Thursday, May 22, 2014

Any requests?

Lately, I've been wanting to make more ice cream than my household should eat. Fortunately I've found a system* that keeps the ice cream cold for several hours without a freezer, so I can now bring small amounts of ice cream to work for an early afternoon dessert.

So... If you have a request or suggestion, please tell me or add it as a comment on the following page:

I can't promise anything, but I'll seriously consider each request. Bribes of dark chocolate, low-sodium tasties, or funny stories will help move your request to the top!

*The system

When I'm just taking ice cream to someone's house, I put it in a "Keep Cool" insulated, zippered shopping bag, along with 2 or 3 freezer packs.

The one time (so far) I took ice cream to work, I put it in a paper pint container and froze it inside this smaller bag:

Purchased at The Marketplace in Alameda

The next morning I put that bag inside the "Keep Cool" bag, with a couple of ice packs. When I got to work, I took out the little bag and put it in the fridge.

By 1 or 1:30 when we had the ice cream (super lemon, by the way, with chunky raspberry sauce; yum!), the ice cream was the perfect consistency. Usually it's too hard after a day in the freezer, but its time in a freezer bag in a fridge did it good.

If you have suggestions for better ways to transport ice cream—and to keep it cold for hours without a freezer (and maybe even without a refrigerator), please let me know! I usually take a bus and then walk a couple of blocks to work, so any solution has to be compact, relatively lightweight, and not too conspicuous. No ice chests on wheels, thank you very much!

This little bag can carry 2 pints.

Monday, May 19, 2014

David Lebovitz at Google

I missed him again!

David Lebovitz was at Google Mountain View last week, but I didn't know about it. Until now. Argh.

DL @ building 44, 1 block from where I often squat 

Peanut butter and jam ice cream

If you love peanut butter cookies, you'll love peanut butter ice cream. Mixing in jam is optional (but yummy). Mixing in chocolate would probably be just as great; I plan to test that theory soon.

The peanut butter ice cream mix was easy to make and required no cooking. You just measure out a few ingredients and then whir them up in a food processor or blender. (A blender would probably be better, since the volume is a bit much for a food processor; spillage occurred.) I bet the mix would be cold enough to churn after an hour in the fridge, but I didn't have time that night.

The next morning, I whisked the mix (it seemed to have separated a bit, with the solid stuff at the top) and then churned it for a little more than 20 minutes.

After the initial whisking, the mix was fairly liquid.

After 20 minutes, the ice cream was setting up well.

As I put the ice cream into its container, I layered it with raspberry preserves.

Adding the J to the PB

Then Nathan and I proceeded to devour what stuck to the churner, adding little bits of raspberry jam. So delicious! I'd made the ice cream to eat with friends that night, but at points during the day I obsessed about when I could taste the peanut buttery goodness again.

Interestingly, the ice cream seemed to melt very quickly. Usually whatever sticks to the churning blade doesn't turn liquid for a while, but this was liquefying and dripping off quickly. You could also see some ice cream melting in the container. I'd chilled the container, but chilling the raspberry jam might have helped avoid that melting.

The Perfect Scoop generally recommends using a non-"natural" peanut butter, since the natural ones separate, but I haven't had a problem using "natural" peanut butter for the two recipes I've tried, so far.

Trader Joe's creamy unsalted peanut butter + Bonne Maman raspberry preserves

Update (May 22)

I made some plain, no-jam peanut butter ice cream yesterday. Yet again, I made a mess. I had put less half and half in the food processor, and that was fine, but when I tried to add the rest and briefly process it... mess. Next time, I'll just pour the processed mix into a bowl and whisk in the remaining half and half.

As we suspected, this ice cream tastes great with chocolate sauce. It's not at all like a Reese's, though; it's just two flavors that complement each other. It tasted a lot like the chocolate-peanut butter ice cream recipe I made before, which was yummy. Still, next time I make the peanut butter ice cream, I might try mixing in pieces of soft chocolate (ganache?).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Banana-walnut ice cream

It's been wicked hot in the bay area, so I made midweek ice cream—not my usual routine.

