Around my Sea-Of-Red Lettuce and arugula bed is a fearsomely sharp barricade of wooden kabob skewers to deter a certain four-legged creature from demolishing my pint-sized garden. (This certain quadruped spends 95% of her time in bed and 5% wreaking havoc. It's the sweet life.) My greens have fared pretty well, but the Gerber daisy I got for Valentine's day has not been so lucky. I'd been happy to be given a potted plant, since, to me, the imminent wilting of a bouquet taints any romance with foreboding. After surviving a hasty transplanting and a couple of storms, I found it riddled with insect holes. Besides being a little upset by the symbolism, I was not devastated from losing one daisy. For every thing, there is a season, I guess. I started drifting down memory lane, reminiscing about the plants I've lost and the ones that hurt the most. Certainly, the more I had been looking forward to the fruit--the two or three cucumbers a potted patio plant can bear--the more crushed I was. Shaking the dirt off the roots of the droopy green lace that was once my daisy, I caught myself fantasizing about what it would be like to have the acreage to grow a garden that, when ravished by bugs, would be heartbreaking.
Locusts, the 8th plague on Egypt, descended as a cloud and devoured what was left (after the previous 7 plagues) of any living plant before you could even see what was happening. Certainly a terrifying image--and one that is still relevant, as foreign pests can wreck a crop. Little things, en masse, do some serious damage.
Little grasshopper pies hopefully do less damage. A Southern dessert via a cocktail, popular in the 1950s-60s, Grasshopper Pie is traditionally a chiffon pie flavored with crème de menthe and set in a chocolate crumb crust. Probably a more apt coda to chicken and dumplings than matzo ball soup. Oh well.
Chiffon pies generally use gelatin or cornstarch, both of which I avoided by making a custard ice-cream. I replaced the cookie crust with a kosher -for-passover shell adapted Fannie Farmer's very old recipe "chocolate coconut crust for frozen desserts" adding ground nuts to the coconut.
I went a little overboard on the crème de menthe, which I don't recommend doing because each tablespoon lowers the freezing point of the ice cream. Keep in mind that mint leaves may vary in strength so I do recommend tasting a little of the mixture as you add the liqueur so that you don't cross the threshold into Aquafresh.
Mini Frozen Grasshopper Pies
Grasshopper Ice Cream
- 1 C milk
- 1/2 C sugar, divided
- 2 C cream
- 4-5 egg yolks (apparently counting is not my strength)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 C packed fresh mint leaves
- 3-6 T crème de menthe (I added a little choco-mint schnapps)
- 1 C angel flake coconut
- 3/4 c blanched almonds toasted
- 2 T matzo cake meal or flour
- 1 C powdered sugar (or granulated sugar that's been pulsed in the food processor)
- 3 T hot water
- 2 T butter
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- melted chocolate for drizzling
For the ice cream:
Place the mint leaves in a large bowl or jug. Whisk the yolks and half the sugar in a bowl. Heat the milk and other half of sugar in a heavy pot until almost boiling and sugar is dissolved. In a slow, steady, stream, pour the milk into the eggs, whisking continuously. Pour back into the pot and cook over moderately low heat, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 170 ° or coats the back a spoon. Pour the hot mixture over the mint leaves. Press a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge. Once cold, strain though a fine sieve. Stir in cream and salt. Slowly add the crème de menthe one tablespoon at a time, until desired mintiness. Transfer to an ice cream maker or still freeze. Place in a container and finish freezing in the freezer.
For the crusts:
Grind the nuts in a food processor until about the size of cookie crumbs. If your coconut has large flakes, process it too. Add the matzo cake meal, salt, and coconut (if you haven't yet) to the nuts and pulse a few times to mix. In another bowl, whisk the sugar with the water. Melt the chocolate and butter together, then add to the sugar-water. Stir in the nut mixture. Press into greased mini-mufffin tins (or regular muffin tins, or pie plate). Chill in the freezer for a couple hours.
If you want, remove the crusts from the tin by running a knife dipped in hot water around the sides of each crust. Spoon some ice cream into each crust and top with melted or shaved chocolate. You can re-freeze them or serve right away.