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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Acai Blueberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Granola

I have to admit, acai berry is not my favorite flavor. Unlike most other berries it is far from sweet. In fact to me it tastes a lot like liquid cardboard. So when my Brazilian friend gave me a bunch of frozen acai berry juice I was less than thrilled. If you don't know much about acai, here is the link to the wiki.

After talking to her and doing some research I found that there is an incredible lack of acai berry ice cream. You can find sorbet and sherbet easily, but no ice cream. So I set out to mimic the famous Rio Bowl -- vanilla yogurt, acai berry and granola. Adding the blueberry and chocolate was to help my poor palate.

The end result had a slight textural problem. It was a bit gritty, but not especially so. Maybe it would do better as frozen yogurt. My only guess is that this comes from the fruit itself. Perhaps if I had reduced the juice more the problem would go away. Of course, it could be the nature of the fruit. Like pineapple, it is possible that it contains something that doesn't react well with dairy when cooked. I am going to have to do more experimentation. This may be why we don't see it on the market in ice cream form very often.

Another problem was the color. Acai berry is a very deep purple. When added to dairy it turns the mixture an extremely unappetizing shade of grey. I had to break down and add red food coloring to make it purple again. The Fellow likes to be as natural as possible and hates using artificial ingredients. I implore you to find a natural food coloring as opposed to the artificial one available in most supermarkets.

As for the taste, this fellow found it to be as good as acai berry can be. I liked it just fine. It is easy to taste all the components in this ice cream and the acai berry isn't too strong. Although, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend also liked it, none of the tasters thought this was one my best efforts. Mrs. Fellow downright hated it. She said it tasted like "frozen nursing home." Ouch!

So I warn you now, acai berry can be a polarizing taste. Not everyone will love it. If you are into it already or want to try one of the most interesting new foods with potentially huge healing powers than give this one a go.

Acai and Blueberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Granola

200 GRAMS of acai juice (sorry about the grams it seems strange to measure liquid in grams but that was what was on the package because it was frozen. Shame on me for not converting to to volume.)
1 cup blueberries
1.5 cups milk
1.5 cups cream
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Red food coloring
4.5 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 ounces granola

  1. Put the blueberries and acai berry juice into a small sauce pan and cook until the berries are really soft. Puree. You will need a half of a cup of puree.

  2. You should know this next part pretty well by now. Mix the yolks and whole egg with about 1/2 of the sugar, set aside. Heat the milk and cream until it is slightly steaming. Temper the eggs with the dairy, than add the eggs back into the dairy pot. Stir constantly until the mixture reaches 175 degrees F. Strain through a fine sieve.

  3. Add the vanilla and half of a cup of the acai/blueberry puree. Stir in thoroughly. Taste and adjust to your liking. The color will be grey. Add the red food coloring until you find a color you like. Cool, and then chill in your refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

  4. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once melted, remove the chocolate from the heat and ass the granola. Mix thoroughly, then spread onto a piece of parchment or silpat to cool. Break up and large chunks into smaller pieces.

  5. Freeze in your ice cream machine. Add the granola during the last minute.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where have you been?

Life can be so inconvenient sometimes. Between finals, working, and buying a house I have not had the time I would like to spend with you. Very shortly I will hopefully have a new ice cream flavor to post -- acai berry with chocolate covered granola. In the meantime, the best thing I have to share to with you is my mini-review of Chef Richard Blaise's new restaurant FLIP.

FLIP is a burger boutique. The burgers are inventive. It had only been open four days when we went for lunch. The usual opening week glitches were present but none were insurmountable and don't warrant mentioning in detail.

The real star for ice cream lovers are the shakes. At $7 each they aren't cheap. When my sister-in-law's boyfriend saw the prices he was shocked. I was instantly reminded of the dinner scene in Pulp Fiction between Uma Thurman and John Travolta where they discuss the $5 shake. And oh yes, these bad boys are worth the price!

We had two shakes -- nutella with burnt marshmallows and Krispy Kreme. Although the Nutella one could have used a bit more Nutella flavor it was quite possibly the best chocolate shake this fellow has ever had. The marshmallows were a great addition. By far, the Krispy Kreme one was table's favorite . It tasted exactly like Krispy Kreme donuts. Words can't even begin to describe how good it was. If you like shakes and you like donuts, you will love this one.

We had a minute to talk to Chef Blais and he gave us the best news. His foie gras milkshake does make occasional appearances on the menu. This is the best shake ever. If you have the chance to try it, get one because you will never look at shakes the same way again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Happy fall! Here is a recipe for pumpkin-ginger ice cream with spiced pumpkin seeds. I developed this recipe with some help from my new friend Michelle at She runs a company dedicated to teaching kids how to cook. The above picture was taken by Michelle. She used trader Joe's brand canned pumpkin. My version was the traditional orange color. Michelle made some modifications to my recipe. Check it out at her blog.

As an ice cream ingredient, pumpkin can be tricky. It contains a high amount of water. The secret is to extract some of it before adding it to the ice cream. I used a method from Cooks Illustrated recipe for pumpkin pie. Line a rimmed baking sheet with three layers of paper towels. Then spread the pumpkin across the towels in a thin layer. Place another three layers of paper towels on top of the pumpkin then press down with your hand. You will see the paper towels turn orange as the water is absorbed. When you are finished, remove the top layers of towels. Scrape the pumpkin off of the bottom layers.

Due to my hectic schedule I cheated this recipe a bit by using Libby's brand canned pumpkin and raw pepitos from Trader Joe's, but you really should do this from scratch. Be sure to buy pie pumpkins as opposed to the really large jack-o-lantern pumpkins found in most supermarkets. Cut the pumpkin, clean out the seeds and bake it or microwave it (with some water so it steams) until it is cooked. Scrape it out, then press out the excess water and you are good to go. Treat the raw pumpkin seeds the same as the peptios.

Pumpkin-Ginger Ice Cream with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds:

For the seeds:

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitos
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 2 minutes, turn the sheet 180 degrees and bake for 2 more minutes. The seeds should begin to pop. Remove the seeds and cool them to room temperature.

  2. Mix the white sugar, cinnamon, cloves and allspice in a bowl and set aside.

  3. In a small saucepan, combine the water, brown sugar, and butter. Heat over medium heat until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the cooled seeds. Stir so that the seeds are completely covered, there should be almost no liquid left in the saucepan after the seeds are mixed in.

  4. Mix the wet seeds in the bowl with the sugar mixture. Toss so everything is well coated.

  5. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool until room temperature. Wrap the seeds in an airtight container once cool.

For the ice cream:

1.5 cups milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
7 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
15 oz canned or fresh pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with three layers of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin across the towels in a thin layer. Place another three layers of paper towels on top of the pumpkin and press down with your hands. You will see the paper towels turn orange as the water is absorbed. When you are finished, remove the top layers of towels. Scrape the pumpkin off of the bottom layers. You won't get all of the water, but the towels should be completely orange and wet.

  2. Put the milk and cream and 1/2 cup of the sugar into a pot and bring to a slight simmer stirring occasionally.

  3. As the milk and cream are heating, place the egg yolks and whole egg into a bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, powdered ginger, and salt and beat until the ingredients are incorporated.

  4. Once the milk/cream mixture is slightly simmering, remove it from the heat and temper the egg mixture by adding a small amount of the hot milk/cream and stirring thoroughly. Repeat this process a couple of more times to ensure that the eggs have warmed up. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.

  5. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

  6. Remove the cooked custard pot from the heat. Strain through a sieve into a large bowl.

  7. Stir in the pumpkin and the vanilla. A whisk works well for this.

  8. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill overnight or at least 4 hours.

  9. Freeze in your ice cream machine. Add the seeds during the last minute of freezing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Roselani Ice Cream

My new friend Cathy Nobriga Kim at Roselani Ice Cream on the island of Maui has a great story. Her company has been in the business of making ice cream for 76 years. They are available in only in Hawaii and have developed loyal customers that demand their product throughout the USA. Unfortunately, shipping ice cream from Hawaii is very expensive, but it doesn’t stop people from as far away as Wisconsin and New York from calling and pleading to get her ice cream. As Cathy described it for me, “people look for my ice cream because it brings back wonderful memories from their time on the Islands.”

Cathy is also a breast cancer survivor. She created a flavor, Aloha Cherry Truffle, specifically to raise money for breast cancer. Seeing as how this is breast cancer month, I thought it is a perfect time to share her story.

