Monday, June 30, 2014

Coffee ice cream

I tried making coffee ice cream once before, using The Perfect Scoop's recipe, which had me soaking coffee beans in hot milk for an hour. The result was too bitter for me, so I vowed to try again.

This time, I used Emeril Lagasse's coffee ice cream recipe. It has a custard base, similar to the recipe in TPS, but it makes a larger amount of ice cream. It called for 6 large egg yolks, but all we had were jumbo eggs, so I used 5 jumbo egg yolks. It also called for instant coffee, rather than coffee beans. I used nearly 5 little packets of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew.

It expired April 2013, but still tasted good.

The resulting mix was darker brown than the steeped coffee bean version.

The mix before adding in the last cup of cream.

Churning took about half an hour, which is what I expected for this larger than usual batch. It filled our ice cream container to the top.

The result was delicious, either plain or with roasted almond slivers. I'm sure chocolate sauce would be good, too.


Strangely, the texture seemed a little icier and less smooth than usual. It might just be because the proportions were different than usual, or perhaps there's something about instant coffee that encourages iciness.

Next time I might try the usual TPS ice cream recipe with 1-1/2 Tbsp of instant coffee and perhaps a few drops of vanilla.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Malted milk ice cream (yum!)

This week I made malted milk ice cream, and it was a big hit.

Husbot: "It's my favorite flavor."
Sonbot: "This is one of the best ice creams I've ever had." "Better even than Cherry Garcia?" "Yeah."
Dotbot: "It would be better with fewer malt balls. But it's probably my favorite that you've made, from what I could taste of it." (She thought there were so many mixins that you could hardly taste the ice cream. That was certainly true, but it didn't bother anyone else.)

This recipe (from The Perfect Scoop, naturally) has a typical custard base, but with more egg yolk. It has malted milk powder added to the custard, and chopped malted milk balls mixed in. I more or less quartered the milk balls, which I got from a bulk bin at Nob Hill Grocery.

Malted milk balls (dark chocolate covered)

At first it didn't seem like the malt powder would mix in completely, but it did.

Carnation Malted Milk
(similar to Horlicks, which is supposed to be stronger;
I'd like to try Horlicks sometime)

The ice cream seemed like it might be too sweet, but the malted milk balls (which were covered in 60% dark chocolate) added a sufficiently complex, semi-savory taste to counterbalance the sugar. Sonbot even loved the last cup of ice cream that I packed, which had almost no mixins.

The suhweet ice cream mixture

I agree with dotbot that we could've used fewer malted milk balls, overall. The first pint I packed had so many mixins, it seemed like there were more mixins than ice cream. I was layering, more than mixing, for that pint, because the recipe said to fold in the mixins. Usually, you add the mixins during the last 5 minutes of churning, but maybe the recipe didn't call for that for fear of smooshing the milk balls.

After the first pint, I realized that I should just mix the malted milk balls in the churning bowl, but I didn't scrape the sides before doing that, so the last cup of ice had almost no mixins. Next time—which will be soon—I'll try reducing the mixins by 1/3 or so, and scraping down the sides of the churning bowl before mixing in the bowl.

Too many mixins (but fewer than the first pint)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Black currant ice cream

For my latest ice cream, I went back to a traditional custard, if not a traditional flavor.

I'd made green tea ice cream before, using matcha (yum!), but I'd never made an ice cream by infusing tea leaves.

After steeping

It felt wrong to steep the tea leaves for an hour, but I didn't notice any bitterness in the result.

After adding egg yolks

The mix churned for perhaps a few minutes longer than usual.

At the start of churning

With a creamy, tasty result.

The finished ice cream

This is a good ice cream (especially with chocolate sauce), but it's not as delicious as the matcha green tea ice cream. I'm thinking of making matcha ice cream and a steeped green tea ice cream at the same time, just to compare to each other. I'm also interested in ways to avoid steeping the tea leaves for so long.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Plum granita & plum-ginger-honey ice cream

With my plum tree's explosion still in full effect, I had to do something quick to use up the fruit. This time, I picked two recipes from the web, each of which uses 2 pounds of plums:
I modified both recipes:
  • Halved the ginger because I got tired of grating ginger, and I worried—unnecessarily, as it turned out—that it would overpower the other flavors.
  • Omitted the water from the granita because the plums were so darned juicy.
  • Reduced the sugar because the plums were so sweet, and because I didn't add water to the granita. I halved the sugar in the granita and used the lower amount of honey in the ice cream.
  • Quartered (or so) the vanilla in the granita because the plums had so much flavor.
  • Omitted the salt because I'm on a reduced-sodium diet.
  • Halved the brandy in the ice cream because I didn't want it to taste alcoholic.
Of the two, I like the granita best. Strike that—I love the granita. It's great tasting and a crazy, electric red color. Plus the process of freezing the granita is fun in a low-tech way. 

The brightly colored plum skins make the juice neon red.

I'm less sure about the ice cream. At first, I worried that it would be inedible, since the ginger tasted way too raw and strong at first. However, the ginger flavor mellowed as the mix chilled, and I couldn't even taste the ginger in the final product.

