regional dialect and farm-specific vocabulary into English for my benefit, while I mostly nodded and smiled. Somehow the process of turning apples into hard cider and milk into blue cheese really does transcend language barriers (with the help of some wild gesticulation).
The tour ended with a tasting meant to showcase the region’s culinary treasures. It began with crisp, puffy corn cakes that we were invited to smear liberally with Cabrales blue cheese and drizzle with honey. I had already consumed an embarrassing number of these (and drank my fill of cider) when I realized the “tasting” was actually going to be a seated six-course meal.
I happily sampled creamy bean soups and regional sausages, but by the time we got to french fries smothered in local blue cheese sauce I was seriously struggling. I smiled weakly and nibbled at each passing course (saying “no, thanks” was not an option). By the end of the meal, my breaths were coming quick and shallow, sweat was beading quietly at my hairline, and the waistband of my jeans felt like vice grip.
In an effort to get some relief, I yelped a panicked “No!” when Anthony asked if I wanted to buy any of their products and slipped outside for air. I wound up leaning against a building trying to catch my breath, willing my stomach to hang on tight, and cursing myself for getting in this position. The tiny Spanish ladies around me had packed in WAY more food, and yet they were happily puffing their postprandial cigarettes a couple hundred feet away.
I will tell you (though it shames me to do so) that when I realized that the building I was leaning on was a pig barn, I actually thought: “Well, I guess if I need to lose my lunch…this isn’t the worst place to do it.”
Let’s just say it was a low point and leave it at that.
You’ll be happy to know that with a slow stroll through the village and some deep breaths, I managed to hold on to my meal (if not my dignity).
I know this story isn’t exactly endearing the idea of this recipe, but trust me. Even in the midst of the pain, shame, and labored breathing, I was deeply aware that the mix of sweet, crispy corn, tangy blue cheese, and something sweet drizzled on top is heavenly. If you’ve got an ice cream maker, you have to try this!
You can find the recipe to the corn cakes here. Make the corn cakes (minus the salsa, of course), top with a scoop of the Gorgonzola ice cream, and drizzle with maple syrup or honey.
Enjoy it…in moderation!
Gorgonzola Dolce Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup (about 2 ounces) softened Gorgonzola dolce
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Cream the Gorgonzola with a rubber spatula in a medium bowl until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the Gorgonzola until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Freeze ice cream base in your ice cream maker until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours.