Red Velvet Ice Cream (#49)

13 02 2013

Red.  This week is all about red.  First off, we rang in the Year of the Snake for Chinese New Year on Sunday.  In Chinese culture, the colour red symbolizes good fortune and joy.  During the 15 days Chinese New Year is celebrated, red envelopes, red lanterns, red paper-cuts, and other red decor abound.

And then there’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  Definitely not a day I’m rah rah rah about, but an occasion that many enjoy.  Red hearts, red roses, red, red, red all around.  A red ice cream is befitting for this week.

Back in Week #39, I made the most gorgeous red ice cream: Beet and Orange Ice Cream.  I’ve been racking my brain all week trying to figure out what other intensely red ice cream recipe I can develop.  I was inspired by the idea of Red Velvet Cake — layers of red-tinged chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting — but after poking around online, I realized that Red Velvet Cake recipes typically call for a ridiculous amount of red food colouring to tint the cake red.  Some recipes call for a WHOLE BOTTLE of colouring!  Adding chemicals to my ice cream recipes is the last thing I want to do!  Fortunately, I came across Bake Cakery’s post on Red Velvet Cake made with beets.  This was the perfect inspiration to use beets in another ice cream recipe and in a way that will lead to a completely different taste.  Beets + cocoa + cream cheese = all natural Red Velvet Ice Cream bliss!

I used 1.5 cup of grated beets in this recipe (compared to the 2 cups used in my Beet and Orange Ice Cream recipe) to make sure the taste of beets would not be overwhelming.  A 1/4 cup of natural cocoa powder introduces just enough of a chocolatey taste to the ice cream, and half a brick of cream cheese pays tribute to the cream cheese frosting traditionally used to frost a Red Velvet Cake while adding a subtle tang.

grated beets

Instead of using red food colouring to tint the ice cream red, this recipe uses grated beets!

The ice cream turned out reddish-brown — definitely not the same luscious red as my Beet and Orange Ice Cream or the deep garnet colour of a traditional Red Velvet Cake made with food colouring.  I was a little disappointed in the colour, but it was a small price to pay to not add any food colouring to the recipe.  If you want your Red Velvet Ice Cream to have a more brilliant red colour, go ahead, add a few drops.  Your secret is safe with me!

Red Velvet Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

1.5 cups grated beets
1/2 cup water
125 g cream cheese
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
Juice of half a lemon
3 cups half-and-half cream, divided
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt Read the rest of this entry »


Beet and Orange Ice Cream (#39)

6 12 2012

Nature creates some pretty amazing things  Take beets for instance.  A humble root vegetable with an impossibly beautiful fuschia colour.  Surely it’d make gorgeous ice cream.

If the idea of beet ice cream sounds downright weird to you, it’s probably because you are thinking of pickled beets.  No, no!  This recipe uses fresh beets, which have a fresh, natural sweetness.

beets, beetroots, farmers market

Fresh beets at the farmers market earlier this year.

Chopped beets are gently simmered, whirled into a luscious puree, then mixed into a basic custard along with some fresh orange juice and orange zest to brighten the flavour.  The taste of beets in the finished ice cream is rather subtle.  Unless you’re told or unless you have a very discerning palette, you might not even know there are beets in this recipe.  I brought samples to work and one taster thought the flavour could have passed for cherry.  Another thought it tasted like a Creamsicle.  The Official Taster LOVED this ice cream, mainly for its complex flavour.  Personally, I was more interested in the colour of the ice cream than its taste.  The custard is a glossy hot pink (I want to paint a feature wall with this colour!) and freezes to an intense, matte red.

If you’re a beet lover, you should definitely make this ice cream.  If you’re not, try this recipe anyway for the novelty factor!

Beet and Orange Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

2 cups finely chopped beets
1/2 cup water
3 cups half-and-half cream, divided
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
Juice of one orange
Finely chopped zest of one orange

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer the beets in the water and 1/2 c cup of the half-and-half until they are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Tip the beets and the liquid into a blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  4. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  5. 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).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining 1/2 c cup of the half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. When the custard is cool, whisk in the beet puree, orange zest, and orange juice.
  8. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  9. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Beet orange ice cream

The Official Taster says: “I LOVE it!  It starts off citrusy and sweet, and then you can taste the beet.”

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