Apple Pie Ice Cream (#29)

27 09 2012

A few weekends ago, my parents, sister, and I went off on our annual wine tasting trip to the Okanagan.  I find mid-September — after Labour Day and before the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival — to be the best time to visit.  The roads are quiet, there are no insane crowds, fruits and veggies are at their prime, and the fall sunshine is warm and golden.  The place is beautiful.

This year, we focused on wineries on the Naramata bench.  Tasting was, of course, our main focus, but I’d have to say that our most delightful stop was at Dream Acres, a small apple orchard beside Lake Breeze Winery.  We were drawn to Dream Acres’ road side fruit and jam stand and the gala apple trees that were growing right next to it — it was the cutest set up and the trees were absolutely laden with apples.  The owner just happened to be outside during our visit and invited us to pick some apples off his trees.  Not the galas though, these are my grand kids’ trees and they’d kill me if I let you pick off them!  He led us to his McIntosh grove instead, where we excitedly picked a couple dozen apples.  They were truly the most amazing, juicy apples I have ever tasted, and just 30 cents a pound to boot!

apple tree

McIntosh apples at Green Acres Orchard, Naramata BC

apple tree

Happy customers!

The apples just begged to be made into pie, but since I’m not in the business of making pie, Apple Pie Ice Cream it is then — the first of several ice cream recipes celebrating the tastes of fall!

This recipe involves pan frying apples with some cinnamon, sugar, and other warming spices, and then churning the fruit into a luscious vanilla ice cream base.  (I used the little McIntoshes, along with some Galas and Jonagolds I picked up in Keremeos on our way home.)  Don’t be scared by the intensity of spices if you sneak a taste of the apples before churning it into the vanilla ice cream.  When mixed together, the flavour mellows and you have a wonderfully balanced combination of sweet and spice.  Think apple pie à la mode (sans pie crust, since I’ve never been a huge fan of crust).  It’s a perfect dessert for those first days of fall.

Apple Pie Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream:

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon Spiced Apples:

3 cups finely chopped apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of sea salt

For the Ice Cream:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  2. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.  Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Chill overnight in the fridge.

For the Cinnamon Spiced Apples:

  1. While the ice cream is chilling, prepare the cinnamon spiced apples.
  2. Toss the apples with the lemon juice.
  3. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the apples, sugar, and spices.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and all the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, cool, and chill overnight in the fridge.

To Finish:

  1. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In the final stages of churning, add the cinnamon spiced apples and churn to distribute throughout the ice cream.
apple pie ice cream

The Official Taster was out of town at a conference this week, so my sister fulfilled the role of Guest Taster.   The Guest Taster says: “HOLY SH*T, this is gooooood ice cream!!!”


Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream (#28)

20 09 2012

Last weekend, while making cà phê sữa đá — iced Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk — it occurred to me that this would make for a fantastic ice cream flavour.

Since my trip to Vietnam last year, I have become rather addicted to Vietnamese style coffee.  Why?

  1. Vietnanese coffee is a blend of robusta, arabica, chari and catimor beans — it’s a wonderfully aromatic combination and has a very unique flavour.
  2. It is brewed using a phin — a small, simple drip filter shaped like a top hat.  You watch your coffee slowly drip, drip, drip for four to six minutes through the filter into your glass.  The slow drip results in coffee with the strength of rocket fuel.  You can read more about brewing a perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee here.
  3. You can optionally serve it with ice and sweetened condensed milk.  For me, that’s about 99% of the time!
Iced Vietnamese coffee

One of a many, many iced Vietnamese coffees I had during the trip.  Yum!

Cà phê sữa đá just begs to be turned into ice cream!  For this ice cream recipe, I used Trung Nguyen coffee, Vietnam’s national brand.  If you can’t find Trung Nguyen coffee (or another brand of Vietnamese coffee) from a local Vietnamese market, you can substitute a strong French roast coffee.

Trung Nguyen coffee

The last of the huge stash of Trung Nguyen coffee I brought back from Vietnam last year.

I also used Longevity Brand sweetened condensed milk, which you should be able to find at most Asian grocery stores.  Longevity is my brand of choice as it doesn’t contain any oil, fillers, or other strange ingredients.  Plus it has a cool label that screams wise choice.  Longevity also happened to rank #1 in a condensed milk taste test by Serious Eats.

Longevity Brand condensed milk

Wise men (and women) choose Longevity Brand!

Results?  The ice cream has a strong, rich coffee taste with notes of butter and caramel from the condensed milk.  Using condensed milk also results in an extremely malleable ice cream.  Even after 24+ hours in the freezer, the ice cream was ready to scoop, requiring no softening time in the fridge or on the counter.  I’ll be eating this ice cream for breakfast for the next week!

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream  (Makes about 1 L)
Adapted from Serious Eats

2 1/4 cups half-and-half cream
1/4 cup ground Vietnamese coffee
2 eggs
1 300 mL can sweetened condensed milk

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Lime and Phu Quoc Peppercorn Ice Cream (#27)

13 09 2012

The inspiration for this week’s ice cream recipe is an ingredient I obtained while travelling in Vietnam last year: Phu Quoc Peppercorns.