What makes this so great is that her flavor development and usage was a community event. In making it a reality, she worked with the Maui Medical Center Foundation and the Maui Community College Culinary Program. In fact, the latter now produces the truffle for her ice cream.

17 food service establishments used her ice cream as the main ingredient for a creative dessert event called the “A.C.T. Sweet Now to Beat Breast Cancer” campaign. The restaurants created imaginative dessert preparations and donated portions of or all the proceeds to a fund specifically created through the foundation to raise community awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. The program was so successful that Cathy is now offering the flavor in cartons for retail. Here is a picture of the carton, as designed by award winning designer Sadene Ota:

One of the hot trends found in big business today is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is about understanding that corporations are also forces with the power to positively affect change for the better in their local communities. All companies engage in charity because it makes good business sense and it feels good, but this is just step one of the process. In the future companies will probably have to align themselves with communities in which they do business. Some of this is happening now. One example is what Nestle did when it opened a plant in India. Another example is Starbucks, who pioneered fair trade for coffee growers. Donating funds to a museum and the local soup kitchen are worthy causes, but citizens of the world are demanding more active roles for corporations on larger scales.

It is great to know that this is trickling down to smaller companies. Roselani is ahead of the curve. Not only is Cathy helping to fund breast cancer research; she is providing an excellent educational experience too!

An entire community joined together to use ice cream to do good for the world. Is there anything ice cream can’t do?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I did the TV Show!

It went well. The whole thing took a couple of hours. I really like the host, Gary Unger. His idea is great. I can't wait to see the final result. I'll let you know when it is going to air.

The show is about creativity and I had to show some at the last second. Gary had asked for me to bring some samples of my ice cream. I chose the Peanut Butter with Jam Sandwiches and the Chocolate with Blueberry Port Wine Swirl. Unfortunately, I took my eye off the blueberry reduction and it got too hot. The result was the sugar went to the hard crack phase and I was left with a pan full of blueberry port wine lollipop. So I improvised at the last minute. Below is the recipe for tequila chipotle raisins which I used as an add-in to the chocolate ice cream. Spicy ice cream is confusing to the brain so it is important not to overdue the heat. Between bites you feel the chipotle at the back of your throat, but it isn't overpowering.

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons of tequila
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup of raisins (I measured 80 grams, which is about 1/4 cup)

1. Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes until a syrup is formed.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit until it reaches room temperature.
Add to chocolate ice cream after mixing.

One more thing to note. I had leftover bases for both the chocolate and the peanut butter. I was going to layer them in a terrine and show you a really pretty picture. Instead, I remembered I had a lot of dry ice left over from my transport to the TV shoot so I decided to try Chef Blaise's dry ice freezing method in my Kitchen Aid mixer. I mixed the two bases together in the mixing bowl and threw in about a pound of the dry ice which I had crushed to small pieces. The ice cream froze in less than a minute. Its texture was perfect. Give it a try some time, just be careful not to eat the dry ice. It is very cold.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am going to be on TV

On Monday I record a segment for TV about creativity. I am very excited, but they do not provide a make up artist. The Fellow desperately needs someone to help powder his shaved head.

I am going to bring a couple of samples of my work. The flavors I am picking are Mango-Lime with Gingered Carrots and Peanut Butter and Jelly.

In the spirit of Halloween a pumpkin recipe will be coming soon.

I just made a new friend, Cathy Nobriga Kim at Roselani Ice Cream in Hawaii. She has a great story that I will share with you soon...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Apple Cider Caramel Ice Cream

I have made some great recipes from the book The Sweet Life, by Kate Zuckerman, the pastry chef at Chanterelle in NYC. Her recipes are usually a bit complicated, but they don’t seem especially difficult for me. The flavors are always amazing. The next recipe is an adaptation of her Apple Cider and Caramel Ice Cream. I added bourbon because I thought it would be a great complimentary flavor, and I was right. Sorry, but the digital camera is still not replaced. Pictures will return soon.

I have to note a few things about this recipe.

• You might notice a bit of similarity to Chef Blais’s recipe – Reduced liquid, lots of eggs. I am beginning to think that I have to revisit my basic ratio of eggs to dairy. The texture is much better than my way.

• I didn’t like it out of the machine. It was sour and lacked sweetness which is odd considering that ¾ cup of sugar was used to make the caramel. After it sat for a couple of days, I retasted it and it was much better.

• The texture is out of this world great. The finished product is so soft and creamy because she uses 8 egg yolks and one whole egg.

• You can’t really taste the bourbon in the final product, but it helps mellow the sourness of the cider.

Apple Cider and Caramel Ice Cream:

5 cups of fresh apple cider, reduced to about 1.5 cups
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
8 egg yolks
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 tbl of bourbon

1. Use my caramel technique from this post. This time, use the 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of water, and the pinch of cream of tartar. DO NOT ADD THE CREAM YET!!!!

2. When the caramel is finished, return the pan to medium high heat add the cider until smooth. Then add the cream and milk. Heat the whole mixture up until it is at a bare simmer.

3. Whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and salt.

4. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cider mixture, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of cider mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cider pot.

5. Heat to 175 degrees F.

6. Remove from the heat, strain, add the bourbon, cool, and chill. Then freeze.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guest Blogger -- Richard Blais on Sweet Tea Ice Cream

This week's recipe for Sweet Tea Ice Cream comes courtesy of fellow Atlantan and guest blogger, Richard Blais. I have been a huge fan of Chef Blais's food from the first bite of the first meal I ever had from him. It was an amuse bouche on Valentine's Day, 2004 of caramel, asparagus and Parmesan cheese. It may sound strange, but trust me it was delicious and began my mouth's love affair with his food. Chef Blais now has his own company called Trail-Blais which does everything from creative development to public speaking.

A couple of comments about his recipe:
1. If you saw Chef Blais on Top Chef, then you know that he known for his integration of molecular gastronomy and traditional techniques. Locust bean gum is one of those industrial ingredients that can be hard to locate. You can find it at Tierra Spice Company.

2. Because the ice cream is frozen with dry ice, you should not use a ice cream machine. Instead, use a electric stand mixer (like the ones available from Kitchen Aid) with a whisk attachment. The point is to stir the ice cream as it freezes to help control ice crystal formation and let the dry ice do the freezing. I have not made this recipe, but I will try it and report back.

But enough from the Fellow, without further ado, here is Chef Blais's recipe and discussion:

SWEET TEA ICE CREAM from Richard Blais

I’d have to say that sweet tea ice cream has been one of those things we take with us from project to project. Especially being based in the South, we just really love what this recipe brings to the table. It’s mildly creative, I mean, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. It respects tradition, and finally, well, it just makes so much sense.

The birth of sweet tea ice cream, and maybe that sounds a little too serious, is a bit grey in clarity. It was definitely brought to the table by Jeff Sigler who was my pastry chef at Element, as an accompaniment to a lemon based dessert. I’d say it was the thought of lemon, what works well with it, the fact that featuring tea and regional items was something we did frequently ( at BLAIS, we often served a sweet tea amuse in 2 temperatures, and with capsules filled with dehydrated honey ), and Jeff’s spark that brought it to the original menu.

I love that it respects traditional refreshment, but shows it in a new way. And flavorwise I love that it isn’t too sweet at all, an issue I have with sweet tea in general. I also love, that as you look at the simple ingredients, you realize that certainly milk and tea are commonly combined.

The added show piece of freezing the ice cream with dry ice makes the dish even that more snarky, and well, Blaisian. I mean, dry-iced-tea?

3 quarts reduced to 1 pint -- sweet tea right from the fridge
Heavy cream -- 1 quart
Egg yolks -- 7 each
Locust bean gum -- 1 % of the weight of the cream base
Dry ice -- a pound or 2

1. Reduce the tea to thick syrup and cool
2. Warm the cream and tea syrup, then temper in the whipped egg yolks
3. Hydrate the gum in a touch of water, then mix in the cream egg mixture
4. Test for sweetness, and if necessary melt some more sugar into the base
5. Pour cooled ice cream base in the mixer with a whisk attachment
6. Gently drop in crushed small pellets of dry ice into the mixer as it spins on half speed
7. When the base is frozen to your likeness, serve freeze for later.

