Backcountry Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (#53-E)

17 03 2013

Admit it.  Some of you didn’t think I’d be posting more ice cream recipes after finishing 52 Scoops.  But as promised, here’s another!

A few weeks ago, prior to this HUGE deluge of Vancouver rain, the Official Taster and I, along with our friend Jason, thought it’d be fun to head up one of the local mountains and build an igloo.  Yes, an igloo.

I hadn’t grown up camping, let alone snow camping.  The Official Taster introduced me to this activity just a few years ago, and let’s just say my first snow camping experience was rather… epic.  New Years Eve, 2009/10.  Mount Seymour.  22 hours of rain and sleet.  Two people who were sent down around midnight because they wouldn’t have lasted the night.  Huddling under a tarp in the morning hoping for a break in the weather so we could pack up and haul all our gear, plus the evacuees’ abandoned gear, down the mountain.  I think my body needed three days to recover after that!

But I’ve since grown to love snow camping.  Because when you can fall asleep to something like this…

winter camping

Mount Seymour. Photo courtesy of Peter G.

… Or wake up to something like this…

Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park

Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park

… It’s pretty amazing.

And when you introduce a snow saw to your arsenal of winter gear, it gets even more fun.  Because you can play around and cut out sleeping platforms like this:

Sleeping platform cut into a huge snow bank.  Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver.  (Photo courtesy of Dave F.)

Sleeping platform cut into a huge snow bank. Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Dave F.)

Even better, you can cut blocks to build igloos, as the O.T., Jason, and I did recently:

building igloo

The Official Taster laying igloo blocks. Black Mountain, Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver

igloo, winter camping

The finished igloo!

Knowing we were going to be building a warm, cozy snow shelter, Jason had suggested we might as well get fancy with food – why not churn a batch of ice cream up on the mountain?

A half-pint jar of custard and my half-pint Baby Donvier wouldn’t add that much weight to my backpack, and since I had some leftover blackberry puree from my blackberry escapades last summer and a block of cream cheese in the fridge, an egg-free Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream it was then!

Donvier half pint ice cream maker, blackberry cheesecake ice cream, blackberry ice cream

Churning out a mini batch of ice cream in the backcountry.

As expected, the ice cream did not firm up as much as it usually does when I churn it at home, since the inner frozen cylinder — though packed in the snow while we were busy igloo building — was not at its optimal ultra-cold temperature.  But after two and a half hours of cutting, hauling, shaping, and stacking blocks, we were hungry and happy to have a treat to enjoy, even if it was a bit on the soft side.

Backcountry Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained blackberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
250 g cream cheese, softened
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
2 cups half-and-half cream

  1. Puree the blackberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Place the cream cheese in the (now empty) blender.  Add half of the blackberry puree and blend at medium speed.  Scrape down the sides.  Add the remaining blackberry puree and blend some more.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
inside igloo with ice cream

Jason, the Igloo Builder and Guest Taster, says: “This tastes pretty good!”

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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 »





Carrot Cake Ice Cream (#21)

2 08 2012

The last few weeks have been all about light and fresh summer fruit flavours, so a warm and cozy flavour like carrot cake might seem a little bit out of place in August.  But this flavour is in honour of my co-worker Greg, who is getting married this weekend!  When I learned a few months ago that he and his fiancee were choosing carrot cake as one of their wedding cake flavours, I pre-scheduled Carrot Cake Ice Cream for Week #21.  It’s an unusual ice cream flavour, but with carrots as cute as these at the local markets, who can’t resist picking up a couple of bunches and creating some carrot cake ice cream awesomeness with them?!

bunches of fresh carrots

Carrots galore!

Similar to my Hot Cross Buns Ice Cream recipe, the challenge here was to mimic the taste of carrot cake without churning actual bits of cake into a basic vanilla ice cream.  The recipe needed to balance the myriad of flavours of carrot cake — sweet carrots and raisins, a touch of cinnamon, subtle notes of vanilla, toasty pecans, and tangy cream cheese frosting.  After some tweaking, I arrived at the recipe below.  Out of season or not, it’s delicious.

The Official Taster is taking a break from tasting this week.  Though he enjoyed Week #19’s Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, he has declared he does not want to sample any more ice creams containing cream cheese  (???!!!)  So, this week’s Guest Taster is the groom-to-be himself.  Congratulations Greg, and all the best to you & Darlana!

Carrot Cake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.5 L)

6 to 10 carrots (depending on size; you’ll need enough to yield 1.5 cups of cooked carrot puree)
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups half-and-half cream
125 g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

  1. Peel and dice the carrots and place into a saucepan.  Add enough water to just cover the carrots.  Add a pinch of sugar.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until the carrots are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Strain the carrots, reserving the cooking water.  Puree the carrots in in a blender with two or three tablespoons of the cooking water until smooth, scraping the sides down as necessary.  Measure out 1.5 cups of carrot puree.  Let cool.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  4. 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).
  5. 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 to room temperature.
  6. Place the carrot puree and the cream cheese in the blender.  Add one third of the custard and blend at medium-low speed to combine.  Scrape down the sides.
  7. Add the remaining custard and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Add the raisins to the mixture and chill overnight in the fridge to allow the raisins to plump up and the flavours to mellow.
  9. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  10. In the final stages of churning, add the toasted pecans.
carrot cake ice cream

Greg, this week’s Guest Taster, says: “Two thumbs up!”





Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (#19-E)

19 07 2012

Since I come from a family that LOVES food and cooking, I started playing around in the kitchen at quite an early age.  One of my earliest memories of “baking” was mixing together random amounts of butter, flour, milk, and baking powder, forming a few crude biscuits, popping them in the oven (a REAL oven, not an Easy Bake), and excitedly offering them to my dad when he came home from work.  And yes, he ate them (thanks Dad!)… even though I’m sure they were dense little pucks with a flakiness rating of zero.  Luckily, with some guidance from my parents, my baking skills steadily progressed and by grade 6, I could make some pretty mean cheesecakes — double chocolate, pumpkin, citrus, rocky road, and raspberry to name a few.  Raspberry cheesecake was probably my favourite.  With raspberry season in full swing, I thought it’d be the perfect time to reinvent one of my favourite childhood desserts into an egg-free ice cream recipe.

fresh raspberries

Fresh raspberries at Granville Island Market

Raspberries might look sweet and delicate, but they have surprisingly bitter seeds.  For this recipe, be sure to strain out the seeds from the raspberry puree.  I admit I had a moment of laziness in the test kitchen.  I neglected this step and used 2 cups of raspberry puree that included seeds.  The resultant ice cream was okay but it seemed to lack berry flavour and had somewhat of a bitter aftertaste.  I was more diligent during Round #2 of testing, whirling the berries in a blender at low speed to break them up, and then pressing the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  I realized I needed almost twice as many berries than I had previously used in order to get two cups of seedless puree — half the volume of the berry puree was, in fact, those pesky bitter seeds!  This explained the lacklustre, tannic flavour of the first batch of ice cream.  So I will emphasize again: strain out the seeds for ultra berry-liciousness!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream is absolutely perfect for summer — sweet, tangy, refreshing, and PINK!  Enjoy and eat often!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained raspberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
250 g cream cheese, softened
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
2 cups half-and-half cream
Graham cracker crumbs for garnish (optional)

  1. Puree the raspberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Place the cream cheese in the (now empty) blender.  Add half of the raspberry puree and blend at medium speed.  Scrape down the sides.  Add the remaining raspberry puree and blend some more.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. If desired, garnish with graham cracker crumbs.
bowl of raspberry cheesecake ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Should I say something cheesy?”








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