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Espresso Gelato

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Espresso Gelato.

I love coffee ice cream, but lately I wanted something with a stronger coffee flavor than you usually find in most store-bought ice creams. I’ve made ice cream with reduced espresso and espresso powder, but I really wanted to bring the coffee flavor to the next level—to eleven, naturally.

Espresso Gelato.There are a number of recipes that use coffee grounds, and the key to using coffee grounds is to use very coarsely ground coffee. A fine sieve or chinois is also very useful, but some tiny grounds can still pass through. Fortunately, each time you pour the gelato base from one container to another, fine coffee grounds are left behind. I also opted for a more gelato-like dairy base in this recipe by using twice as much milk as cream.

I also added some espresso powder to add more coffee flavor since too much coffee grounds can be overpowering. This gelato is definitely for the coffee lover, but you can also reduce or eliminate the coffee grounds and replace with 2 tablespoons of espresso powder to produce a milder flavor.

Ingredients for making Espresso Gelato.

Add 1/4 cup of very coarsely ground espresso coffee grounds to 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 cups of whole milk.

Add 1 tablespoon of espresso powder.

Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently until simmering. Remove from heat.

Pour mixture through a chinois or sieve to filter out coffee grounds.

With mixer on low, slowly add 3/4 cup of sugar to 5 egg yolks. Increase speed and beat until color lightens and mixture is fluffy.

With mixer on low, slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks and sugar.

Return custard base to saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture reaches about 165° F.

Pour mixture through chinois or sieve again to strain out any egg bits. Place in ice bath.

Once the gelato base is no longer hot, add 1 tablespoon of Kahlúa and stir to mix. Continue chilling until it reaches 45° F or colder.

Pour gelato base into ice cream maker and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Transfer gelato to dedicated, odor-free container and let ripen in the freezer for several hours before serving

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Espresso Gelato recipe page.

Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream.

One of the challenges of having a food blog—or any blog—is coming up with new content relevant to the blog’s focus. With the site being nearly 2 years old, I’ve kind of used up most of the recipes that I have been making for a decade or longer (I’ve still got a couple left for a rainy day). On the plus side, this is real incentive to try new things. I experimented with a couple nut caramel recipes last month that I hope to have ready for this year’s holiday candymaking run. I didn’t even bother taking pictures since I was just experimenting. Getting the camera involved—playing with white balance, exposure and other camera settings—really slows down the process, so it’s nice when I do bother to take photos and it pays off.

Looking for inspiration
Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream.I was watching Everyday Italian on the food network about a week ago when I noticed a rarely seen, cleavage-free Giada using mascarpone cheese in a dessert. I have never tasted mascarpone outside of tiramisu, so I was eager to try this ingredient in a dessert. I thought it would make a great addition to an ice cream, and my wife agreed that a raspberry ice cream would be yummy.

I poked around to see if there were any existing mascarpone ice cream recipes and found the same strawberry mascarpone ice cream on numerous sites, but it was really just a vanilla mascarpone ice cream with sliced strawberries folded in. I noted the amount of mascarpone used and then went to study my strawberry ice cream and raspberry sorbet recipes for guidance. The resulting recipe turned out great.

The mascarpone and raspberry really balance each other out nicely. The zing of the raspberry and the cheese flavors of the mascarpone battle each other to produce a delightfully smooth, creamy tasting ice cream. What’s really surprising is how the mascarpone almost makes the raspberries (which there are 3 pints of) taste a little like strawberry. It’s nice when you take a chance and it works out; we’re really enjoying this ice cream.

Ingredients for making Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream.

Heat 1 cup of whole milk over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.

Beat 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.

With mixer running, slowly pour the simmering milk into the beaten egg and sugar mixture.

Return this mixture to the stove and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches about 165° F. Place in ice bath to cool.

Once the custard base is room temperature, stir in 8 ounces of mascarpone cheese. Use electric mixer or whisk to ensure it is completely blended. Return to ice bath.

Rinse 3 pints of raspberries and purée with 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth.

Use a chinois or sieve to remove the seeds from the raspberry purée. Blend strained raspberries into custard base.

Add 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier to the ice cream base and stir until blended.

Beat 1 cup of heavy cream until just slightly thickened and stir into ice cream base.

Continue to chill in the ice bath until about 45° F.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions and transfer to odor-free container to ripen in the freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream recipe page.