NOTE: Dry ice is not meant to be eaten on its own. And it’s important that the ice is crushed small enough to dissolve as it’s cooling the fridge. Having the ice cream sit over night will dissolve the dry ice. However, eating it straight from the mixture may leave it carbonated!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Come for the ice cream, stay for the revolution!

Check this out. These guys drive around New York City luring people with free ice cream and literature of their extreme left ideas.

The ICF maintains no political affiliations and likes to think that good comes from having many different schools of thought, but he wonders about the need for ice cream to disseminate their information. Is their message so radical that without the hook of free ice cream no one would listen? If that is the case, then perhaps they should take a close look at their beliefs. Ice cream is a perk, not a tool for societal change.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It has been too long

Sorry for the lack of recipes as of late. My latest concoction, although tasty, did not work out as well as I would have liked. I have mentioned before that Baby Fellow is allergic to milk. In my quest to make a treat that she could enjoy, I spent the last couple of weeks working on popsicles with limited success. The closest I came was the last batch of plum-orange. First off, it tasted exactly like apricots. Second, my proportion of fruit to water and sugar was off. Rather than end up with a hard, icy fruit pop, I got soft sorbet-like texture. It is still good enough to share, it just isn't what I had hoped. Maybe you can make something out of it.

Baby Fellow enjoyed them very much. I think her exact words were "yummy yummy!" Here is a picture of her and her popsicle:

Plum-Orange Popsicles

10 - 12 ounces of plums, peeled and pitted
One medium to large navel orange, zested and sectioned, membranes removed
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

1. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Add the plums, orange, and zest into a saucepan. Return to a boil then reduce the temperature to simmer the fruit. Cook, stirring frequently, until the plums become very soft.
3. Puree the mixture.
4. Cool to room temp, then chill for four hours or until everything is cold.
5. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or Dixie cups (if you do this, you need to add sticks during the freezing process.
6. Freeze until frozen solid.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Frozen Cherry Cokes

This is a dessert consisting of layers of cherry ice cream and coca-cola sorbet. And yes, it tastes just like a cherry coke, only better because it is ice cream. I apologize for the lack of a picture. My digital camera is behaving badly. I have half a mind to take a hammer to it.

Originally, I tried to adapt a recipe for root beer sorbet that I found on the Internet. It was a strange recipe using gelatin and corn syrup. The end result was a granita. It was too hard and therefore wouldn't work when combined with the ice cream. After some experimentation, I determined that the trick to making the sorbet is to cook the coke down to nothing. The end result has the right texture. When tasted alone, you may not think the sorbet has enough coke flavor, but do not fear it works perfectly in the final product.

The cherry ice cream is a variant of the previous recipe I posted a while back. In the original recipe, it annoyed me to no end that I had to supplement the cherry flavor with concentrated cherry juice. So I changed the recipe a bit. By reducing the amounts of milk and cream and using more in-season cherries the flavor worked out. My measurement by weight for the cherries is taken post-pitting. So be sure to have plenty on hand.

Lastly, I am not including the recipe for the brownies I made, but I had made some cinnamon-chipotle brownies earlier in the week that were very spicy. Surprisingly, the ice cream and the brownies worked pretty well together. This fellow suggests you make a batch of your favorite brownies and serve them alongside or make ice cream sandwiches.

Here is the sheet:

Coca-Cola Sorbet:

2 cans of coca-cola
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1. Pour the coke saucepan. Turn the heat on high, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

2. Simmer the coke until it reduces to 1/3 of its volume.

3. Stir in the corn syrup

4. Chill in the refrigerator until cold. Then freeze in your ice cream machine.

Cherry Ice Cream:

1 lb. pitted cherries
1 tsp lemon juice
1 ¼ cups cream
1 ¼ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar + 35g to sweeten the fruit
3 egg yolks

1. Place cherries in a sauce pan, turn heat to medium low and slowly cook them for about 15 minutes. The cherries will get hot and break down a little. Puree them. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Use some extra sugar to make the fruit a bit sweeter if necessary. Set aside.

2. Combine, milk, cream, ¼ cup of the sugar in another saucepan and bring to a bare simmer.

3. While the cream/milk is heating, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until it is incorporated.

4. Once the cream mixture is at ready, remove it from the heat. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cream, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.

5. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Add the cherry puree.

7. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

9. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.

10. Freeze in your ice cream.

11. Layer the ice cream with the sorbet, starting and ending with the ice cream, making a total of 5 layers. Freeze the container overnight to ripen it. When you scoop it the next day, you will have cherry ice cream with a coke ripple.
An alternative presentation is to make a terrine by lining a bread pan with plastic wrap. Layer the ice cream and sorbet then cover and freeze. The next day, use the plastic wrap to unmold the terrine and cut it into slices.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chocolate Ice Cream with Caramel and Spiced Peanuts

By now all of the voters must be anxious to see the recipe and hear all about my adventures with making it. And by adventures, I do mean it was a crazy ride. Four batches of caramel, three batches of nuts, and two different chocolate bases later I finally achieved a fantastic result.

This is the best chocolate base I have ever made. It is so chocolaty and creamy you won't believe you could make something this decadent at home. I used Callebaut bittersweet as the chocolate. I wanted a strong flavor to offset the nuts. Here is the worksheet:

Caramel... well... is caramel. As I mentioned I have had a bit of a problem with it. The final version I made was a too dark, but the flavor was good so I decided to use it. You may not be able to see it in the ice cream very well, but it is there and it is a great addition. Although, I did not do it this time, I like to swirl in some butter as the caramel is half-way cooled to room temperature. It really adds a great dimension to the flavor. If you want to use this option, make the caramel as I prescribe below, then add four tablespoons of butter one at a time once the caramel has cooled about half-way to room-temperature. Make sure that each tablespoon is fully incorporated before adding the next. This works best when the butter has warmed to room temperature. Do not add melted butter or add the butter when the caramel is too hot. You want to emulsify the butter as opposed to melting it into the caramel.

The nuts were the worst part for me. Whatever I might have told you in the past about skinning peanuts being easy, well I take it back. It isn't hard, but it is time consuming and I actually had to blanch the peanuts a second time because not all the skins were coming off easily. Please, I implore you to find raw, skinned nuts. You will thank me for it later.
If you have never had Chinese five spice powder before, you are in for a treat. This ubiquitous Chinese seasoning consists of star anise, anise seed, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. Five spice powder is usually a savory ingredient, but it does show up occasionally in dessert.

Tips for success:

1. Make the caramel and the nuts first. They must be no warmer than room temperature before adding them to the final product. Obviously you do not want to melt your freshly made ice cream.
2. Careful with the caramel. It can be tricky. Remember to pull it off when you get to a medium amber color. Keep a close eye on the pan because if it gets too dark, you'll have to start over. Also, the cream tends to sputter and can flare up when it is added. Do yourself a favor and wear protective clothing. Long sleeves or good mid-arm length oven mitts will work well.
3. I suggest you line the baking sheet with foil when making the nuts. Because the pan contents are added with the water some of the spice mixture will inevitably stick to the pan. Using foil makes cleanup a breeze.

For the Caramel:

The method for this is from Alton Brown. You can always trust that he has done a great job researching how to make things successfully. Unfortunately, only you can judge the color. Be careful to pull it off the heat and swiftly add the cream. You want to cool the sugar quickly or else it will keep cooking.

2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ cups cream, warmed to at least room temperature, but never boiled.

1. Put the sugar and the water in a sauce pan. Combine over medium heat until the sugar has incorporated into the water. You may stir a little during this phase to make sure the sugar and water are evenly combined. But don't go overboard with the stirring.
2. Turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil.
3. Cover for 2 minutes.
4. Remove the cover and watch closely for the next three minutes. When the sugar becomes medium amber in color remove from the heat.
5. Add the cream carefully so as not to burn yourself. See the tips for success above for recommendations.

For the Nuts:

When you taste the finished nuts before they go into the ice cream, you may think I am crazy. You won't necessarily like them. Younger Sister-in-law Fellow said "at first they taste bad, but then the flavor becomes delicious." This is hardly a good quality. I think food should taste good from the start. In fact, I was so disappointed with them, that I considered scrapping the recipe and apologizing to you for a failure. Only once they are in the final product with the chocolate and the caramel do they really shine. This recipe makes too many nuts. In fact, I have so many left over and so much caramel, I am contemplating making some homemade candy bars. The finished nuts have only the slightest hint of heat. If you like them spicier, increase the amount of cayenne pepper.

