Posted in freezing

All Coconut All the Time Ice Cream

I have not yet taken pictures of this ice cream, but that’s no reason to deprive you of the recipe, which as far as I know, you will only find here.

Last summer, I made more ice creams than I told you about. Sorry. One of them was made solely and exclusively out of the following ingredients:

ingredients
Coconut milk and coconut sugar.

I had calculated that coconut milk – the regular kind, not light or anything – has just about the amount of fat that I like in my ice cream, somewhere around 18%, like light cream. It has a similar sugar content to the milk I have in my fridge, which is probably a little different from light cream, but close enough that I kept the amount of sugar roughly the same.

So I made ice cream thusly:

  • 1 can coconut milk (1 3/4 cups)
  • scant 1/2 cup coconut sugar (my rule for sugar is to divide your amount of milk by 4, by volume) (yes, you can use regular sugar if you’re not hell-bent on all coconut all the time)
  1. Dissolve sugar in milk, heating gently if necessary.
  2. Cool.
  3. Churn.
  4. Freeze.
(I think I actually used 2 full cups of coconut milk and a full half cup of sugar that time, hence the two cans.)
The texture was good.  The flavor was good until I caught something…strange.  Not really bad – people ate it – but not what I want my ice cream to taste like.  Sort of a cooked flavor.  The coconut sugar has a pleasant caramelly flavor, but I think it’s the coconut milk that’s to blame.
So I intended to try again with a different brand of coconut milk, but I misremembered which brand I used last time and did it over with the exact same one.  Haha.  But this time, I tasted the coconut milk and decided it was still going to add that funny flavor, so I fought back with:
  • the juice of half a lime
  • some vanilla extract
  • a dash of salt
It worked.  It still has a musky coconuttiness about it, but I liked the ice cream this time.  The lime was not detectable.  I suspect that even more lime juice would give an even yummier result, without compromising the texture too much.  I also suspect that the amount of sugar could be reduced a tad (indeed, most recipes I’ve looked up that use coconut  milk call for less sugar).
If you know your stuff about ice cream (and precious few people do, alas), you might wonder why I’m not using any sort of thickener to improve the texture.  That’s the beauty of canned coconut milk!  Not only does it have the right amount of fat, it also has guar gum already added to it to minimize the freaking out of Americans upon seeing their coconut milk separate.  Guar gum is the preferred thickener of the ice cream industry, and is made from a plant.  So this ice cream is really simple to make, and it’s vegan and dairy-free.  Now you understand why I’m so set on getting past this flavor issue, right?  I think if you add strong flavors to it you should be fine, and even if you don’t, coconut enthusiasts should enjoy this recipe with the splash of lime juice.
Things to try: chocolate coconut ice cream, lime coconut ice cream (don’t think I wasn’t singing “you put de lime in de coconut and shake it all up” while making this), pina colada ice cream, mango coconut ice cream.  Also, in the spirit of two-ingredient ice cream recipes, that ice cream made from banana and chocolate.  Bananas don’t usually excite me, but there are these chocolate chip banana bread muffins at a local coffee shop that are so amazing, I’m willing to give all banana-chocolate creations a try.
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Posted in baking, foam, freezing

Daring Baker Challenge: Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and
Baking
. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and
Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa
chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice
Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s
“The Perfect Scoop”.

The pdf with all the recipes is here.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

I had never browned butter before and was a little nervous about burning it, but it went fine.  I just put it all in the pan – didn’t even worry about cutting it up – and heated and stirred and heated and stirred until the milk solids turned brown.  Then got it out of that hot pan quick, because they get browner and browner really fast.

The annoying part is cooling the butter just enough to where it’s solid but soft for creaming with the sugar.  From there, it’s just a regular creaming method pound cake.  A breeze in my stand mixer :).

Cake and ice cream layers

Zabaglione Ice Cream

I thought a French vanilla would go well with the brown butter cake, and I looked through The Perfect Scoop for something like that but a little more exciting.  Enter zabaglione ice cream.  Zabaglione is a poured custard made with egg yolks, marsala wine, and sugar.  I adore it.  We used it in the DB tiramisu challenge.  But Lebovitz’s recipe says to use 1/2 cup of dry marsala for a 1 quart recipe (he just substitutes it in for 1/2 cup of the dairy), and that seemed like a lot.  Alcohol makes ice cream softer, and I wanted mine to stay frozen during the baking and flambeing, plus I wasn’t sure if my guests would love the flavor as much as I do; some people don’t go for it as much.  So I used 1/4 of a cup.  This is even less when you consider that I increased the recipe to make 1.5 quarts.  I still tasted it, though; I think it might have been a little overpowering if I had used as much as he said, but a little more would have been fine.

Besides that, I followed his recipe, egg yolks and all.  I found that when I use light cream, as I am wont to do instead of all heavy cream or Lebovitz’s mix of whole milk and heavy cream, the yolks don’t make it too fatty.  I had some freezing issues due to not having frozen my ice cream maker’s core early enough, so I couldn’t judge this ice cream very accurately, but I think it turned out pretty well.

Unbaked meringue on the first one
Baked meringue on the second one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meringue

I could make meringue in my sleep, which was good to know because I decided to wait until my guests had arrived to make it.  That was a Good Idea; I piped, baked, flambeed, and served one baked Alaska before doing the same to the next one, and in the meantime, the quality of the meringue had noticeably declined.  It was less satiny, starting to separate I guess.  But not too much – purely an aesthetic issue at that point.  Having the stand mixer do the beating for me made doing this mid-party less of a hassle.

I tried to do some pretty piping but I wanted to make sure to cover every little cranny since the meringue is an insulator for the ice cream, and that necessitated going over some spots multiple times.  But all in all, not too bad.

Don’t know how to make meringue?  Commit this to memory:

Beat room temperature egg whites with a few sprinkles of cream of tartar and cornstarch.  When they start to turn opaque, add sugar (1/4 cup or 60 g per white is customary for meringue shells; in this case, about half that much*) and keep beating.  Stop when they stick out pretty straight from the beater when you stop it and pull it out of the foam.

There, now you can make meringue in your sleep, too.

*1/4 cup or 60g per white is twice as much sugar per egg white by either volume or weight.  This recipe used slightly less than an equal weight of egg whites and sugar.  It was a nice amount.

Bake

Heat up the broiler and put the Alaska under it for five minutes.  My ice cream was definitely starting to melt at this point, which didn’t matter since my Alaskas were so horizontal, but one of those tower-type ones might have had trouble.

Flambeing

Flambe

I was kind of afraid to flambe them, because I had never done it before, but it’s so easy.  Just pour a little alcohol – at least 40% abv, I think; I used cognac – into a pan, heat it until it just starts to bubble, pour it on the dessert, and light it with a long match.  I had better luck lighting the pan of alcohol, actually, and then poured the flaming alcohol onto the dessert.  It sounds dangerous, but it went fine.  It looks really cool if you turn out the lights.

This part is unnecessary and actually not traditional for baked Alaska; mine were technically bombe Alaska because I did this.  But it makes a great show! And the leftover booze that soaked in tasted good.

Posted in freezing

The Summer of Ice Cream II: Cookies and Cream, twice

Don’t know why it took me so long to post this…

cookies and cream
Lower fat version on the left, higher fat on the right. The color difference is because I used different brands of cream.

You, lucky reader, are about to be let in on The Secret of Ice Cream.  It’s not in The Perfect Scoop (which I own and read, of course).  It’s not on foodgawker (my constant companion).  It’s in books like The Science of Ice Cream and The Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering.  It’s hardcore science that will make your ice cream soft.

The reigning messiah of ice cream, David Lebovitz (author of The Perfect Scoop, reigning ice cream bible) distinguishes between two kinds of ice cream: Philadelphia style and French style.  The former is based on cream and sugar while the latter adds to these egg yolks.  He gives a recipe for Philadelphia style ice cream but warns us that it will be icier than the French style.  What he doesn’t say is that there are other options.

It makes perfect sense, actually.  Ice cream aside, what are egg yolks used for?  Thickening and emulsifying things.  But they’re far from the only ingredients used for these purposes.  For thickening, you can use any of dozens of kinds of starches and gums, as well as gelatin and pectin.  (There are other chemicals that emulsify as well, but I don’t worry about that – yet, anyway.)  So it’s no coincidence that you can use all of these things to improve the texture of your ice cream, too.  But gelatin, pectin, and gums are needed in smaller amounts than egg yolks and starches, and lack the fat of egg yolks (it’s not a health thing, I swear – I just think an overly fatty ice cream isn’t as delicious), so I’d rather use them.

Unfortunately, ice cream scientists seem not to be very gossipy, so no one is helping me get the secret out, and as a result, there are precious few recipes to go on.  So, I took Lebovitz’s Philly Vanilla recipe and added an envelope of gelatin to it (and a row of Oreos, because I had been craving cookies and cream ice cream for at least a month).  It came out too thick for my taste, so I tried again with slightly less gelatin and light cream in place of heavy cream (I didn’t use his option of using part milk in either case), and it came out better, but ever so slightly too icy.  The experiments will have to continue, but my hunch is that more fat is not what’s needed.  Rather, more sugar or even more milk protein (which I could add in the form of nonfat milk powder) may be the key.  Or the full envelope of gelatin.  Or a different thickener (I’m considering ordering some guar gum).  I just try to see all these questions and the batches of ice cream they necessitate as the silver lining to the ridiculous heat wave we’ve been having here in Massafrickingchusetts, of all places.  I expect these temperatures in Florida, but in Florida I have air conditioning!

Posted in baking, foam, freezing, infusion, thickening

Daring Baker Challenge: Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

A slice
My guests thought it was just chocolate and vanilla, but you know me better than that.

The recipe is available here.
I’ll be honest, I thought this dessert was going to be too much.  I had to pick flavors for four components, plus have a fudge sauce.  But I tried to pick things that wouldn’t clash, and I think it turned out really well.  The subtleties probably didn’t come through, because you tend to eat it all together, but it tasted good together, and that’s what matters, right?

So, this dessert had five parts.

1. Sponge cake – I tried making it first by whipping the egg yolks and egg whites separately, folding the flour and water into the yolks, folding part of the whites into the yolks, and then adding all of the yolk mixture to the whites.  This worked well and it worked FAST, especially because my eggs were pretty old.  Then I tried it with brand new eggs, whipping whole eggs.  I can’t say whether it was the fact that they were whole or the fact that they were new or both, but they definitely took a lot longer to whip.  Eventually, though, they did, and although I had the impression they didn’t end up as airy as the first batch, the cakes were basically identical in the end.  It is important to grease your parchment paper – something I’ve never had to do before – because this cake will stick to everything, and it’s too thin (thin enough to bake in a jellyroll pan, that’s the kind with short sides) to afford losing a layer to the parchment. Because it’s so thin, it cooks fast.  In my overzealous oven, I consistently cooked them for 8 minutes each.

I flavored my cake by using brown sugar instead of white (actually I kept a little white sugar in there, but I doubt it matters).  When it came out of the oven, it smelled like French toast.  Yummmm.  I substituted cake flour for the cocoa powder in the recipe – all the flour I used was cake flour.

By the way, does anyone know why the recipe says to have the water boiling?  I don’t see why that matters, but I did it just to be safe.

2. Filling – I made whipped cream with brown sugar instead of white, and added some ground cassia/Saigon cinnamon.  I once impatiently put the filling on the cake before letting the cake cool, and the cake soaked it all up.  You really do have to let the cake cool first.  I don’t know how important it is to roll the cake while it’s warm to make it roll without breaking later, but I always did.  I didn’t use a towel, since my kitchen towels are of questionable cleanliness. I never had any trouble with the cake breaking from rolling or unrolling it, but I did have trouble getting the cake to roll tightly enough to be pretty but not so tightly as to squeeze out the filling.  I ended up rolling as best I could, slicing, and then unrolling and rerolling each slice.  Messy, annoying, but got the job done.  I think the trick, if there is one, has to do with getting an even layer of the filling on the cake.  Mine seemed to have more towards the middle, which made my outer slices badly shaped.