The Taste of Fresh Strawberries

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

I have to admit that when I think of my favorite ice cream flavors, strawberry is not one of the flavors that come to mind. I tend to associate strawberry ice cream with childhood and Neapolitan ice cream. Most strawberry ice creams you come across are made with frozen strawberries and—for me—are kind of boring. I first made this recipe almost two years ago after smelling wonderfully ripe strawberries at the store. The recipe I ended up with was a blend of several recipes and was intended to yield a rich and creamy ice cream that really let the flavor of the fresh strawberries shine. The resulting ice cream was very delicious, but perhaps a little too rich. As good as it was, tasters remembered the flavor more because it was unique and less so because of the flavor.

Experience helps
When I decided to make strawberry ice cream again last week, I decided the recipe needed a little overhaul. I’ve made quite a few ice creams since I first made this recipe, so I have a better idea on how to tune the recipe. I decided to both decrease the egg yolks called for and adjust the ratio of whole milk to cream making them equal. The resulting ice cream was simply amazing.

Part of what makes this recipe special is the presence of orange and lemon juices. The brightness added by the juice from one lemon really goes a long way towards keeping the freshness of the strawberries from being muted by the custard and cream. The orange juice helps broaden the flavor and give it a little more depth. This recipe omits vanilla extract, which is common in many strawberry ice cream recipes. As much as I love vanilla, it too conspires to mask the freshness of the strawberries, yielding instead a strawberry flavored vanilla ice cream.

Because this ice cream involves cooking a custard base, juicing two citrus and blending the strawberries, it is a little more work than your typical fruit flavored ice cream or sorbet. Of course, I also opt to pass the strawberry puree through a chinois (when don’t I?) as this removes all the seeds to produce a silky smooth ice cream. If you like bits of strawberries in your ice cream, I’d recommend adding them at serving time since frozen strawberries can be icy. The fresh strawberries coupled with this ice cream will really bring the fresh strawberry flavor home.

Ingredients for making Strawberry Ice Cream.

While heating 1 1/4 cups of whole milk over medium heat, beat together 5 egg yolks and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy.

With mixer on low, slowly pour the simmering milk into the beaten egg yolks and sugar.

Return custard base to saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until temperature reaches about 170° F. Pour through a chinois into ice bath and cool.

Once the custard base reaches room temperature, rinse and hull 4 heaping cups of strawberries and place in blender with juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange. Purée until smooth and pour through chinois to remove seeds.

Mix strawberry purée into custard base and continue chilling until mixture reaches 45° F.

Beat 1 1/4 cups of chilled heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chilled ice cream base.

Pour mixture into ice cream maker and chill according to your maker’s instructions.

Let churn until thick before transferring to a dedicated, odor-free container to ripen in the freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and exhaustive photo gallery can be found on the Strawberry Ice Cream recipe page.

Worth the Effort: Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

When I was in high school, one of my favorite ice cream flavors was mocha almond fudge because it was like a portable coffee and chocolate sundae, with the fudge and nuts neatly packed inside. For some reason I have never really considered making it, perhaps because I was unsure of how to marble the fudge with the ice cream. Last June, Kieran from Ice Cream Ireland put out a call for readers to try out some of his recipes in anticipation of his new book (still not readily available in the US, but you can order it from the publisher if you are eager like me—will let you know when it arrives) and I decided to try making his Kahlúa Espresso Ice Cream (my post about it here). The coffee flavor of this ice cream was amazing, and I knew right away I had to adapt it to make some mocha almond fudge ice cream. Nearly a year later, here it is.

I knew I already had the perfect fudge sauce recipe for this ice cream, but I needed to reduce the hot fudge sauce recipe by about half to provide just the right amount for this ice cream. Of course, I ended making a regular batch of hot fudge sauce later that night since my daughter loves it and was disappointed to learn there wasn’t any leftover after the smaller batch I made for this ice cream. While I was waiting for the ice cream to freeze in my ice cream maker, I thought about how hard the fudge sauce might get when once it was frozen. The original hot fudge sauce recipe is intended to be heated and poured over the ice cream, resulting in a thick, warm sauce. I decided to get a preview of what I might end up with and placed some sauce on a spoon and left it in the freezer. After 10 minutes, I knew that it would be too hard once frozen with the ice cream. I salvaged the first batch of fudge sauce by adding a little more evaporated milk and stirring it in to the still warm sauce, resulting in just the right texture once frozen.