1 pound raw peanuts, blanched and skinned.
2 teaspoons 5 spice powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon of salt (I actually used three turns of my salt grinder)

1. Preheat the oven to 275 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Place the water in a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the salt and spices; bring to a boil for 15 - 20 seconds.
3. Turn off the heat, add the peanuts, and mix well.
4. Dump in the pan contents (water included) onto the baking sheet. Spread the nuts into a single layer.
5. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Periodically check on the peanuts. Move them around so they brown evenly. Depending on your oven, you may want to rotate the baking sheet too.
6. Remove the nuts from the oven when they are roasted to your satisfaction. Remember they will not necessarily be hard when you remove them, but they will be when they are cooled. The golden rule for nuts is that when you can smell them, they are done. Be careful here because you will smell the spices before the peanuts are finished.

For the Chocolate Ice Cream:

1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate cut into chunks (for the base)

1. Combine the cream, milk, and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a saucepan and heat to a bare simmer stirring occasionally.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Beat until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture turns pale yellow.
3. Coarsely chop the chocolate.
4. Once the cream mixture is at ready, remove it from the heat.
5. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cream, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
6. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Remove the pot from the heat. And add the chocolate. Stir until the contents are completely melted. If you are having problems getting the chocolate to melt, you may return the pot to the heat very briefly.
8. Stir in the vanilla extract
9. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
10. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.
11. The next day, freeze the custard in your ice cream machine. During the last minute of the freezing process add the peanuts.
12. Put about one third of the ice cream in a container. Spread a layer of caramel on top of it. Put down another third of the ice cream, then another layer of caramel. Finally finish with the ice cream. When you scoop the finished product you will see the swirls or caramel.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Where Caramel Goes to Die

Sadly, I have ruined two more batches of caramel. This experience has taught me something very valuable that was not given in any of the 10 caramel recipes I consulted. The cream must be room temperature before you incorporate it into the boiling sugar. Otherwise, the cream will cool the liquid too quickly and you'll get a lumpy and still wet mess.

The other thing I learned was that there is an easy way to clean the pan when this happens. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Then pour the contents out and all the sugar stuck to the pan will be gone.

I blame this all on Baby Fellow. She may be very cute, but she is also very dangerous. She gave Mrs. Fellow and I a nasty case of the Ebola. It has me off my "A-game". Please forgive the lack of recipe this week. I'll have something for you soon after I recover. In the meantime, if you crave ice cream recipes, check out the Food Network. It is brain freeze week or something like that. It is also a good time to check out a couple of my friends like Ice Cream Ireland and Dessert First.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I burned my caramel. Usually this is not a big deal because but I used up all of my sugar. I feel awful for making such a rookie mistake. Caramel should be easy, but I second guessed myself and let it stay on the heat for a couple of seconds too long. The color went from the medium-amber it should have been to dark amber. It tasted bitter and was too close in color to the chocolate ice cream.

Hang tight the recipe is coming soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Poll Runoff

The poll was a tie between Cherry Coke Ice Cream and Chocolate Caramal with Spiced Peanuts. So I changed the poll to remove the less popular choices. You have until sunday to break the tie. I have great ideas for both.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Saturday, August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. To celebrate this auspicious occasion, this week’s recipe is cinnamon ice cream sandwiches with oatmeal chocolate raisin cookies. Sorry I am not much of a photographer. I do okay with most things, but ice cream melts so quickly it can be hard to get the shot right before too much damage is done.

You already know the cinnamon ice cream recipe, so I won’t bother to repeat it. You can find it here. The original recipe was posted prior to the worksheet implementation so I feel obligated to provide it for you now.

As for the cookies, they are an adaptation of the Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins and Milk Chocolate Chips from The Sweet Life, by Kate Zuckerman. I added a hint of cinnamon to the cookie to accent the ice cream and changed the process for sizing them to make making ice cream sandwiches easier. Her hint, which holds true for my version is to not use quick cooking oats. I wouldn’t go so far as to use the steel cut McCann’s brand either. It won’t cook fast enough and there isn’t enough liquid to soften that style of oats either. Your best bet is the Quaker Oats can.

Some notes on assembly of the sandwiches -- You are best making the cookie far enough ahead and cooling it completely before freezing the ice cream. You don't want a warm cookie melting your ice cream during assembly. Also, you are best to apply the ice cream right out of your ice cream machine when it is still soft. Be careful not go too far to the edge because once the second cookie is put on top, it will push the soft ice cream down and out the sides some.

Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins and Milk Chocolate Chips:

1 ½ cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ounces butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 whole eggs, room temperature
1 egg white, room temperature
3 cups uncooked oatmeal
8 ounces milk chocolate, chips, or chopped bar
1 cup golden raisins (about 5 ½ ounces)

1. Heat an oven to 350F
2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk to incorporate. Set aside.
3. Cut the butter into rough chunks. Cream in a stand mixer (use the paddle attachment) on medium speed for a minute or so.
4. Add the sugar; beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl at least once.
5. Add the dark brown sugar. Beat for 4 more minutes. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, at low speed. Beat until batter looks glossy and smooth.
7. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and oats then roughly incorporate by hand. It will take about 10 + turns. Return the bowl to the mixer and mix on low for 60 – 90 seconds until everything is well combined and nothing looks dry.
8. Add the chocolate and raisins. Beat for a minute or two on low speed to fully incorporate.
9. Line two baking pans with greased (I use butter) aluminum foil, parchment paper, or silicon mats. Spread half of the batter onto each sheet. Make sure that batter stays about 2 inches away from every edge of the baking pan. The cookies will spread you want to make sure they have somewhere to go. Don’t worry this batter is very stiff and holds its shape well when you spreading it into the pan.
10. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are crisp and brown and a cake tester comes out clean from the middle.
Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from their pans.
11. To make the ice cream sandwiches:
12. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the first cookie on the foil, top side down.
13. Spread the ice cream on the cookie in an even layer about 1 inch thick. Place the next cookie on top of the ice cream, top side up. Place the assembly in the freezer to harden for a few hours.
14. If you want, trim the edges to get everything even and remove the hardest parts of the cookies. Cut into shapes or bars.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Poll is Back

I know what I want to do this week and maybe next, but I have too many flavors to think about again. Please help me prioritize them by voting on my poll.

Dean and Deluca is offering 9 pints of Jeni's Ice Cream for $100. If you order from Jeni's website it is cheaper. They definitely have some interesting flavors. Has anyone tried it?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gazpacho with Cilantro Lime Ice Cream

As I mentioned the other day, at least one wholesaler of avocados (Grande Produce) has voluntarily recalled their products due to salmonella. When I called Grande today to inquire about the scope of the recall, I was told that there were (or will be) other recalls of avocados that were farmed in the same area. Apparently, there are 15 or so importers/growers in that region with potentially unsafe products. So I had to scramble to find a new recipe for you. I strongly urge you to take great care when selecting avocados from the market.

I had been looking forward to the combination of gazpacho and ice cream. Bruce Weinstein has a recipe for gazpacho with avocado ice cream in his book The Ultimate Ice Cream Book. I really liked the idea of a more savory ice cream as component of a main meal. Who made the rule that ice cream is only a sweet treat?

For those of you who don’t know, Mrs. Fellow is a trained chef with two culinary degrees. Although she is now a Wall Street tycoon, I still get the benefit of having a well trained chef cook my dinner every night. This is great for my mouth and horrible for my belt line. So naturally, upon receiving a great recipe from Mrs. Fellow-in-law, my wife instantly rewrote it to suit her needs. I was given very little direction about how to approach this ice cream other than the instruction that I must be able to compliment cilantro and that it should be savory. Well, as savory as ice cream can get.

Lime and cilantro are great combination. Don’t let the amount of sugar in this recipe fool you. 1/3 of a cup is plenty to keep things in balance and provide a light sweetness. When it is warm, the custard is very sweet and taste of the lime is overwhelming. Once frozen the cilantro flavor is fully exposed and although you can taste the sweetness, it is not even close to the center of attention.

Here is the worksheet for this ice cream:

The soup is rather spicy. It is excellent on its own, but the ice cream tempers the heat nicely and gives a soothing creaminess to the dish. This gazpacho is left fairly chunky. It certainly isn’t as glamorous to look at, but the texture is more satisfying. Serve this with a salad and a nice piece of fish for a great and easy weeknight meal. What do you do with the leftover ice cream? Eat it. Although it works its magic with the soup, it is good on its own. The flavor is surprisingly light and refreshing.