The slices of the resulting Swiss roll were pressed into a bowl (which was covered in plastic wrap) to line the sides, and this was put in the freezer.

Cake and Ice Cream #1
About halfway there.

3. Ice Cream #1 – I made Mexican Hot Chocolate ice cream, loosely based on David Lebovitz’s Aztec Hot Chocolate recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  I believe in making dairy-based ice creams with light cream, around 18% fat (I calculated that this makes an ice cream with the same fat, solid, and water content as a formula I found for premium ice cream), so I did that, and the recipe went like this:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

3 cups light cream

5 Tbsp cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

2 oz chile flavored chocolate, chocolate

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

1 Tbsp cognac

1 small dried red chile pepper, chopped and with seeds removed (I got this from my farmshare and don’t know what it should be called, but it is HOT)

Heat cream, sugar, pepper, and cocoa powder until boiling.  Remove from heat and add everything else.  Strain.  Chill.  Churn.  Freeze.

I didn’t know if it would be too hot or not hot enough, but I think it turned out just right if you like it mild.  You could tell something interesting was going on, but it wasn’t at all bothersome.  People who like spicy food would want more heat, though.  I think having it cold and with all that dairy definitely tones it down – I got more spice out of it when I tasted it pre-churning.I thought it was delicious.  In any case, I think it’s one of my new favorite flavors.

Out of the bowl
If I were more into crafty baking, I would totally make one of these to look like a turtle.

4. Ice Cream #2 – I chose hazelnut for this one.  I bought some hazelnuts, skinned them – I found out through on OChef that boiling them in a quart of water with 4 Tbsp of baking powder for about 3 minutes makes this really easy, I was so thankful – baked them at about 200F for about 10 minutes or 15 minutes, and then tried to grind them into butter.  That failed, so I infused my light cream (actually, this time I used half heavy cream and half whole milk, which is approximately the same) with the ground hazelnuts (and sugar) and then strained it.  This time, since I wasn’t adding alcohol, which makes ice cream softer, I added gelatin, which also keeps ice cream from freezing too solid, though in its own, gelatiny way.  In the past I’ve used a whole packet of gelatin for this much ice cream, and half a packet for 2/3 this much ice cream, and both times thought it was a little much.  So I tried half a packet, but I forgot to bloom it in some of the liquid kept cold, so I just stirred it into the hot liquid, and I don’t know if that keeps it from working, but it didn’t seem to have any effect.  The texture of the ice cream was great, but gelatin keeps ice cream from melting into a puddle and this ice cream melted like crazy, so I’m skeptical that it was really doing its job. I also used a little more sugar because my lower-gelatin batch before seemed not quite soft enough and perhaps not quite sweet enough.  I looked at Lebovitz’s Gianduja Gelato recipe to see about infusing the cream with the nuts, but other than that this is my own recipe.  If I can figure out how to make hazelnut butter I’ll have an even more original one for you – I’ve done the math to match that premium ice cream formula again, but alas, my grinders just aren’t cooperating.

Hazelnut Ice Cream

3 cups light cream

7/8 cup sugar (that’s 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp)

150 g ground hazelnuts

1 pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 envelope of gelatin (about 4g)

Bloom gelatin in some of the cream.  Heat the rest of the cream, sugar, salt, and hazelnuts.  Remove from heat and add gelatin and vanilla, whisking well.  Strain.  Chill.  Churn.  Freeze.

These ice creams were poured into the bowl on top of the frozen Swiss rolls.  I let the first freeze before churning and adding the second.

Complete
At first I was just drizzling the sauce on top, but then I said what the hell.

