Photo by ArtsySF and used with her permission.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream

So, for reasons I won't get into right now, I made two cheesecakes, four caramel sauces, two fruit purees, and two flavored whipped creams last week. After eating six pieces of cheesecake with every possible combination of sauces I settled on what I liked. The problem was what to do with the remaining sauces and fruit purees. Of course I had to turn to ice cream.

This isn't a hard one to make, but it does take a lot of steps. Mix caramel, reduced balsamic vinegar, strawberry puree, and vanilla ice cream and bing bang boom you have a truly great result. Mrs. Fellow's one spoonful turned into a bowl's worth. It perfectly balances the flavors of every component. You can taste each flavor and yet they combine to create something entirely new.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberry-Balsamic-Caramel

    Make some Caramel Sauce
    Make some vanilla ice cream (either 13 EGG or the CLASSIC)

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Don't bother with white or expensive balsamic vinegars. This is a frozen dessert, the taste will be masked by your tongue. Any supermarket brand will do. I used the one sold at Costco. If you insist putting an expensive balsamic vinegar in the ice cream, go ahead, just skip this step. Real $100+ balsamic vinegars are superior products and do not need the be reduced very much, if at all.

    1 cup balsamic vinegar

  1. Put the balsamic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the reduction is so thick that you can run a spoon over the bottom and leave a temporary trail. When it cools it should be like syrup. If it isn’t, heat it again and keep going. You should have less than half a cup.

  2. BE SURE TO DO THIS IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA. Otherwise, your house may smell like vinegar for a while.

Strawberry Puree:

You may need to adjust the sweetness of the berries, but be careful to minimize the amount of sugar you use. Remember that you will be adding caramel to the puree so the sweetness can get overpowering if you aren't careful. If I were pureeing strawberries for other reasons, I would probably add a bit of lemon juice for acid. This is not necessary here because the reduced vinegar will take care of the acid component.

    2 pints of strawberries, stems and leaves removed
    1/4 cup water
    1/4 cup sugar

  1. Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until boiling. Simmer until berries are soft (about five minutes).

  2. Put the ingredients of the sauce in a blender and puree. Be careful and hold the lid on tight when blending hot things.

  3. Pour the contents of the blender through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.

To make the Strawberry-Balsamic Caramel:

Two things will jump out at you about this sauce. First, is that it won't be as thick as caramel, even when refrigerated. Don't worry, it works in the final product. Second, the color is dark. Balsamic does that. Don't worry, it makes a dramatic contrast to the vanilla ice cream.

  1. Mix one cup of the strawberry puree with 3/4 cup of the caramel and 2 tablespoons of the balsamic reduction. You may find this easier to do if the caramel is warm.

  2. Cool (if necessary), then refrigerate until cold.

Putting it all together:

  1. After you make the ice cream, place about 1/3 of the finished product in the container. Spread out a layer of the caramel.

  2. Repeat for the next 2/3 of the ice cream alternating with layers of the caramel.

  3. Put the full container in the freezer for an hour or so to firm everything.

Monday, January 4, 2010

13 Egg Vanilla

Unlucky thirteen. Actually, thirteen is very lucky for your mouth in this ice cream.

Before we get too far into this let me address one important issue - use of vanilla beans. This fellow is not abandoning his philosophy that vanilla extract is all that is necessary for great vanilla ice cream. If you recall from one of my earliest posts, I talked about the value of vanilla extract and how it is the real flavoring behind nearly every vanilla ice cream you will ever eat. I stand by that statement. There really isn't a need to ever use vanilla beans when making ice cream; however, I had some sitting around, so I put them to work.

This recipe is an adaptation from Ann Amernick's "The Art of Dessert." With the exception of the eggs and flavorings, Ms. Amernick's recipe uses the base that I favor the most - 2 cups of milk and cream and 3/4 cup of sugar. When it comes to eggs, she asks for 225 grams of egg yolks, which she says is 11 - 12 eggs. In order to get there, I needed 13 yolks. I suggest you use the same amount and forget about the scale. There is no reason to really measure to the gram. She is pastry chef and is used to working in metric volumes because baking is science and requires a degree of precision that is not necessary in ice cream. So please use your baker's dozen of egg yolks and enjoy the most unctuous of vanilla ice cream.

Her book is fantastic, Ms. Amernick is certainly an artisan to be admired. I made the complete recipe for the Apple Marmalade Sandwiches with Cranberry Coulis and Vanilla Caramel Ice Cream. The results were well received, although Mrs. Fellow thought it too orangey for her taste. I would make it again in a second. Unfortunately, something about her methodology for making ice cream prevented me from completely following her recipe.

Her recipe calls for the cream and milk to be brought to a boil, then removed from the heat. The eggs are tempered and whisked into the milk and cream. From what I have read and my own experiences, when the milk and cream comes to a boil, the fat separates from the liquid and cannot be reincorporated. The result is bad. So I opted to follow my usual method of heating.

I won't go into the details of this recipe too much. the ingredient list is as follows:

2 cups whole milk
2 cups cream
13 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

If you read my blog regularly, than you know how to make custard. If not, refer to my vanilla ice cream post. The main difference in the methodology is that the vanilla bean is split and scraped, then added to the milk and cream. Leave the bean in the ice cream until it is strained through the sieve.