Photo by ArtsySF and used with her permission.

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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.