5. Fudge Sauce – I cheated.  I’m sorry.  Please let me stay in the club.  I was supposed to put the fudge sauce in between the layers of ice cream, but I’m sorry, that is not the purpose of fudge sauce.  Fudge sauce it to be added hot on top of cold ice cream.  So that’s what I did.  I poured it on top of the whole ice cream cake.

I also wasn’t very excited about a fudge sauce based on water thickened with cornstarch.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes that was simply sweetened condensed milk and unsweetened chocolate, with a little salt and vanilla.  (It also had water, but I omitted that – I wanted it nice and thick.)  That sounded more like it me, so that’s what I made.  It was thoroughly enjoyed.

Posted in freezing

Summer of Ice Cream I: Lemon Lavender Sorbet

I have big plans for my ice cream maker this summer.  I gave my friends a list of flavors I wanted to make and they told me what they’d help me eat.  My first opportunity came at a barbecue.  Everyone brought fresh, summery food, so I tried to match the dinner with a lemon lavender sorbet.  I wanted to try the same in an ice cream, but my friend is allergic to dairy, and sorbet is certainly fresh and summery.

I adapted a recipe from Art is the Handmaid of the Human Good, and that recipe was adapted from Cuisinart.  It’s a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar by volume, in this case, 2 cups) plus a cup and a half of lemon juice.

straining out the zest and lavender
Yellow and purple are complementary colors, y'know.

I flavored the simple syrup by putting a tablespoon of lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of dried lavender in the syrup while I was heating it.  I didn’t let it boil, because high heat kills volatile flavors, and the sugar dissolved before it boiled.  I let the syrup cool with the zest and lavender still in it, and then strained it before adding a combination of frozen lemon juice (from the last time I made limoncello) and fresh lemon juice.

Then you just put it in the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes, and then put it in the freezer.

the syrup in the ice cream maker
Just starting to churn it.

It was good, but a little too sweet.  I love lemon, but the flavor seems different when it’s combined with too much sugar.  Like a lemon drop.  That was one of my issues with limoncello for a while.  I think the recipe could stand a decrease in the amount of sugar; you have to be careful doing that because the same recipe with less sugar will freeze harder, but this sorbet was quite soft and melted really fast, so I think it would be fine.  I also didn’t pick up too much lavender flavor.  Maybe there’s a better way to extract the flavor.  Marianne at the blog I got the recipe from used lavender sugar, but I imagine it takes a while for the sugar to pick up the flavor.  I do think this recipe has just the right amount of lemon flavor in it, assuming you are a big fan of lemon.

By the way: I juiced four lemons for this recipe, but I only used the zest from two.  So, on the advice of America’s Test Kitchen, I zested the other two lemons (before juicing them) and put the zest in a baggie in the freezer.  They said it will keep its flavor when frozen, but not when refrigerated.

finished sorbet

Posted in custard, freezing

French vanilla

Ice cream churning in my ice cream machine.
Ice cream churning in my ice cream machine.

I’ve tried making ice cream a few times before, but it’s always come out too hard.  Probably because I never have whole milk around so I’d cheat and use low fat.  This time I had plenty of whole milk around because I thought I’d need a lot more of it for the melktert, so the other day I made ice cream and yogurt.  I used a recipe from The Book on ice cream, which is called The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.  It’s just his basic vanilla, the custard (French) version.  The egg yolks make it yellow.  It came out quite soft – it took a long time for it to get hard at all, and when it did it was still easily scoopable.  The crystals are a little big for an ice cream connoisseur, but I imagine that’s what you get if you use a basic ice cream machine like mine.  I think the flavor is great.  My friends appreciated it.

I do think the fat content in this ice cream is a little high.  That’s how it got to be so creamy, of course, but I think it gets in the way of the flavor.  In order to keep it creamy without so much fat, I’d need more sugar or some other solute that would lower the freezing point of water.  Such as…alcohol.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you can probably guess what kind I’d use.  I’ll let you know when I try it. I also want to try some wackier ice cream flavors, like balsamic vinegar (less crazy than you’d think, since people do pour it over their ice cream sometimes) and something involving blue cheese.