Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week Four - Sick Day Sorbet

This week's flavor came to me rather I looked around for inspiration, everywhere I went I was struck by one resounding commonality: I was surrounded by sick people! My mom was sick, my co-workers are sick, the gross people behind me in line at Target are hacking away; I can't escape it! So I thought I'd make something to sooth the sickies in my life. Little did I know that later in the week I, myself, would fall victim to the winter cold. Ugh! I spent the first half of yesterday sniffling through The Descendants and then the second half was spent blowing my nose through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (Can you tell I'm catching up on Oscar noms?)

I am quite excited to taste this sorbet as it is reminiscent of a concoction my sister created for me in the days leading up to my wedding. I had been staying up beyond late every night to finish the programs and menus (and all the other brilliant DIY ideas I had decided on, not realizing I'd be slapping it all together the week before!) and I had been working long hours to prepare for a huge event at work. By the time I made it down to my parents' house, two days before the wedding, I was a mess: I couldn't stop blowing my nose, I had no voice (And for those who know me, you know I need to talk. All the time. It's a sickness.) and I had turned into a wedding craft tyrant, enslaving my poor family members to tie menus to napkins and package macarons with the labels affixed, just so. (How did you not kill me?!) My sister, who has an amazing knack for being able to calm me down, made off to the local grocer to procure some magical ingredients, which she then heated, steeped, and served to her crazed-yet-glowing big sister. Within a few hours, I was like new! I still insisted on driving past the wedding venue to assure that they were setting everything up like I had asked (...the event planner in me) but at least I was able to tell the woman that everything looked perfect, instead of having to write it down.

So for anyone who is feeling slightly under-the-weather this winter season, might I suggest a scoop of this sorbet? Or at least a cup of my sister's miracle elixir - hot water with ginger root, lemon and honey.

Sick Day Sorbet (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)


2 cups orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 oz liquid pectin (you can find this near the gelatin at most grocery stores)
1/8 tsp ground cayenne
2 tbs Maker's Mark

1. Add the juices, sugar, honey and ground ginger to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

2. Add pectin, ground cayenne and Maker's Mark and stir to incorporate.

3. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

4. Transfer cooled mixture into bowl of ice cream maker and churn. Upon completion, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week Three - Chai

I am not a big fan of winter. I mean, sure, I get to wear boots (yay!) and listen to Christmas music (Mariah!) but traipsing around in slushy, dirty snow for three months makes me sad. I long for the days of sandals and short sleeves. The one redeeming factor of the snow day: the excuse to snuggle up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a delicious hot beverage to watch bad TV. I'm talking hot cocoa and Lifetime...a hot toddy and an NCIS marathon...or if you're me, this winter it'll be the terrible-yet-fantastic Hulu original, Misfits (British teenagers with superpowers!), and a tasty chai latte.

I can't remember my life before chai, but I'm certain it was dark. The combination of black tea and spices is a gift to the taste buds; add sugar and milk and you've got yourself a seriously delicious latte. You can take this one step further by adding an additional layer of flavor: vanilla, chocolate, mint. I feel only slightly shameful admitting that I 100% love Dunkin' Donuts' Vanilla Chai Latte, which conjures childhood memories of the Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pie. Yum!

Now that I've regaled you with my winter obsession, let's talk ice cream! We received a book of ice cream recipes as a wedding gift (Thanks, Sean!) and as I perused the pages the other day, this week's flavor was decided immediately as I landed on the page for Chai Ice Cream. I set off to my favorite spice shop to gather some ingredients and began the process. I encountered a few hiccups along the way, which I will note below. I also tried to take more photos this time, after one of my self-proclaimed fans (Hey, brother.) said he'd like to see more of what I'm doing. (Special thanks to my husband for HTML-Nerding-Out to arrange the photos for me!)

I hope you enjoy! Here goes:

Chai Ice Cream (adapted from A Passion for Ice Cream)


5 green cardamom pods
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (I used ceylon cinnamon)
1 1/2 tbs loose black tea leaves
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 4 pieces
3 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt

1. Crush the cardamom pods with a knife and toast in the oven for a few minutes to bring out the flavor.

2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream, half the sugar, the spices (see note 1), tea and ginger and cook over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form. Immediately remove from heat and cover, allowing the flavors to steep for 10 minutes or so.

3. In a bowl, whisk the yolks, remaining sugar and the salt. Once steeped, slowly add the hot mixture into the cold mixture, whisking all the while. Return the combined mixture to the saucepan and heat at medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture lightly coats the back of your spatula.

4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and rest a smaller bowl on top. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (see note 2) into the smaller bowl bowl and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Cover mixture with plastic wrap, making sure to lay wrap directly against the surface to avoid a "skin" from forming, and refrigerate a few hours, or overnight.

5. Transfer cooled mixture into bowl of ice cream maker and churn. Upon completion, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze.

6. Enjoy! (see note 3)

Note 1: Upon tasting the completed product, I am very unhappy with the flavor profile. If I make this ice cream again, I will change the spice combination by first reducing the cardamom to two or three pods. I also didn't taste enough cinnamon so I'd probably add a bit of ground cinnamon in addition to the sticks. I think I'd also add a couple black peppercorns.

Note 2: Fine-mesh means fine! I used my Crate and Barrel sieve and it let most of the tea leaves through to the ice cream. Luckily, I was able to procure a finer-than-mine mesh sieve to save the mixture before churning. Let me know if you'd like to borrow it!