Last year, the Official Taster and I travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia.  Hands down, the favourite part of our trip was a few relaxing days at Freedomland, a homestay resort on Phu Quoc Island in southwestern Vietnam.  While Freedomland is truly a little piece of paradise in and of itself, the highlight of our stay was definitely the food.  Peter and Rita (the owners) and their staff do an amazing job every night cooking for up to 30 guests.  Peter is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about food, and having travelled and lived in so many parts of the world (including Vancouver!), this was Vietnamese fusion cuisine at its best.  Each dish was so fresh, flavourful, and exquisitely prepared and plated.   He really ought to have his own cooking show.

Grilled lemongrass prawn

Grilled prawns on a lemongrass skewer, served over fresh pasta and pesto.  We had three dinners at Freedomland during our stay and Peter prepared a total of 25 (yes, 25!) dishes.  I’m not exaggerating about his amazing food!  Check out the Tripadvisor reviews.

Phu Quoc peppercorns made their way into many of Peter’s dishes.  Vietnam, I learned,  is the leading global exporter of black peppercorns, and the best quality peppercorns come from Phu Quoc.  Peter — sensing my extreme enthusiasm for all things food — was kind enough to get me a huge bag of peppercorns from a local pepper farm.  Don’t buy it from the market, he warned.  It’s mixed with the cheap stuff! 

Phu Quoc peppercorns

Spicy, aromatic Phu Quoc peppercorns — real ones, not the cheap stuff!

Phu Quoc peppercorns are wonderfully aromatic and spicy — like no other peppercorns I’ve ever tasted.  Finish any Southeast Asian dish with freshly ground Phu Quoc peppercorns and a squeeze of lime juice and it comes to life!  A perfect flavour combination, and a perfect combo for ice cream.

If you can’t source Phu Quoc peppercorns from your local Vietnamese grocer for this ice cream recipe, substitute with the freshest, highest quality black peppercorns you can find.  Also, be sure to infuse the custard with the peppercorns overnight if you want a spicier ice cream.  You will find many peppercorn ice cream recipes instructing you to strain out the peppercorns after one hour, but why be apologetic in its use?

Freedomland homestay resort

The Official Taster, Peter, and I on our last day at Freedomland, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Lime and Phu Quoc Peppercorn Ice Cream (makes about 1 L)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 tablespoon coarsely ground Phu Quoc peppercorns
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the first five ingredients.
  2. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the half-and-half, taking care that the mixture does not curdle.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  5. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.
  7. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove the zest and pepper.  If some of the pepper escapes, that’s okay!
  8. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and slice of lime.
lime peppercorn ice cream

The Official Taster says: “It would have been nice to have this while in Vietnam!”

Hungarian Plum Dumpling Ice Cream (#26)

6 09 2012

Week #26!  This is the halfway mark in my year of ice cream making!  I’m pleased to report that I’ve only gained 3 lbs so far.  Bring on another 26 weeks.  I’m ready.

This week’s recipe is inspired by a dish originating from Hungary: szilvás gombóc, plum dumplings rolled in buttery cinnamon sugar bread crumbs.  I first learned of this dish from my co-worker Lisa, who travelled to Hungary some years ago, where she had authentic szilvás gombóc and — even better — szilvás gombóc flavoured ice cream.  After hearing about this, I endeavoured to try making both.

I came across Dog Hill Kitchen’s recipe for szilvás gombóc and thought I’d give it a try — after all, the recipe originates from someone’s Hungarian great-grandmother, so surely it must be authentic!

Dough for Hungarian plum dumplings

Mix together flour, mashed potato, and egg.  This is almost like making a gnocchi dough.

Italian prune plums and cinnamon sugar

Slice open Italian prune plums and fill the centres with cinnamon sugar.

Hungarian plum dumpling

Roll or pat a portion of the dough into the circle and place the cinnamon sugar filled plum in the centre.

Hungarian plum dumplings

Form the dough around the plum and pinch the top together. These will be giant dumplings!  Cook them for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Cinnamon sugar buttered breadcrumbs

While the dumplings are cooking, melt some butter, and add some breadcrumbs, cinnamon, and sugar.

Cinnamon sugar buttered breadcrumbs

Cook until golden brown and fragrant.

Hungarian plum dumplings

When the dumplings are cooked, drain well with a slotted spoon, and roll each one in the buttery cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs.

Hungarian plum dumpling

The dumpling sliced open! Yum!

Hungarian plum dumplings

Even better: if you use perfectly ripe Italian prune plums, the dumplings will be filled with juicy plum goodness!

Now, how to capture the taste of plum dumplings in ice cream?  I decided the best method was to cook Italian prune plums with some cinnamon and sugar until they were thick and saucy and then swirl the compote, along with some buttery cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs,  into a delicate vanilla ice cream.  The results?  AMAZING.  This recipe is currently ranked among my Top 3 ice cream recipes (Mango Ice Cream with Chili Sea Salt and Black Forest Ice Cream being my two other current favourites).  The prune plums cook down to a gorgeous fuchsia colour and the breadcrumbs add a delightful sweet crunch to the ice cream.  Élvez!  Enjoy!

Hungarian Plum Dumpling Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Plum Compote

2 1/2 cups diced Italian prune plums
1/3 c white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarse bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons white sugar

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