The first time I made this I added the almonds and the fudge to the ice cream maker immediately before shutting it off, but the fudge ended up getting too blended. In addition, the almonds generally sank to the bottom of the ice cream as it ripened in the freezer. To remedy both problems, I decided to let the ice cream firm up in the freezer for an hour before layering in the almonds and room temperature fudge sauce. A few plunges of the spatula into the ice cream broke up the layers and gave the fudge marbling a more random appearance, while still preserving the yummy chocolate veins.

There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but you can take advantage of the chill time of the ice cream base, the initial freezing of the ice cream, or the hour of firming up in the freezer before layering the almonds and fudge sauce. I’ve arranged the steps in the recipe to take the least amount of time possible, but you could toast the almonds or make the fudge sauce ahead of time. If the sauce is chilled, you will want to get it to room temperature so that it will be easier to distribute in the ice cream layers. Once the ice cream is finally ready to eat, you will understand that your efforts were worth it and why I didn’t think twice about making this a second time to refine the steps for this recipe. The Kahlúa, although not necessary if you have issues with alcohol, adds a wonderful depth to the coffee flavor in this ice cream. You will be thinking about your next batch as you finish the first.

Ingredients for making Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream.

Beat 5 egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.

Heat 1 1/4 cups of whole milk, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of espresso powder until simmering. Slowly add this to egg and sugar mixture while mixing on medium speed.

Return custard mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches about 165° F.

Pour custard base through a sieve or chinois to remove any egg bits and chill in ice bath.

While custard base is cooling, prepare fudge sauce. Cook 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, and 3 tablespoons corn syrup over medium heat.

Boil fudge sauce for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and let cool to room temperature.

Once custard base has chilled to less than 45° F, add 1/4 cup of Kahlúa and stir to blend.

Beat 1 1/4 cups of whipping cream until soft peaks form and gently fold this into chilled custard base.

Pour ice cream base into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions.

While ice cream is churning, chop about 2/3 cup of almonds. Use a colander to help remove the smaller, dustier particles.

Arrange chopped almonds in flat layer and toast in 350° F oven for 5 minutes (toaster oven is fine). Let cool to room temperature.

Once ice cream has finished churning, transfer to a dedicated, odor-free container and let ripen in freezer for one hour.

Remove ice cream from freezer and begin layering another container with a layer of ice cream and then a scoop of room temperature fudge sauce.

Add a layer of the almonds and repeat the layering of ice cream, fudge sauce and almonds. Plunge a spoon into the layers several times and then let firm in the freezer for several hours or overnight.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and exhaustive photo gallery can be found on the Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream recipe page.

A Bit Nutty: Gianduja Gelato

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Pictured above is a bowl of Gianduja Gelato. Until I started making candies a decade ago, I had never heard of gianduja. In case you have never heard of it, gianduja is a chocolate product made from chocolate, hazelnuts and almonds. It has a similar texture to milk chocolate, although slightly less firm. I have been using gianduja every year to make gianduja truffles, but I always ended up with about half a pound of gianduja left over. This year was no exception, so I found myself thinking of ways I could prevent it from going to waste. With the weather being nice this last week, it seemed like a good excuse to make some gelato. I poked around looking for some recipes, but most seemed to call for milk chocolate and hazelnuts, so I just sort of made this recipe up.

The first time I made this I used whole milk—common for many gelatos—but the finished gelato was a little icy. The first batch also had issues with appearance since the gianduja didn’t full incorporate with the hot custard base. The custard was more than hot enough to melt the gianduja, but there were still little flecks that no amount of stirring would remedy; it looked like diet ice cream. It is worth noting that whole milk alone wasn’t an issue when I did the same process with dark chocolate in the dark chocolate gelato. I still had some gianduja left, so I made another batch later in the day. This time, I first melted the gianduja in a double boiler and then slowly tempered it with small amounts of the hot custard. This resulted in a silky smooth gelato free of the flecks of gianduja in the first batch. I remedied the icy texture by substituting half & half for the milk.

The resulting gelato has a wonderfully smooth texture with nutty overtones. The addition of a couple tablespoons of Frangelico liqueur helps promote the hazelnut flavor while keeping the gelato texture nice and soft.

Ingredients for making Gianduja Gelato.

Heat 2 1/2 cups of half & half over medium heat until simmering, stirring frequently.

Mix 3/4 cup of sugar with 5 egg yolks until light and fluffy.

With the mixer on medium-low, slowly pour the hot half & half into the egg and sugar mixture.

Heat the eggs, sugar and half & half until it reaches 165 °F to form a custard base. Remove from heat.

Chop 6 ounces of gianduja and melt in a double boiler over very hot (not simmering) water.