Cilantro – Lime Ice Cream

1 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems are ok)
¾ cup whole milk
Grated zest from two limes
1/3 cup of sugar
2 egg yolks
¾ cup cream
Up to 2 grams of salt

1. Put 4 cups of water on the stove and bring to a boil. In the meantime, wash the cilantro well (it is a very dirty vegetable). Once the water is at a full boil, toss in the cilantro. After 10 seconds remove the cilantro and soak it in cold water. This will help to preserve the color. Squeeze out as much of the excess water as possible.
2. Put the cilantro, lime zest, and milk in a blender. Blend on high for about 45 seconds to really break down the cilantro. The milk should turn bright green.
3. In a small saucepan, put the cream, cilantro infused milk, and about half of the sugar and heat to a bare simmer.
4. As the saucepan heats, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and salt.
5. Once the saucepan contents come to temperature, remove the pan from the heat and slowly temper the eggs by adding in small quantities of the hot milk/cream to the eggs. Put all the contents back into the saucepan and return the pan to the heat.
6. Cook, stirring constantly until a candy thermometer reads 175 degrees F.
7. Remove the pan from the stove, strain through a fine mesh sieve (optional). Cool, chill, than freeze.

About 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ small sweet onion, rough chopped
2 red bell peppers, rough chopped
1 pound cucumbers
3 ½ ounces of lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 cup corn kernels
3 tablespoons, chopped cilantro

1. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, 1 pepper, ½ pound of cucumber in a food processor and puree until smooth
2. Stir in the lime juice and cayenne pepper
3. Add the remaining vegetables, season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a scoop of Cilantro-Lime Ice Cream.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update July 22, 2008

I am a bit annoyed. I had an idea for ice cream to share with you for this week, but the FDA has escalated its war against salsa by striking out at avocados. I had purchased four beautiful Mexican avocados from the local ethnic grocer. The salmonella tainted products are peppers and avocados from Mexico. Hence, it is back to the drawing board. Hopefully, I will be able to find ripe avocados from California (I don't care for the Floridian ones). If not, something will come to me soon.

The next door neighbor fellow is 7 months pregnant and miserable in the heat. To help her out, I am in the process of making her the Roasted Banana Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I won't post the recipe because it is the same as his. At the moment it is in the refrigerator cooling. My initial taste indicated that it is very sweet and may be better mixed with a bit of cinnamon and/or maple syrup. I'll tell you more about the final product soon.

Incidentally, July 23 is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. Please check out my earlier post on the subject and enjoy a bowlful to celebrate the amazing versatility of the world's most popular flavor.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lemongrass Ice Cream

I guess I have been on a bit of an Asian theme lately. This will be my second recipe in a row using Far East ingredients. I still have a few more in store for you eventually. Reader Lauren asked for an Olympic themed ice cream. So I have been bouncing around ideas. I am also strangely attracted to another David Lebovitz recipe for orange and Szechwan pepper corn ice cream. Lastly, I found this great blog dedicated to Japanese ice cream flavors. There aren’t very many recipes, but if you look through the posts, there are some opportunities for interesting flavor profiles. The wasabi ice cream has caught my attention.

Lemongrass is a great ingredient. It tastes like lemons, but more subtle and without the tartness. The outer layers are very tough. I suggest peeling off just a few layers to get past the really dirty stuff. You have to trim it to lengths of less than 8 inches for use. Be sure to remove enough of the bottom that you see all the layers and not just one or two. Be sure your knife is sharp. This stuff can be tough to cut and dull knives can easily lead to injuries.

This recipe is based on the one in Frozen Desserts by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir, but I borrowed some of the technique from Pichet Ong’s book, The Sweet Spot. He has a recipe for Lemongrass Frozen Yogurt that looks really good. I found it as I was looking for a dessert for our Asian dinner on Friday night.

Why use the technique from Chef Ong? The finer the mince on the lemongrass, the more it will impart its flavor into the milk. This happens for two reasons. First, during processing, the oils are released into the milk during the mincing process. Second, the remaining flavor is picked up during steeping. The smaller the pieces, the more surface area of the lemon grass is exposed to the milk.

I like the blueberries in the ice cream. Lemongrass flavor by itself gets a bit dull after a few bites. The blueberries work well and keep my tongue from getting bored. Of course, that is just me. You may be different. Also, I like the dried wild blueberries from Trader Joe's. They are always sweet and have more flavor than any other dried blueberry I have ever tasted. They are very small, but their flavor can easily overwhelm. I suggest using them judiciously.

Here is the worksheet:

Lemongrass Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup cream
½ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup of chopped fresh lemongrass (100 grams by weight)
Dried blueberries (optional)

1. Peel the outer two or three leaves of the lemongrass. Chop off and discard the ends so the remaining stalks are around 8 inches in length. Bruise the stalks by crushing them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. You can also use the flat side of a chef’s knife and your hand to do this (just as if you were crushing a garlic clove).
2. Place the milk and the lemongrass in a blender and blend to finely chop the lemongrass.
3. Place the milk, lemongrass, and cream into a saucepan. Bring to a bare simmer. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes so the lemongrass can infuse its flavor with the dairy products.
4. Return the saucepan to the heat after 30 minutes steeping time and as it reheats, quickly mix the eggs and sugar.
5. You know the drill from here. Once the dairy is warm again, slowly add some of it to the eggs. Once the eggs are tempered, add them to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until the thermometer reads 175 degrees F.
6. Remove the custard from the heat, strain it into a bowl. Be sure to press the excess dairy out of the lemongrass in the strainer. Cool the mix to room temperature then chill it overnight. The next day, freeze it in your ice cream machine. If you are adding the blueberries, do so in the last minute of the freezing process.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Green Tea Ice Cream with Chocolate Rice Crisps

This recipe is from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I have had very limited success with making green tea ice cream prior to using this recipe. The big reason is brewing the tea. In the past I would stick tea bags into the hot milk and cream and let them steep for a good while. I could never get enough tea flavor into the ice cream which probably was due t the nature of the fat in the liquid clogging the tea bag. Mr. Lebovitz's recipe uses matcha, Japanese green tea powder that eliminates this problem.

The advantage of matcha is that it is powdered. This means you are not steeping anything. Just dump it in and stir it up. The other big deal with matcha is that you are actually eating the tea. This means you get more health benefits from the good stuff within the tea.

The disadvantage of matcha is it is very expensive. How expensive? It can run you anywhere from $18 to $40 USD per ounce. Luckily a little goes a long way. There are cheaper alternatives. Some Korean green teas are powdered and less costly, but I have yet to try them.

Mr. Lebovitz's recipe is great, but I really wanted to make it my own. To that end I added the chocolate rice crisps. If you have ever had genmai-cha, green tea with roasted brown rice, than you know that adding crispy rice cereal to the ice cream will enhance the flavor. I couldn't help but add the chocolate too. Think of this as green tea ice cream with dark chocolate Krackle Bars. I incorporated pieces of the crisps into the ice cream. It works well, but I think that the chocolate becomes the star as opposed to the green tea (Mrs. Fellow likes it this way). Next time I make this, I will serve big pieces of the chocolate rice crisps on the side as garnish. When it comes to the final product, either way will work well, it just depends on your taste.

This is the work sheet for the ice cream:

Green Tea ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
4 tsp matcha
6 egg yolks

1. Put the milk, sugar, and salt into a small saucepan and heat until a bare simmer.
2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs
3. Put the cream in a large bowl and stir in the matcha. Be careful with this step. Matcha tends to clump and if you beat the cream to much it becomes whipped cream. Your best option is to use a small fine sieve to dust some of the tea into the cream, then mix it in and repeat until all the tea is incoporated. NOTE - it will not be very green at this stage.
4. Add some of the heated milk to the eggs and mix gently. Do this a couple more times to ensure that the eggs are properly warmed.
5. Put the eggs into the saucepan with the milk and heat until 175 degrees F. Stir continuously.
6. Strain the custard into the cream.
7. Beat the custard with a wire wisk until frothy, you should notice that it gets a lot greener.
8. Let custard go to room temperature, chill overnight, then freeze in you ice cream machine. Add in the chocolate rice crisp pieces towards the last minunte of freezing in your ice cream machine.