Today's recipe is roasted banana ice cream, with walnuts added. I'd made a vegan version of the roasted banana recipe earlier, but I didn't like it and wanted to try the original recipe someday. Someday became now when my son specifically asked me to make banana ice cream next. He wanted walnuts, like in Chunky Monkey, so I mixed those in. Good idea.

Toasted walnuts cooling

To start off, despite the heat I roasted some bananas with butter and brown sugar. They smelled nice but didn't fill up the house with a big, delicious fragrance like the vegan version did. I thought of a few possible reasons for the roasting vegan bananas' stronger smell:
  1. The vegan roasting mix used vanilla (and lots of it—a tablespoon, to be precise).
  2. The vegan mix was more exposed, since it was in a flat pan, rather than a baking dish.
  3. The vegan recipe used more bananas.
#1 is probably the biggest reason. A web search for [heating vanilla] turned up loads of pages about using vanilla to get rid of household odors. (Don't bother searching for vanilla heat; it gives results for a coffee creamer that tastes like Red Hots. Ew.) However, the vanilla probably was mostly wasted in the ice cream—usually you avoid heating vanilla too much, since it tends to break down. 

Back to bananas: After roasting for 40 minutes, the banana mixture looked and smelled delicious—golden and bubbly. I blended it with the remaining ingredients until they were smooth, and put everything in the fridge for churning the next day. Interestingly, this recipe calls for milk and a little butter, but no eggs, half and half, or cream. I guess the bananas provide plenty of body.

I churned for an average amount of time, adding walnuts for the last few minutes, and the ice cream set up nicely.

Good consistency, right out of the churner

The taste was nice and banana-y, but a little one-note if you didn't eat it with the walnuts. Still, Nate & I managed to thoroughly clean off the stuff that clung to the side and bottom of the churner. We tried the ice cream with marshmallow sauce (meh) and with chocolate sauce (yum!).

Great with lean chocolate sauce

Banana isn't my favorite ice cream flavor, but I'd certainly make it again if someone asked me to. David Lebovitz has another recipe that I might try next time. Besides bananas, it uses coconut milk and an exotic sugar called jaggery. (Anyone know a good source for jaggery?)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rum raisin ice cream (twice)

This week I made two batches of rum raisin ice cream, for a couple of reasons:
  • My husband came home late, craving a bit of ice cream, only to find out that my son had finished off batch #1.
  • Batch #1's raisins were overly boozy, to my taste, so I wanted to try again, this time soaking the raisins for only as long as it took the milk-sugar-egg mix to chill.
Note: The booziness of the raisins did not disturb my husband or son, in the least. I, however, thought the rum in the batch #1's raisins overwhelmed the gentle rum flavor of the ice cream.

Soaking the raisins for 2 days made a little of batch #1 go a long way.

Both batches used The Perfect Scoop's recipe, but batch #1 followed a very relaxed schedule, which resulted in the raisins soaking in rum for almost two days. I'd read a recommendation somewhere that 3 days of soaking was even better, but wow do I disagree.

For batch #2, I started making the raisins and the milk-sugar-egg mix at 9 a.m., and the mix was in the fridge before 9:30. I meant to churn it that afternoon, but it ended up happening the next morning. However, I did stop soaking the raisins that afternoon.

The recipe has you pour off the liquid from the raisins and then add rum, if necessary, to get 3 tablespoons of rum to flavor the mix. Adding rum was necessary for both batches. For batch #1, only about 4 teaspoons (1-1/3 tablespoons) poured off the raisins. It made for an incredibly yummy ice cream mix, though. For batch #2, I still had to add rum, but not as much—the ratio of pure rum to rummy juice was more or less reversed.

Batch #2's rum-raisin juice mixture

Both batches took much longer than usual to start freezing because of the alcohol in the rum. I churned both batches until they were to soft-soft serve consistency, then mixed in the raisins, which softened the mixture further. I might have churned for up to 40 minutes and the ice cream never clumped; usually I churn for 20 minutes and the ice cream has started sticking to the container.

After 24 hours in the freezer, batch #1 had a very nice consistency—solid yet creamy and easy to scoop out with a regular spoon.