Note 3: I did not enjoy this ice cream. The noted spice changes might alter that but I also didn't think it was sweet enough. In addition to switching up the spices, I think I might also add a bit more sugar if I were to make this again. I like my ice cream to be more on the sweet side, less on the "Is this egg pudding?" side. Eww.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week Two - Chocolate with Cinnamon and Cayenne

Since I started this blog a week into the new year, I figured I should make up for that lost week by posting two flavors this week. So here it is, flavor number two! I suppose I should come up with a better method of naming flavors, as "Chocolate with Cinnamon and Cayenne" sounds a bit clinical. But for now, we'll just go with it.

This flavor combination is a favorite of mine. I mean, you could probably mix chocolate with just about any flavor and I'd eat it. In fact, I've often said that I'd probably eat a chocolate-covered hamburger if you put it in front of me...and I haven't eaten a hamburger in about twenty years. (Save for that one terrible near-hamburger experience I had in college. But I digress...) I know perhaps these spices sound like odd additives to a sweet treat, particularly the cayenne, but the way these flavors layer together and then reveal themselves one by one as the ice cream melts in your's a real thing of beauty.

So I hope you'll open your minds and your taste buds and enjoy some Chocolate with Cinnamon and Cayenne:

Chocolate with Cinnamon and Cayenne (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)

1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use Scharffen Berger)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (again Scharffen Berger)
2 cups whole milk
1 tbs plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 tbs cream cheese
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 heavy cream
2 tbs light corn syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. In a saucepan, heat the cocoa powder, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. After 30 seconds of boiling, remove the pan from heat and add the chopped bittersweet chocolate, stirring until all the lumps and bumps are removed.

2. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and 2 tbs of milk.

3. In yet another bowl (this time, a larger bowl) combine the cream cheese, chocolate mixture and sea salt until it's lump-free.

4. In a large saucepan, mix the remaining milk and sugar, the cream and corn syrup and bring to a rolling boil for about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.

5. Return the pan to heat and boil, stirring constantly, for about a minute. The mixture should be slightly thickened at this point.

6. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture (lots of mixtures!) and whisk until lump-free. Add the spices and stir until uniform.

7. Pour the mixture (carefully!) into a freezer bag and submerge (make sure it's sealed!) in a bowl of ice water. Let sit in water until completely cooled.

8. Transfer cooled mixture into bowl of ice cream maker and churn. Upon completion, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze.

9. Sprinkle with some candied pepitas (or don't) and enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Week One: Vanilla Bean

When trying to decide what flavor would be best to start this venture off with, I had quite a few thoughts floating around in my head. I though perhaps I'd start with one of my favorites. But then I thought it might be more fun to make something exciting that I'd never tried before. I finally decided that as the new year starts, leaving us all with a blank slate, perhaps I'd pick a flavor that mirrored that notion...the classic Vanilla Bean. (Ice cream metaphor!) Delicious on it's own, Vanilla Bean is a beautiful blank canvas for an endless list of possible additions: swirl in some mixed berry compote and a bit of granola, or perhaps a bit of caramel mixed with toasted almonds, or a simple handful of chocolate covered peanuts thrown in at the end of the churning.

Now I don't know about y'all, but I would eat all of these. At the same time, if given the option. But for now, I decided to keep it simple and classic. And I was quite happy with that decision when, at 10am yesterday morning, I was tasting my wares while in my pj's watching Once Upon a Time. ('Cause yeah, I watch that.) And I have a pint left that will be making it's way into someone's freezer soon...I think I have the perfect taste-testers picked out for this first batch!

And so here it is, Vanilla Bean:

(adapted from Williams-Sonoma Ice Cream)

1.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
0.5 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 vanilla bean

1. Combine the milk and 1 cup of cream in a heavy saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat for five minutes.

2. In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar and remaining 0.5 cups of cream. Whisk until smooth.

3. Remove the milk mixture from heat and slowly add some of the egg mixture, stirring until smooth. Now add egg mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. *Don't let the mixture'll be ugly!*

4. Strain the mixture into a heavy duty ziploc bag and toss the vanilla bean. Submerge the bag in ice water until cool and then stick the bag in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight.

5. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn away! Transfer the finished product into a freezer safe container (like one of these that my brilliant husband bought me for Christmas!) and wait a few hours before indulging.

6. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

it begins...

for years now i've wanted to start a blog, never with any specific subject matter in mind. i've attempted and failed twice before, never making it beyond the initial post. i guess i just wasn't that interested in what i was writing about...or perhaps i'm just not that good at it. i suppose we'll soon find out.

rewinding the clock a couple years, i was lucky enough at my bridal shower to receive my long-coveted kitchenaid mixer (i have amazing aunts!) which has revolutionised my kitchen. fore example: a few weeks ago, i was making a swiss meringue buttercream and left my apartment in the middle of mixing to feed a neighbor's cat...when i came back i found a beautiful, fluffy frosting ready to be spread onto chocolate chip cookies and devoured! it truly is a brilliant piece of machinery. along with receiving this god-like mixer, another amazing aunt gifted me with kitchenaid's ice cream maker attachment. with this, i've been able to create some pretty tasty (if i do say so myself) treats over the past couple years...a festive sweet potato and marshmallow ice cream for thanksgiving, a refreshing cherry lambic sorbet over the summer, a personal favorite salted caramel ice cream for christmas...

so here the next phase of my frozen deliciousness begins. after being inspired by a co-worker of my husband (whom i've never met but already admire) i've charged myself with mixing up a new flavor of ice cream/sorbet/gelato each week for the entirety of the current year and documenting my adventures on the world wide web. it might be painfully boring to read, but i'm hoping it will at least be pleasing to the taste buds. my hips can't tolerate weekly doses of heavy cream so i'll be calling upon you all to help me taste-test.

wish me luck! i'm already a week behind so this week will be double the fun. stay tuned...