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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.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Chocolate Blueberry won hands down. Look for the recipe later this week. As for those of you who have generously agreed to sacrifice your taste buds for the good of the team, an e-mail will be going out soon to discuss how we can meet.

If you haven't clicked over to Ice Cream Ireland, you really should. Here is a link to his recipe for Blue Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Ice Cream. I know sounds strange, but I would like to taste it. It makes me want to try out my recipe for Camembert Ice Cream.

A quick review -- Mrs. Fellow's favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor is Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, but she thinks they have changed the flavor. The cookies have a brighter citrus flavor than in the past. She still likes it, but may demote it from the number one spot. I wonder if there have been changes to other B&J flavors. Does anyone know?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sad News

The ice cream world has lost one of its 20th century pioneers. Irvine Robbins, co-founder of Baskin-Robbins passed away on Monday at the age of 90. His obituary appears in the LA Times.

It was reported that he started each day with a bowl of cereal topped with a scoop of banana ice cream. I would like to think that was his secret to living to 90.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


This is a very busy week for me. I probably will not be able to post a new recipe until next week. So I extended the voting until 11:59pm on Saturday.

Some changes are coming. I plan to start taking pictures. Also in the works is a contest. It may be a while before it starts, but keep your eyes out for something fun.

I have collected a list of Ice Cream holidays from around the Internet. I'll do my best to present a recipe that matches each holiday. First up is National Rocky Road Day on June 2 which is followed closely by National Chocolate Ice Cream Day on June 7.

Lastly, a couple of brave souls have come forward to taste my ice cream, but I am still seeking a few more volunteers. It won't cost you a thing except for a littl ebit of time. All I ask is that you give me your honest opinion. Contact me at

Friday, May 2, 2008

Jack and Ginger Ice Cream

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.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


You voted and it was a three-way tie. Mrs. Fellow broke the tie by choosing Jack and Ginger. I have mixed it, and am now letting the flavors meld. I'll report on the final product late tomorrow.

I updated the peanut butter ice cream recipe. The large quantity of peanut butter makes the ice cream very hard when it has been in the freezer for a couple of days. You must take it out and let it warm up a bit so it is softer before serving.

Speaking of the peanut butter ice cream, I had extra jam left over from the recipe. Mrs. Fellow asked me to bake a couple of pies for a birthday party at her work. I made two, 2.5 pound strawberry-rhubarb pies with walnut streusel. To accompany it, I whipped up a batch of strawberry ice cream and incorporated the remaining jam during the freezing process. It may seem like strawberry overload, but the pies were intentionally left less sweet. The combination of the pies' tartness with the sweet ice cream and the even sweeter jam was sensational.

I am still looking for local people who want to eat some free ice cream. If you live in the Atlanta area e-mail me at

Now for two recommendations:
If you have not checked out PastryGirl's blog, Dessert First, you really should. She has great recipes for all things sweet.

If you watch Top Chef on Bravo, then you are familiar with Chef Richard Blais. Mrs. Fellow and I have been big fans of his from the time of his first restaurant, the self-titled Blais. His new home is Home Restaurant and Bar which has been open for about a week and a half as of this writing. We missed him at the now defunct Element, which closed while he was recording Top Chef. The Fellow Family had moved out of state for a few years. Prior to last weekend it had been a while since we had enjoyed his food. It was great see how Chef Blais has matured. The main courses and appetizers were incredible. The crab cake that won him immunity on an early episode of Top Chef is on the menu and delicious. I have one criticism -- the desserts seem like an afterthought. I confess to really enjoying the sweet tea ice cream, but the pecan cake that accompanied it tasted like run-of-the-mill coffee cake. Still, I highly recommend checking it out if you are in Atlanta. You won't be disappointed.

Chef Blais, should you read my blog, I am available to consult on your desserts. Although I may seem like a simple ice cream man, I am actually an accomplished amateur baker too.