Hungarian Chestnut Ice Cream (Gesztenye Fagylait) (#36)

15 11 2012

The other day, my co-worker Lisa was telling me about a classic and extremely popular Hungarian dessert.  Gesztenyepüré – sweetened chestnut puree – is mixed with rum and passed through a potato ricer, then topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.  Lisa thought this would make for a fantastic ice cream flavour.  But making chestnut puree sounds incredibly… involved.  Scoring, roasting, and peeling chestnuts is not how I want to spend an evening!  Luckily, you can buy frozen chestnut puree — which Lisa did and kindly passed along.  Thanks!

Gesztenyepüré

Hungarian sweetened chestnut puree (Gesztenyepüré)

I must admit that I haven’t had had much exposure to chestnuts.  My experience is mostly limited to the chestnut-filled sponge cakes from Chinese bakeries, and I can’t say I’m enamoured by the taste and texture.  But chestnut puree + rum + whipped cream + chocolate?  You have my attention.

I thought this classic Hungarian dessert would be best represented in ice cream format by layering rum-spiked chestnut puree and shaved chocolate with a rum ice cream.  You can buy chestnut puree at most fine food stores and at European bakeries and delis.  If you can’t find it or if you are feeling particularly ambitious and want to make your own from scratch, you might want to try this recipe.  Though I do love Kraken spiced rum, I thought I ought to use plain rum for this recipe, so not to detract from the flavour of the chestnuts.  This was also an excuse to open a bottle of Venezuelan rum that was gifted to us by our friends Roman and Nathalie (thanks!).  For the chocolate shavings, I opted for Lindt 70%.

Overall, the ice cream was pretty tasty.  I loved the rum and chocolate, but I still can’t say I’m a fan of chestnuts.  It’s the mealy texture I don’t enjoy.  But, if you’re chestnut lover, give this recipe a try.  If you’re planning on storing this ice cream for more than a few hours, give it a chance to warm up before you scoop and enjoy — this will give the chestnut puree a chance to soften and for its nutty flavour to be more pronounced.

Hungarian Chestnut Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
3 tablespoons rum, divided
250 g sweetened chestnut puree
2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
1/2 cup grated dark chocolate

  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 1 tablespoon of rum.
  5. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  6. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Set aside.
  7. Thoroughly mix the chestnut puree with the remaining 2 tablespoons of rum and the 2 tablespoons of cream.
  8. Spread a quarter of the ice cream into a chilled dish.  Using a potato ricer, press about 1/3 of the chestnut puree over the ice cream.  Try to spread the strands of chestnut puree thinly and evenly over the ice cream and avoid any big clumps.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the shaved chocolate.  Repeat another two times.  Top with the remaining quarter of the ice cream.  In total, you will have three layers of chestnut/chocolate between four layers of ice cream.  Draw a metal spatula or knife through the different layers a few times to marble.  (If you don’t have a potato ricer, you can spread thin layers of chestnut puree between the layers of ice cream.)
  9. Chill thoroughly in the freezer until firm.
chestnut ice cream, Gesztenye Fagylait

The Official Taster says: “Perfect for the season.”

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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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