The inspiration for this ice cream comes from Bluepoint Restaurant in Atlanta. I was excited to see it on the menu because I used to drink Jack Daniels and ginger ale when I lived in Greensboro, NC. Who doesn’t love to find a happy piece of their past in an unexpected place? I thought the pastry chef did a decent job, but it lacked true Jack and Ginger flavor. In fairness, the flavor was probably subdued because it just one component of an apple dessert.
In doing the research for this recipe I found a lot of conflicting information about how to make a ginger flavored base. One book, Frozen Desserts, insisted that ginger would curdle milk because it is too acidic. The author's recommendation was to make a 5:4 simple syrup and steep it with ginger. Pichet Ong echoed that sentiment in his book, The Sweet Spot, where he cooks the ginger in the simple syrup until it reduces and becomes sticky. In The Perfect Scoop, Dave Lebovitz suggests blanching the ginger before steeping it in the milk. And Emily Luchetti (A Passion for Ice Cream) and Bruce Weinstein (The Ultimate Ice Cream Book) simply put the ginger in the milk/cream. So many choices, what is a fellow to do?
I chose to make the simple syrup for a couple of reasons. First, this ice cream is modeled off of Jack Daniels and Ginger Ale. Ginger ale is basically flavored carbonated simple syrup. I didn’t want to have to mess with the carbonation so making the syrup myself seemed like the way to go. Also, by using the syrup, I can control how much ginger flavor I add to the ice cream. If I steep the ginger in the base, I could lose that control. I used a 1:1 water to sugar syrup because Ginger ale is sweet. The 5:4 water to sugar mentioned in Frozen Desserts is less sweet and what I would try if I wanted accent the ginger’s sharpness.
I ended up using all the syrup and still finding that it needed more ginger flavor. A pinch of salt didn’t help so that is why there is the addition of the powdered ginger. Now that I have the recipe figured out, it would be easier to incorporate the powdered ginger when you mix the eggs in step 4. Powdered ginger is similar to cinnamon and tends to clump (although not as badly). By mixing it with the eggs you won’t have that problem. The reason I did not write the recipe that way is to give you more control over the flavor. You may use a stronger powdered ginger or have different fresh ginger, which would affect the syrup’s taste. Adding the ginger components after the custard is heated allows you to adjust the taste to your palate.
You will notice that this recipe is different than most of my ice cream recipes. I increased the ratio of eggs to cow products but only made about half as much. As with all ice cream recipes, you can double this one without issue.
I really made this out of season. To serve I would suggest pairing it with apple, pecan, or pumpkin pie. All of which lend themselves to Thanksgiving more than the springtime. You may also want to think about caramel sauce. Incidentally, this recipe is very close to being a good eggnog ice cream. Simply replace the ginger with the spices you like in your eggnog.
Jack and Ginger Ice Cream:
1 cup water
1 ¼ cup + 2 TBL sugar
3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and rough chopped
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt
½ tsp powdered ginger
2 TBL + 1 TSP Jack Daniels
1. Place the water, 1 cup of sugar, and the ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes.
2. Pour the milk and cream and ¼ 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 into a bowl with the remaining 2 TBL of sugar 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.
7. Strain the simple syrup to remove the ginger pieces
8. Stir the syrup, powdered ginger, and Jack Daniels into the custard.
9. Cool the custard to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
10. Freeze in your ice cream machine. Warning -- the alcohol and the fairly high concentration of sugar slows the freezing process. After 30 minutes or so in your ice cream machine you may find that it is still very soft. Ripen this one the freezer for at least 24 hours to get a better texture before serving.