Avocado Ice Cream (#47-E)

2 02 2013

Organic avocados were on sale this week for $1 each.  While I typically pounce on sales, I’ve always been a bit cautious with sale avocados.  Will they be a perfect creamy green inside or a brown icky mess?  It’s always been a bit of a gamble for me… until I recently stumbled upon this neat little tip from The Kitchn on how to tell if an avocado is perfectly ripe inside.  Pop off the dry button on the stem end of the fruit.  If it’s green underneath, the avocado is ripe.  If it’s brown, it’s past its prime and most likely brown and stringy inside.

Avocado

Score.  That little trick from The Kitchn worked!  Perfectly ripe inside!

So, what to do with three perfectly ripe avocados?  Ice cream of course!

Avocado Ice Cream might sound rather bizarre, but in Southeast Asia, avocados are typically used for sweet rather than savoury dishes.  When I was travelling in Vietnam, when I wasn’t sipping an iced Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk (cà phê sữa đá), I had an avocado milkshake (sinh tố bơ) in hand.  Avocado milkshakes are rich and buttery in taste and ultra smooth in texture.  Surely avocados would work well in ice cream.

This egg-free ice cream recipe is super simple: blitz four ingredients in a blender, chill, churn, done.  I would suggest that you churn the avocado mixture as soon as it is thoroughly chilled (about four hours), otherwise the mixture will start to discolour and darken from contact with air.

Results?  An amazingly smooth, creamy, and pillowy soft ice cream with the rich taste of avocado and just a hint of caramel from the condensed milk.  Be careful with this one, it might be hard to stop yourself from eating the whole batch in one sitting!!

Avocado Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.5 L)

2.5 cups half-and-half cream
3 avocados
Juice of half a lemon
225 mL (3/4 can) sweetened condensed milk (save the rest for cà phê sữa đá)
1/4 cup white sugar (optional)

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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!”





Caramelized Pineapple Ice Cream (#18)

11 07 2012
Dairy Queen pineapple sundae

My weakness!

I have a confession.  Even though I’ve committed to a year of ice cream making (over one-third of the way through!!!), I still, on occasion, like going to Dairy Queen.  Pineapple sundaes are a bit of a weakness for me.  I don’t care what crazy, unpronouceable ingredients go into them.  I am a sucker for sweet soft serve ice cream and tangy pineapple.  But when I mentioned the other day that I wanted a DQ pineapple sundae, the Official Taster raised an eyebrow and gave me a look.  While Tavis did oblige and let me indulge, I knew it was time to develop a 52 Scoops pineapple treat.

I used to think that pineapples were really finicky to peel and cut.  When Tavis and I were visiting the floating markets in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam last year, we marvelled at the ability of the pineapple vendors.  The vendors, mostly women, have perfected the art of peeling and spiral cutting a pineapple in just a minute or two. They are MACHINES, carving perfect little hand-held snacks for boatloads of happy travellers passing through the delta.

Floating market pineapple vendor

Pineapples, pineapples everywhere!

Woman cutting pineapple

Pineapple Lady expertly peeling a pineapple

Spiral cutting a pineapple

Spiral cutting out the eyes of the pineapple

Fresh pineapple

Yum!

Here’s a link to a very helpful spiral cutting technique video on YouTube.  Once you practice a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll never need to buy canned or pre-cored/cut pineapple again!

For this ice cream recipe, I caramelized the pineapple in a little bit of butter and brown sugar.  Cooking the pineapple takes away the acidic bite on your tongue and results in a deeper, richer taste.  The addition of rum keeps the pineapple from freezing into solid chunks, while imparting another layer of flavour.  When the caramelized pineapple is churned into a simple vanilla base — absolutely exquisite!

Caramelized Pineapple Ice Cream (#18)  (Makes about 1.5 L)

Ice Cream:

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Caramelized Pineapple (makes about 2 cups):

3 cups of fresh pineapple tidbits (half to one pineapple, depending on size and your peeling abilities)
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rum (I used spiced rum)

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