Mix in about 1/4 cup of the custard base into the melted gianduja. Stir until blended. Repeat with gradually larger amounts of the custard base until smooth.

Transfer the gelato base to an ice bath and chill until less than 45 °F. Add 2 tablespoons of Frangelico liqueur.

Freeze according to your maker’s instructions and transfer to a dedicated, odor-free container to ripen in the freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Gianduja Gelato recipe page.

Recipe Test: Ice Cream Ireland’s Kahlua Espresso Ice Cream

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

When Kieran from Ice Cream Ireland put out the call for ice cream testers earlier this month, I knew I had to jump in and help out. I had already made one of his recipes for Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream (see my post about it here), with great success, so I decided to stick with the coffee theme and select his Coffee Kahlúa Ice Cream for testing. This ice cream has a rich custard base with real espresso and Kahlúa for flavoring. I decided to serve my first batch with hot fudge sauce and almonds (picture above).

To Boil or not to Boil?
The espresso flavor in this recipe, unlike a lot of recipes I’ve seen or used, comes from real, fresh espresso. Since the espresso has such high water content, Kieran recommends boiling the espresso to prevent the finished ice cream from being icy. This is the same process for espresso flavoring that Kieran uses in is Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream, which I have also made. I’m not a coffee snob by any means, but I still pause to consider the flavor ramifications from boiling coffee.

Twenty years ago, the percolator was a very common way for Americans to brew coffee. Today the percolator is typically found only at camping supply stores. Although I was hesitant to boil espresso for so long, the resulting flavor of this ice cream is anything but burnt. The espresso flavor is strong and very easy to differentiate from the Kahlúa flavor. This ice cream disappeared very quickly so I decided to make a second batch—this time using espresso powder. Espresso powder is typically made by freeze-drying espresso, so the espresso is never actually boiled or subject to high temperatures. The resulting ice cream was equally delicious, but the coffee flavoring was definitely different. With espresso powder, the espresso flavor was not as sharp and the broader coffee flavor also blended more with the Kahlúa flavoring; it was more difficult to detect the Kahlúa with espresso powder.

If you really want a pronounced espresso and Kahlúa flavoring, stick with the fresh espresso. The espresso powder will yield a coffee ice cream more similar to what you might buy at the store. Either way, you’ll be out of ice cream in no time.

Whipping your ice cream into submission
In the past, I have asked Kieran about whipping the cream separately and folding it into the chilled custard base before freezing since I had never seen this step in ice cream recipes. Kieran said that most home machines don’t churn the ice cream at a high enough speed to introduce enough air into the mixture. My Musso Lussino ice cream maker spins at a pretty good rate, so I had omitted Kieran’s suggestion in the past. Since I was testing this recipe for his upcoming cookbook, I decided I would whip the cream as instructed.

The finished ice cream was simply amazing and my wife also noted the fantastic texture of the finished ice cream, even after sitting in the freezer for a day. I’m definitely going to be making some modifications to my ice cream recipes to include this step. I just made 2 batches of my own vanilla ice cream recipe for Thanksgiving using this technique and was thrilled with the results. When whipping the cream, I think you want to just aim for soft peaks or else the ice cream may not fully blend in your maker. I’m betting too much air is not a good thing, though I haven’t tried pushing the envelope on this.

The verdict: Outstanding!
This recipe is a keeper! Although I am already partial to coffee flavored ice creams, I have to say that this recipe is one of the best I’ve had. In fact, I’m already working on a variation for a true mocha almond fudge recipe. I’m looking forward to Kieran’s new book and will be sure to post an announcement here when it comes out.

Ingredients for making Kahlúa Espresso Ice Cream.

Boil 1/2 cup espresso (about 4 shots) and 1 tablespoon sugar until reduced to 1/3 original volume.

Mix 5 egg yolks and 1 cup sugar until light yellow and fluffy.

Slowly pour 1 1/8 cups of simmering whole milk into egg yolk and sugar mixture while mixing on medium low speed.

Return egg yolk, sugar and hot milk mixture to stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 165 – 170° F. Chill mixture in ice bath until less than 45° F.

Mix in 1/4 cup of Kahlúa into custard base and blend. Whip 1 1/8 cups of heavy cream to soft peak stage and gently fold into chilled custard base.

Pour ice cream base into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions.

Add 2 ounces of chocolate shavings (or very small chunks) once ice cream starts to thicken a little.

Transfer finished ice cream to dedicated container and let ripen in freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Kahlúa Espresso Ice Cream recipe page or at Ice Cream Ireland.