Roasting the plums was just kind of funny (for me) and frustrating (for my husband) because I outsourced the plum prep to my husband. Even though I tried to give him the firmest plums, he was cursing all through the process of trying to cut the plums in half and separate out the pits.

The plums, post roast.

Another problem ingredient was the honey. It overwhelmed all the other flavors, probably because I picked a dark, intense honey rather than a lighter, milder honey. However, the honey did give the ice cream a fantastic texture and an interesting taste (if you're into honey).

I used the dark honey on the left.
I probably should've used the light honey on the right.

And then there was the Sriracha. Just as I put the mixture in the fridge to chill, a bottle of Sriracha took a header and pierced through the plastic wrap. None of the hot sauce appeared to get out, though; at least, when I took a spoon to the landing site, I had no "you've got chocolate in my peanut butter" revelation.

The resulting mixture took a little longer than usual to churn, but it ended up with a very nice texture and a good flavor (if light on ginger and heavy on honey).

I probably won't make the ice cream recipe again, but I might well try other honey recipes. I'll probably try roasting fruit again, but only if it isn't too juicy. Also, I'll keep in mind that ginger mellows with cooking and sitting time. Lots of lessons learned this time!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Plum ice cream

Plums are supposed to be a summer fruit, but my Beauty plum tree doesn't know that. It just waits until [name redacted relative who loves plums] leaves town in mid-to-late spring. All of the plums then ripen, and by the time summer officially starts, no fruit is left on the tree. Sneaky plum tree.

Crafty plum tree detects plum lover's impending absence.

My plum tree also doesn't know that its ripe fruits are supposed to be red over yellow skin. Instead, they're electric red with just a bit of gold, and sometimes very dark.

Ripe Beauty plums

The insides are, however, just as golden and juicy and flavorful as they're supposed to be. The taste is both sweet and tart.

When you eat these plums out of hand,
you need to hold a towel to catch the drips.

The plums are so juicy that I didn't bother adding the water that the recipe called for.

The chopped plums with their juice

The recipe called for a tiny amount of kirsch, but Trader Joe's didn't have any. TJ did, however, have a plum brandy called slivovitz. It's a strong, eau-de-vie type liquor.

Zwack slivovitz

Pureeing the plums' golden flesh and red skin (with some sugar and a tiny bit of slivovitz) resulted in a beautiful pink ice cream.


I used a stick blender to puree (more or less) the mixture. I was prepared to accept some skin in the ice cream, but it turned out that all the skin stuck to the churning blade.

Conveniently, the plum skins stick to plastic.

The result was a soft, smooth ice cream with an intense plum flavor. A little goes a long way, but I'll definitely be making it again—probably this week.

This cup of ice cream is going to my friend Sandy.

Monday, June 2, 2014


I love gear. I'm not a handy person, but I can still entertain myself walking the aisles of a hardware store, looking at all the variations on gaskets or copper pipe fittings or other beautiful but functional objects.

So of course I'm into hardware that's handy for making ice cream. I just got an expensive new Zeroll scoop. It works really well, but although it ostensibly serves 2 ounces, the portion seems about as big my original scoop's. So I'll just have to get a 1 oz. Zeroll. Yes, some scoops are available in multiple sizes.

A 2 oz. Zeroll scoop (left):
Now my first choice, supplanting
the Good Cook "Smart Scoop" (right).

For containers, I love the Tovolo Glide-A-Scoop tubs. They fit in my freezer, they're easy to pack into a cooler bag, and their long shape makes scooping easy. Their insulation might also help keep the ice cream from crystallizing, but we haven't kept any ice cream around long enough to know for sure.

Tovolo containers:
Work great and fit in my overstuffed freezer.

Not all of the hardware works out. I bought an egg separator that not only isn't foolproof, but takes longer to use than separating eggs by hand. And I found out the hard way that some plastic is not meant to be frozen. Even plastic that's meant for the freezer can crack if you aren't careful. (I'll get another Tovolo container and try to be gentler with it.)

I cracked this Tovolo container
when I pounded down the lid. Oops.

Sometimes I fall in love with something that seems silly but is surprisingly useful, like a 3/4 cup measure.

Ice cream recipes often call for 3/4 cup of an ingredient.

And then there's one of my favorite souvenirs ever, a stainless steel citrus juicer that I bought while visiting my brother. Unlike Fran's dark hot chocolate mix (a souvenir from Seattle that happens to be in a heavy, pipe-bomb-like container) the juicer caused no problems with airport security. 

Beautiful and useful.

Other hardware is fun but not at all essential. A Metric Wonder Cup can be useful for measuring small amounts of ingredients, as well as for getting every last drop of viscous ingredients such as molasses and honey. A microplane is handy for grating citrus zest. The two plastic spatulas in the picture below are pretty good for unloading the churning bucket, but they aren't perfect.


I bet a narrow plastic/silicone spatula would be great at getting the ice cream off the churning blade... Time to shop!