Chocolate Rice Crisps:

8 ounces semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate (I used a combination of both)
½ cup crispy rice cereal (like Rice Crsipies)

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler
2. Add the cereal, stir to fully incoporate
3. Spread in a thin layer on a tray and place in the freezer to harden into a solid block of candy.
4. Once frozen, break the block into small pieces.
5. You can also leave them as big pieces and garnish the ice cream as I did in the photograph.

Ice Cream in the News

In case you are in Europe, particularly the UK, Anne Shooter has written a story about how expensive organic ice cream can be and her experiments with making ice cream at home. She also rates some of the more popular brands available across the pond. You find the article in the UK Daily Mail Online.

I have one comment about her article. She implies that the stabilizers and thickeners added to her store bought organic ice cream are not natural. They probably are natural, but not organic. I can't speak for the UK, but in the USA, if a product is made from at least 95% organic ingredients, then it can claim to be "Organic" on the label with qualifying itself by saying, "made with organic ingredients." It would be different story if the label said 100% Organic. In this case, every ingredient must be organic.

For those of us that believe organic is healthier, 95% organic is better than no organic ingredients. Keep in mind that this is a commercial ice cream product. Unlike homemade ice cream, the commercial stuff has to sit in a couple of different warehouse freezers and freezer trucks before getting to the store. Then it has to ride to your home (frequently in the heat of the summer). If you want 100% organic, you are going to have to make it yourself. Personally, I'll take 5% non-organic for the convenience.

Speaking of convenience, the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine has a story on ways to use store bought ice cream to create some original desserts. The recipes look like a great way to save some time in the kitchen and still get a dessert far more interesting than ice cream sundaes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Evils of HFCS

Sorry to report that my idea for an ice cream float has not worked out. I hate that it has been so long without posting a recipe, but this failure gives me a great opportunity to discuss the why you shouldn't use high fructose corn syrup when making ice cream. My recipe idea was for a reverse ice cream float -- cola flavored ice cream in a vanilla cream soda. I did some research and could not find a cola flavored ice cream anywhere. Now I know why.

I've said most of this before, but it always bears repeating. Inexpensive ice cream is filled with short cuts. The cheap stuff in the value tubs at your local supermarket is full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I won't get into the danger of HFCS, there are plenty of experts who can tell you about why you should never eat it, but when it comes to ice cream, HFCS is a menace.

HFCS is much cheaper than sugar. It is sweeter and goes a long way. The problem is that since it is not sugar, it does not behave the same way. It bonds to the other molecules differently and will almost always result in an icy texture. Yet the cheap ice cream that uses HFCS does not feel icy. That is due to their use of emulsifiers and the amount of air that is pumped into the mix to change the texture. Whatever you do, avoid HFCS like the plague. Regular corn syrup is different, it has a lot of home uses, but HFCS is a menace.

It should be business as usual by the end of the week. I will resume my weekly recipes. The next one will be my take on green tea ice cream.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Update

Last Friday, June 20, was National Ice Cream Soda Day in the USA. I have not forgotten about it. I am actively seeking an ingredient to make my very interesting ice cream float.

I have to apologize about the lack of new posts. I have been out of town on vacation. The family went to Chicago to visit friends and enjoy some time away from the grind. I have to share one of our meals with you. I am not fortunate enough to be Jennifer Zyman or Cliff Bostock when it comes to describing restaurants, but I hope to do this one justice.

One of the best things that we did in Chicago was have the honor of being the first customers at Marcus Samuelson's new restaurant, the C House. For those of you who don't know, Chef Samuelson is the owner of Aquavit in New York City and appeared on Iron Chef a couple of weeks ago.

Our meal was fantastic. As is his style, Chef Samuelson offers a menu filled with seafood, including an extensive raw bar. His flavors were clean, fresh, and inventive. I had the fluke, which was served in a clear sweet and sour broth that was light and had the most unexpected, yet delicious flavor. Mrs. Fellow enjoyed the lobster club sandwich, which may be one of the best reasons to go to Chicago. Lobster with avocado on a bacon brioche served with some outstanding fries and house made spicy ketchup (if memory serves they use half beef fat and half vegetable oil for frying). One last super delicious thing to note, Chef Samuelson offers a version of macaroni and cheese using goat cheese and chorizo.

Our desserts featured ice cream (no surprise there). I had the warm black forest cake with brandied cherry ice cream. Warm chocolate cake is almost always good and this one was no exception. I really enjoyed the cherries on the top. The accompanying brandied cherry ice cream was very tasty, but really did not have a lot of brandy flavor, which is just fine because I don't really like a lot of alcohol in my ice cream. The pastry chef stopped by our table and gave us a taste of her blueberry sour cream ice cream. It was delicious, but suffered from the same problem as my recipe -- a slight icy texture. Our friends loved it and did not notice the iciness. Maybe I'm just too critical. Mrs. Fellow ordered a trio of house made confections consisting of chocolate covered spiced marshmallows, blueberry biscotti, and the best vanilla cupcake ever. Words cannot describe the softness of the cake or intensity of the vanilla flavor. You have to eat one to believe it.

We also found the staff to be exactly what you want in this caliber of restaurant. They were friendly and knowledgeable. The wait staff did not know the menu inside and out, but that is easy to forgive on opening night. I appreciated that they were not afraid to tell you when they were unsure of ingredients and preparations especially where the Baby Fellow's order was concerned (because of her allergies). Chef Samuelson visited us several times. We found him to be a wonderfully warm and gracious host. Especially surprising was his great rapport with the three kids at our table. The wine steward left Napa Valley to come to Chicago for this job. He has put together a great wine list that definitely leaned towards whites which is a perfect compliment to the seafood heavy menu. He had great technical knowledge and was extremely helpful in aiding our wine selection.

With all the good food in Chicago, it is hard to go wrong, but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you skipped the C House.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Want to do a guest column?

This coming Saturday is the Second Annual Ice Cream Social at the Peachtree Farmer's Market in Atlanta. I was looking forward to competing, but I have another commitment that prohibits my involvement.

Is there a volunteer who wants to do a guest column about it?

If you live in Atlanta and like ice cream, you should go. The social will feature flavors by chefs and amateurs. I think it costs $10 to attend. Click this link to visit the Peachtree Farmer's Market website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sorbet Trio

Anita Chu who runs the Dessert First blog inspires today’s recipe. She made a strawberry and mango dessert for her parents’ visit. Mrs. Fellow had bought a lot of gorgeous strawberries from the local farmer’s market. I had a few mangos lying around the house for Baby Fellow who was not interested in eating them. After tasting the two together, I though that a third would better round out the flavor so I whipped a batch of lime-mint sorbet. I made the strawberry sorbet sweeter than I would have liked if it were being served on its own. The mango sorbet was left more tart to provide an interesting contrast. The lime-mint sorbet is subtly flavored with the mint to provide a clean flavor that refreshed the mouth after the sweet tart flavors of the other two.

These recipes are very straight forward so just jump right in. You’ll love them.

Strawberry Sorbet:

I am a bit vague with the amount of lemon juice in this recipe. Depending on the ripeness of your berries, you find that you need more (or less) lemon juice to balance the sweetness. In my version, I used the juice of one lemon, which was just a hair more than 2 tablespoons. Still, I left this a little sweeter than I would like if I was serving it on its own.

1 pound fresh strawberries
1 cup of water
1 ¼ cup of sugar
Lemon juice

1. Put the water and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a rapid boil and hold it there for 60 seconds. Turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat.
2. As the water is coming to temperature wash, stem, and hull the strawberries, place them in a blender.
3. Juice the lemon. You do not have to strain it.
4. Add the liquid to the strawberries in the blender and puree until smooth.
5. Taste the puree and add a tablespoon of the lemon juice, stir, then taste. If it tastes too sweet add another tablespoon of lemon juice. Keep going until the you like the balance. Remember, you are freezing this so leave it a little sweeter than you think it should be because the cold will numb your tongue and make it taste less sweet.
6. Cool to room temperature and chill for at least 4 hours.
7. Freeze in your ice cream machine.

Mango Sorbet:

It doesn’t really matter how many mangos you have or how much they weigh. The general guideline is to add half as much simple syrup as the amount of mango puree. Be sure to make enough syrup to cover the recipe and then some to compensate for less than ripe mangos.

