Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dulce de leche

This is adapted from a Gourmet magazine 2007 recipe, posted on NYTimes. I used their recipe to make my own dulce de leche, then used that to make the ice cream.

Dulce de leche is really easy to make but it takes several hours. It doesn't require constant vigilance, but you have to stir it occasionally.

Dulce de leche Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Chill and churn.

Now, my dulce de leche didn't turn out very thick, so I didn't heat up the milk and cream because the dulce de leche just stirred in right away. Then I could churn it without impatiently waiting for the mixture to cool down. But if your dulce de leche turns out really thick and caramelly, I'd heat up the milk.

Dulce de leche

1 quart milk, preferably whole, organic and as fresh as possible
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

In a large, heavy pan with tall sides, combine the milk and sugar. Split the vanilla bean along its length and scrape the seeds into the pot, then throw in the pod. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

When it has reached a simmer, remove from the heat and add the baking soda and water, stirring vigorously. When the mixture settles down, return the pan to the heat and bring to a brisk simmer. Simmer for about one hour, or until it turns golden brown. You don't have to stir - go about your business and keep an eye on it. I ended up cooking it for about 2 1/2 hours and it still never got as thick as they say it will. But it still tasted delicious.

After the milk mixture has changed to a deep golden brown check it more frequently. This is where you can decide just how dense and thick you want it to be. If you want it pourable, like caramel sauce, wait just until it reaches the consistency of maple syrup - about 20 minutes after the color change - and take it off the heat. Strain through a mesh strainer into a glass jar or container and let cool. Or, if you prefer a jam-like consistency to spread on toast, crackers, and anything else you can think of, let it cook longer. It will solidify into chewy candy if you cook it long enough.

I use this to sweeten my coffee, too. It's like a caramel vanilla latte only better because it's not artificially flavored.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gingersnap Ice Cream

Adapted from Check out Topics: Ice Cream for more recipes.

Instead of their vanilla custard base, I used the vanilla custard recipe in the Cuisinart Ice-20 booklet. I also halved the spices, since the Times recipe is for a larger ice cream maker.

I also added crushed Sha Sha Ginger Snap cookies and it was delicious. This ice cream gets better with every bite. It's gingery but with a very fresh ginger flavor, which is very different from powdered ginger.

The one problem I encountered was that I curdled the custard. I'm not sure why, but I think I let it get to hot when I was heating up the egg/milk mixture in step 4. It certainly didn't curdle when I was tempering the eggs. It might be that all the chunky spices encourage curdling, so I'd watch it like a hawk. I did save the custard by straining out all the curds, but I ended up with about 2/3 of the liquid I started with.

1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 cup milk
2 cups cream
2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
1/4 whole nutmeg, crushed
1 cracked cardamom pod, or a pinch of seeds
3 large egg yolks, 2 whole eggs
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark molasses

1. Bring small saucepan of water to boil. Add ginger, and blanch for 1 minute. Transfer ginger to large saucepan.

2. Add milk, cream, granulated sugar, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and cardamom to saucepan; bring to simmer (I roughly crushed up the spices with a mortar and pestle; you want to be able to strain them out at the end so your ice cream is smooth). Turn off heat; let spices infuse for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, yolks, brown sugar and molasses.

3. To make the base, bring milk mixture to a simmer and remove from heat. Add a little hot milk mixture to yolk mixture to warm it, stirring constantly to keep yolks from curdling. Pour yolk mixture into rest of hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.

4. Return custard to stove, and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until it thickens enough to coat back of spoon. Remove from heat, and strain custard through fine sieve. Chill until thoroughly cold, for at least 4 hours.

5. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

This could easily be made into chai ice cream by adjusting the spice ratio. Less ginger, much more cardamom; no nutmeg, molasses or brown sugar (use more white instead). And don't forget the black tea, of course!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Guiness Milk Chocolate

7 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Guinness Stout
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and instead of melting them in a double boiler, I melted them right in the milk. It took a while for it to dissolve, and in the end I strained the custard just to make sure there were no lumps.

The flavor is quite good, like chocolate ice cream with a little tang to it, and a slight yeastiness.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Semester Almost Over Almond Ice Cream

1 qt ice cream base
2 tsp almond extract
2/3 c roasted almonds, chopped or slivered

Add almond extract to ice cream base and freeze normally. Add almonds a couple minutes before the ice cream is finished. Make sure to chill the nuts after roasting.

I used the Eggless Base and Frontier almond extract, and the ice cream has a very strong almond flavor. It's one of my new favorites.

Eggless Ice Cream Base

3/4 c sugar
1/8 tsp guar gum
2 c heavy cream
1 c milk

Mix the guar gum and sugar and whisk gradually into the cream and milk. Transfer to ice cream maker and freeze according to maker instructions. Makes generous quart.

The great thing about this recipe is that it requires no cooking and you don't have to worry about raw eggs. Also I really like the smooth texture. Do not use more than 1/8 tsp guar gum - it's very potent, and the ice cream becomes gummy if you use too much.

Update: I've also been testing eggless versions of the older recipes and posting results in the comments. So far I've done Honey Pecan and Mexican Chocolate.