Thick Shakes with Strawberry-Mascarpone Panini

Chef Rob Evans creates exalted food at Hugo's in Portland, Maine (where he was named an F&W Best New Chef 2004), but he's also a sandwich savant. At his sandwich shop, Duckfat, he makes a splendid dessert panino with brioche, strawberry jam and mascarpone, a delicate spreadable cow's–milk cheese. Evans pairs the panino with a superthick milk shake that blends ice cream with custardy crème anglaise sauce. He usually pairs these panini with vanilla shakes, but strawberry is equally delicious.

Thick Shakes with Strawberry-Mascarpone Panini
Photo: © Dana Gallagher
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 2 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped

  • 1 pound strawberries (2 pints), sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 8 slices brioche (1/2 inch thick)

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 pints strawberry ice cream


  1. Fill a large metal bowl with ice water and set another large metal bowl in it. Set a strainer in the bowl.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar until slightly pale. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the cream and vanilla beans and seeds until small bubbles appear around the edge. Add the hot milk to the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Return the vanilla mixture to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Strain the vanilla sauce into the bowl in the ice bath and let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the strawberries, orange juice, zest, vinegar and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar; season very lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has become jammy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the jam to a bowl and let cool.

  4. Heat a panini press or griddle over low heat. Spread the mascarpone on 4 of the brioche slices. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the jam on each of the other 4 slices and close the sandwiches. Brush the sandwiches with the butter and grill or press until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the panini to a cutting board and dust with confectioners' sugar. Halve each sandwich.

  5. Put 1 pint of ice cream and half of the vanilla sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 large glasses. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and vanilla sauce to make 2 more shakes. Serve the milk shakes right away, with the panini.

Make Ahead

The vanilla sauce and jam can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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