Mangos (I used 1 ½ pounds)
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used the juice of 2 limes)
1 cup of water
1 ¼ cup of sugar
1. Put the water and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a rapid boil and hold it there for 60 seconds. Turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat.
2. As the water is coming to temperature, peel the mangos, cut the flesh into chunks and place in a blender. Be sure to squeeze as much flesh as possible off of the remaining pit. Puree the mangos and place them in a measuring cup noting the amount of puree.
3. Once the simple syrup is completed, measure half as much as you have of the mango puree. In my case I had 2 cups of mango puree, so measured one cup of syrup.
4. Pu the puree and the syrup back into the blender, add the lime juice. Blend for 10 – 15 seconds to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed.
5. Taste the puree and correct the sweetness if necessary. You may need to add a pinch of salt if the mixture is too sweet.
6. Cool to room temperature and chill for at least 4 hours.
7. Freeze in your ice cream machine.

Lime-Mint Sorbet:

In this recipe lime juice is the star. Using fresh juice as opposed to the bottled stuff will make a tremendous difference. You need the zest of one of the limes, so don’t bother washing all of them. I use a zester that leaves stripes in the rind. It is easy, but only removes half of the zest from the fruit. So I zest two limes to make sure I have enough. Increase the amount of mint and the steeping time if you like yours more minty.

½ cup fresh lime juice (at least 5 limes)
Zest of one lime
15 sprigs of mint
1 cup water
1 ¼ cup sugar

1. Rough chop 5 sprigs of mint.
2. Put the water, sugar, and chopped mint in a small pot. Bring to a rapid boil and hold it there for 60 seconds. Turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat. Allow the mint to steep for 10 minutes.
3. Juice the limes and place in a bowl big enough to accommodate all of the ingredients.
4. Wash one lime and remove the zest. Mince the zest and add it to the lime juice.
5. Mince the remaining mint and add it to the lime juice.
6. Once the syrup has steeped for 10 minutes, strain out the mint and add the syrup to the lime juice. Stir well to blend.
7. Taste the mixture and correct the flavor if necessary.
8. Cool to room temperature and chill for at least 4 hours.
7. Freeze in your ice cream machine.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Do they make a card for this?

In honor of today I have included a recipe for milk chocolate ice cream with mini marshmallows. Chocolate and marshmallow is one of this fellow's favorite combinations. Whether it is pinwheel cookies, chocolate snowballs with marshmallow fluff, or today's ice cream recipe I will eat it.

When I was kid, my parents used to take me to the mall to the local Friendly's for ice cream. I always ordered chocolate marshmallow. When Friendly's stopped carrying it, I was disappointed. That Friendly's location went out of business soon after. Let that be a lesson to you. Don't mess with chocolate marshmallow.

Milk chocolate is a wonderful ingredient that creates the most fantastic finished product. It has a creaminess and softness to it that you don't find in the darker varieties. That means that there you can use less sugar to overcome chocolate's bitterness.

It also means that you had better pick a great milk chocolate. Anything less will leave a washed out flavor in the finished product. There are a lot of expensive milk chocolates. Try to find the one that has the boldest chocolate flavor. It may not be the best for eating at room temperature, but it will fare better when frozen. I tasted four milk chocolates at the local Whole Foods on Thursday before making my decision -- Caro, Valrhona, Callebaut, and El Rey.

1. Caro is an interesting one because they caramelize the milk. It makes the chocolate sweeter and although tasty, the chocolate flavor was more washed out.
2. El Rey 41% - As with the Caro, this was good, but is a better candidate for candy making and baking than ice cream.
3. Callebaut 34% - This was the runner up. This was the best tasting bar to eat at room temperature. Consistently ranking high on most taste tests, Callebaut had a great flavor. It was decisively chocolaty and not overly sweet.
4. Valrhona Jivara 40% - The one I chose. As intense as possible in a 40% chocolate bar and it had the best mouth feel -- incredibly silky and smooth. If it weren't for the texture, I would not eat this bar plain. It was not the best tasting one, but it was the most intensely flavored.

I apologize for not having a chart for this one. There is no information about the breakdown of the content of this chocolate readily available. I am in touch with a Valrhona importer to get the specific information. When I get it, I will share it with you.

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Marshmallows

6 ¼ oz of milk chocolate
2 cups cream
2 ¼ cups of milk
5 egg yolks
mini marshmallows

1. Combine the cream, milk, and ½ cup of the sugar in a saucepan and heat to a bare simmer stirring occasionally.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture turns pale yellow.
3. Coarsely chop the chocolate.
4. Once the cream mixture is at ready, remove it from the heat.
5. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cream, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
6. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Remove the pot from the heat. And add the chocolate. Stir until the contents are completely melted. If you are having problems getting the chocolate to melt, you may return the pot to the heat very briefly.
8. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
9. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.
10. The next day, freeze the custard in your ice cream machine. During the last minute of the freezing process, add the marshmallows.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What is your Ice Cream Personality?

Forget about the Myers-Brigs test, five questions about ice cream can define your personality.

Your Ice Cream Personality:

You are a bit of a bragger. Your personality is larger than life - and you really enjoy showing off.

You are the type of person who likes to throw caution to the wind. You only live once, so you're going to live as large as possible. You are definitely a wild one!

You are a very open minded, liberal, and flexible person. You love many things. You tend to have tastes that range from down home to cosmopolitan.

You tend to have a one track mind. You prefer not to multitask.

You can be a big dramatic and over the top sometimes. You are bold in every way.

Saturday June 7 is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Someone needs to start lobbying Congress to get this day listed as a Federal Holiday so we can have the day off of work.

I have a special recipe planned -- milk chocolate ice cream with marshmallows.

It is difficult to find truly great milk chocolate. What is your favorite brand?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 2 - Happy Rocky Road Day!

I want to apologize for taking so long between posts recently. This week, life has been a bit more inconvenient than normal. Baby Fellow is very ill. As a result, my schedule has been chaotic. Things should be smoothed out soon.

In honor of National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day, I present you with my version of this classic. I did not have time to actually make it, but I know this recipe will work because it is the same ice cream as the Chocolate-Blueberry. The only difference is the add-ins, marshmallows and toasted almonds. Rocky Road does not require changing methods or fancy modern twists. This is a classic flavor that is best left untouched. Below is a copy of the worksheet for this ice cream. While it may appear that the MSNF is a bit low, do not fear. This ice cream base is not icy or lacking in flavor.

Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, known to some as Edy’s Grand, was the company that invented Rocky Road. One of the original partners, Joseph Edy, owned a candy shop that made Rocky Road bars. These confections were a combination of chocolate, marshmallows, and toasted almonds. William Dreyer, the other partner in the ice cream company, got the idea to replace the chocolate candy with chocolate ice cream. An American classic was born. This flavor continues to survive the test of time and be one of the most popular flavors in the USA. Some Rocky Road ice creams have chocolate chips in them. The original recipe does not use chips and I adhere to that policy. I would be inclined to add them, but my chocolate is so rich, that their flavor would be lost.

Incidentally, mini marshmallows were invented for Rocky Road ice cream. Prior to that, large marshmallows were cut with scissors into smaller pieces. This is very time consuming and sticky.

Keeping with my philosophy, I did not define the amount of marshmallows and almonds. Add-in quantities are totally within your control.

Rocky Road Ice Cream

2 cups cream
2 cups milk
¾ cup sugar
6 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
7 oz bittersweet chocolate cut into chunks
Toasted almonds

1. Combine the cream, milk, and ½ cup of the sugar in a saucepan and heat to a bare simmer stirring occasionally.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture turns pale yellow.
3. Coarsely chop the chocolate.
4. Once the cream mixture is at ready, remove it from the heat.
5. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cream, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
6. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Remove the pot from the heat. And add the chocolate. Stir until the contents are completely melted. If you are having problems getting the chocolate to melt, you may return the pot to the heat very briefly.
8. Stir in the vanilla extract
9. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
10. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.
11. The next day, freeze the custard in your ice cream machine. During the last minute of the freezing process, add the marshmallows and almonds.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Banana Pudding Ice Cream

Anyone who has been to a real barbecue joint knows about banana pudding. It is perhaps the most ubiquitous dessert in the South. One taste of the fresh bananas, pudding, and vanilla wafers with a topping of whipped cream and you will understand why it is so popular. Mrs. Fellow has been in a banana mood for a while so I thought it best to indulge her with some ice cream. This is a very basic recipe. It is easy to make and straightforward to follow which is why it is the perfect recipe to introduce my new worksheet.