After 24 hours in the freezer, batch #1 set up nicely.

However, the raisins were so incredibly rum-filled, I couldn't taste the ice cream. Boo.

Batch #2 was more balanced, although my son thought the ice cream itself tasted boozier. Perhaps that's because the raisins didn't overwhelm it, or because the ice cream had less raisin juice in the rum mix, due to the shorter soaking time.

Batch #2 was scoopable but still very soft after a few hours.

The upshot: I'm not a big fan of raisins, but this was a good recipe. I might try it again, soaking the raisins for 2 days but not including them in the ice cream. The raisins (and maybe some toasted pecans) could instead be on the side for people to add.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Me and David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is on a book tour, and he made an appearance yesterday at Fog City News, one of my favorite places to buy great (and expensive) chocolate.

I was this close to having him sign The Perfect Scoop (the source for most of the ice cream recipes I make). I was also going to give him a printout of a couple of blog posts.

Me and David Lebovitz at Fog City News.
The other guy: DL's body double?

But there was a long line, and I don't do lines. So this was as close as I got.

Oh well.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vegan roasted banana ice cream

A friend of mine who's lactose intolerant had a birthday this week, so I decided to make him some ice cream that he could eat even if he didn't have his lactase pills on hand.

The recipe I used was, as it turned out, based on a recipe from The Perfect Scoop. Or rather, it was based on a recipe based on a recipe from The Perfect Scoop.

The ingredients

The only ingredients were bananas, dates, vanilla extract (a whole tablespoon!), a bit of coconut oil, and coconut milk. You drizzle the bananas and dates with the coconut oil and vanilla, and then roast them. Then you blend together all the ingredients. Pretty easy.

But the taste... meh.

Maybe if I were a non-sugar eating vegan, I'd love it. But as someone who appreciates cream and sugar, I just wasn't into this stuff.

The recipe had some good parts. The roasting bananas made the house smell great. The batter tasted intensely and authentically banana-like, for better or worse. The mix set up quickly; after just 15 minutes, the whole thing was stuck to the churning paddle. Also, since the recipe used only 2 dates, we were able to enjoy lots of almond-stuffed dates. Yum!

But I just didn't like the overall flavor of the ice cream. It had a long lasting, bitter aftertaste, like the stringy bit of a banana. Maybe that's an anomaly—the fault of the bananas and not the recipe.

I consoled myself by making the super lemon ice cream from The Perfect Scoop. Such a perfect flavor.

Lemons from our backyard tree

I also made a marshmallow sauce that, as promised, made the ice cream taste like a lemon meringue pie. I'll probably stick with a healthier, easier raspberry sauce in the future, but it was fun to make the candy sauce, just this once.

Cosmo says when you heat this in the microwave, it puffs up. Must try.

So my friend got 2 pints of ice cream, plus some marshmallow sauce. One of the pints he can eat any time but might not like, and the other he'll need lactase for... but it's worth it.

I gave him the ice cream in a bag I found in the local fancy foodware shop.

The bag that kept the ice cream cold on BART
The perfect size for 2 pints!

Once the bitter aftertaste of the vegan recipe is a distant memory, I plan to try the original recipe for roasted banana ice cream, with all of its butter, sugar, and cream. Mmmm...

May 24 update: I made the original recipe, and here's the review. It's better, but still not my favorite.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Herb and spice infused ice creams

Some of the best ice creams I've made have had simple custard bases infused with a single spice. Cardamon, cinnamon, and fresh ginger have all been winners.

Three great flavors for ice cream

My predilection for sugary, creamy, yet slightly savory goodness didn't start with ice cream. I loved the panna cottas that Joshua Streeter, an ex-Google pastry chef, used to make. He'd add wonderful complexity to the sweet pudding by flavoring it with an herb, such as sage or thyme. It sounded weird but tasted great.

(The only dessert of his that I loved more than panna cotta was his financier, which he kindly gave me the recipe for. I'm not usually into baked goods, but almond flour and brown butter... so good.)

OK, I'm back.

Other herb/spice infused ice creams I want to try soon include parsley and a few teas and tisanes.