I will still list ingredients the way I always have, but the work sheet requires switching to grams. So everything you see on the worksheet is the equivalent weight of the amount in the recipe. For example, 2 cups of cream weighs 475 grams. While this may sound like it is about to get very complicated, fear not this is easy to follow.

Successful ice cream is all about balance between fats and sugar and solids and water. Fats and sugar combine to give not only taste, but texture. The right proportions also contribute to stability. Before we look at the chart, I must admit to you that I fudged the sugar content a bit. The final product was not sweet enough so I added in some sugar after cooking and I upped the sugar content (from 19% to 25%) of the bananas because they were extremely ripe. PLease forgive the awful chart. This was imported as a .jpg file and it didn't turn out as pretty as I would have liked. Click the picture to view a bigger version of the sheet in a new window.

My ice cream is 13.69% fat and 15.95% sugar, which is close enough to what it should be for things to work. At 13% milkfat, the ice cream should have 15.5% sugar. At 14% milkfat, the ice cream should have 16% sugar. Where this falls down a bit is in the milk solids (MSNF). A correct homemade ice cream should have between nine and ten percent MSNF. Mine is obviously too low. What does MNSF do and what does this mean?

MSNF absorbs water. Too much MSNF and the lactose will crystallize. Too little, as in my case, and the finished product may be icy. My recipe came out just a tiny bit icy. Without trying it I can’t be absolutely certain, but I think if you increase the whole milk to 575 grams (about 2 1/3 cups) and remove 80 grams of banana the MSNF will increase to 4.72% and the problem should go away without drastically changing the taste. I listed the changes in red.

I did not define the amount of vanilla wafers. In general add-ins like these are should be left to your discretion. Overall, this ice cream is really good. Mrs. Fellow recanted her complaint about the iciness when I threatened to dispose of the batch. She is much more sensitive to texture than most people. So if she can live with it, I know you will like it.

Banana Pudding Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk (2 1/3 cups)
2 cups cream
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavor
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 bananas (4 to 4 ½ bananas)
Vanilla wafers

1. Pour the milk and cream and half of the sugar into a pot and bring to a slight simmer stirring occasionally.
2. As the milk and cream are heating, place the egg yolks into a bowl with the remaining sugar and salt. Beat until it is a pale, frothy liquid.
3. Once the milk/cream mixture is simmering, remove it from the heat and temper the egg mixture by adding a small amount of the hot milk/cream and stirring thoroughly. Repeat this process a couple of more times to ensure that the eggs have warmed up. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. 4. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
5. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Remove the pot from the heat. Strain into a bowl.
7. Mash the bananas. I used a potato masher, but you can do this in a blender, food processor, or food mill. Add the puree to the custard and stir well to incorporate. Also add the vanilla.
8. Cool the custard to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. Be sure to cover by putting plastic wrap directly on the ice cream. It is the air that oxidizes the bananas, turning them brown.
9. Freeze in your ice cream machine. During the freezing process, break up the vanilla wafers into bite sized pieces and incorporate them into the ice cream during the last minute of the freeze process.

Lets get technical

If you didn't catch the comment from James you should read it. He asks about incorporating air into the ice cream. I won't reiterate my response, you can read his question and my response here.

After my response, we went back and forth for a while through e-mail. I learned that he is using 10% milkfat and 12% sugar. This really better defines why he is having problems. Here in the USA, 10% milkfat is the minimum amount allowed in a frozen product to have it called ice cream. It is at this level of fat content that manufacturers pump air into their product to improve texture. Also, 12% sugar is too low for 10% milkfat. He should have 14% sugar. That will help some, but will really help him is increasing the fat content to 14 or 15%.

From these conversations, I realized that this fellow is doing it wrong. I do not show you the breakdowns of contents of my ice cream for fat, MSNF (milk solids non-fat), sugar, and other solids. So I have developed a spreadsheet based on the format given by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir in Frozen Desserts.

The banana ice cream recipe will be posted tomorrow. Starting with it, I will include a copy of this worksheet and a discussion of contributions of the various components to the overall flavor and texture of the finished product.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Update: The Next Flavor in Development

I want to thank Lauren, Phil, and Christoph for coming out to taste my ice cream today. Their comments were insightful. As an engineer I am a very technical person. I really appreciate when someone can point to specific details within my work that need improvement. I want meet with all interested ice cream eaters again, but it may not happen before the end of June.

In the meantime, I am not going to put up another poll for the next flavor. Mrs. Fellow wants a banana based ice cream. It will be either banana pudding or banana cream pie. After that, I'll probably put one up again. This one may take a bit of time to post because I am beholden to the banana ripening process, but I will get it our as fast as I can.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips and Blueberry-Port Wine Swirl

When I added this as a flavor for the survey I had no idea it would win. I honestly thought that some of the other flavors were more interesting. So I was taken by surprise when it won the poll. I didn’t have a clue on what to make. All I knew is that if I pureed the blueberries and mixed them into the chocolate, the resulting color would be less than appetizing.

Since this is chocolate blueberry and not the other way around, the base had to be chocolate. So I went dark. It seems that the anti-oxidant craze has caused enough of a stir that consumers demand darker chocolate. M&M Mars and Hershey have both introduced new versions of some of their best sellers using dark chocolate. So I thought I would too.

If you make a lot of ice cream, you know that most recipes for chocolate ask for Dutch processed cocoa powder. I have never had success using the powder. It requires a longer cook time in order to truly remove the powdery taste and texture. So I prefer to rough chop chocolate bars and melt them in the milk. Having made the jam first, it became obvious that the chocolate should be very rich. For the ice cream base I used a combination of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet and Theo 84% bittersweet because I had them on hand. Truthfully I find the Ghirardelli to be semi-sweet even though it is labeled as bittersweet, but the Theo bar more than makes up for this. The chocolate chunks are El Rey Apatame 73.5% (purchased at Whole Foods as a bar cut from a larger slab) which I chopped myself. You can use chocolate chips or chunks interchangeably. Whatever you decide, make sure that the chunks are at least as bittersweet as the base to avoid losing the flavor.

The swirl was made by the same method as the jam for the peanut butter ice cream except I added some port wine. The recipe below works really well if you intend to make a jam for more than just the ice cream. Unfortunately, once incorporated into the ice cream, the port flavor is pretty much lost. Next time I make the jam, I will make it “ice cream friendly” as opposed to “eat by itself friendly” and increase the port to at least one cup. Incidentally, I underestimated the berry ripeness. The original recipe was for the juice of half of a lemon and did not call for salt, but after tasting the finished product I need to add some ingredients to balance the sweetness of the jam. You may or may not need to add as much sugar, lemon juice, and/or salt. Also, as you can see from the picture I used Costco's house brand 10 year aged Tawny Port. You will do better with a less generic port. I felt that it was thin, too tannic, and lacked concentration.

For the Swirl:

18 oz blueberries
2 c sugar (adjust for berry sweetness)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt (optional)
½ cup tawny port

1. Rinse the berries.
2. Put the berries, sugar, port, and lemon juice and lemon zest into a saucepan. Stir frequently until the sugar becomes liquid.
3. Simmer this stuff for about 30 minutes. The temperature should eventually get to more than 224o F.
4. Remove from the heat and cool.

For the Chocolate Ice Cream:

2 cups cream
2 cups milk
¾ cup sugar
6 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
7 oz bittersweet chocolate cut into chunks (for the base)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate cut into small chunks to add during freezing.

1. Combine the cream, milk, and ½ cup of the sugar in a saucepan and heat to a bare simmer stirring occasionally.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Beat until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture turns pale yellow.
3. Coarsely chop the chocolate.
4. Once the cream mixture is at ready, remove it from the heat.
5. Temper the eggs by mixing in a small amount of the cream, stir thoroughly, and repeat three times. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
6. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Remove the pot from the heat. And add the chocolate. Stir until the contents are completely melted. If you are having problems getting the chocolate to melt, you may return the pot to the heat very briefly.
8. Stir in the vanilla extract
9. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
10. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.
11. The next day, freeze the custard in your ice cream machine. During the last minute of the freezing process, drop in spoonfuls of the jam and the chocolate chunks.