Gingerbread Ice Cream (#40)

13 12 2012

Let me loose in a specialty food store and I’m like a kid in an ice cream parlour — giddy and over-excited.  Last week, my co-worker Leah and I squeezed in a lunch time trip to Galloway’s Specialty Foods.  If you’re a food nerd and haven’t been to Galloway’s, you must.  Every ingredient you could possibly need for cooking and baking can be found here.  French super-blue lavender flowers?  Yes.  Gluten free chestnut flour?  Yes.  Xanthan gum?  They’ve got that too.  If we weren’t pinched for time, I could have spent hours combing through all the aisles, looking at all the products, and learning ohhhh, so *this* is where I can buy beet powder!

I wasn’t looking for anything particularly obscure during this shopping trip though — just unsulphured blackstrap molasses, the key ingredient in Week #40’s Gingerbread Ice Cream.

unsulphured molasses, blackstrap molasses, Galloway's Specialty Foods

Rich, sticky molasses

Molasses are typically made from sugar cane and come in three grades or varieties.  Light molasses is made by boiling sugar cane juice and extracting the sugar.  The residual syrup is mild and quite sweet, since relatively little sugar is removed from the sugar cane juice.  Dark molasses is produced during a second round of boiling and sugar extraction.  Blackstrap molasses is made when the syrup is boiled for a third time and most of the remaining sugar removed.  Blackstrap molasses has a dark and robust flavour and is quite high in nutritional value, especially for manganese, copper, iron, and calcium.  Lately, I’ve been stirring a spoonful into my coffee every morning!  Many people choose light or dark molasses for cooking and baking, with the concern that the taste of blackstrap molasses can be overwhelming and bitter.  Personally, I love the taste of molasses, so I used blackstrap for this ice cream recipe.

All three varieties of molasses can be sulphured or unsulphured.  Sulphured molasses is made from young sugarcane and contains sulphur dioxide as a preservative.  Unsulphured molasses is made from old sugarcane, which has a higher sugar content compared to the young stuff.  This higher sugar content acts as a natural preservative for the molasses, so there is no need to add a chemical preservative.  While sulphured and unsulphured molasses can be used interchangeably, I opt for unsulphured.  No chemicals for me, thank you very much!

When cooking the custard, I noticed it started to thicken up at 160 degrees F / 71 degrees C.  I tried to keep the custard on the flame a little longer to reach my standard 170 degrees F / 77 degrees C, but the custard definitely didn’t need any further heating.  Take it off at 160, otherwise you might end up with gingerbread scrambled eggs!!

Gingerbread ice cream is one of my new winter favourites.  As with other syrup-sweetened ice creams, it is quite scoopable even after an overnight in the freezer.  The molasses gives the ice cream a rich, dark flavour and the spices… well, they make the ice cream taste like Christmas :)  If you’re a fan of candied ginger, you might also want to add a 1/2 cup of finely chopped candied ginger to the custard in the final moments of churning.

Gingerbread Ice Cream (Makes about 1 L)

1/2 cup unsulphured molasses (light, dark, or blackstrap – your choice)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 eggs
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

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Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream (#32)

18 10 2012

After a glorious extended summer with warm days and sunshine through to early October, the rains have hit.  Raincouver is back and with a vengeance — I think it’ll probably be raining through to April.

Vancouver weather forecast

Environment Canada reports of rain, rain, rain for the entire week to come…

It’s time to hunker down.  A cozy dinner with friends is a great start… especially when my dad is cooking!

My dad is an amazing cook, and he’s always eager to host new guests who love food as much as he does.  Last Sunday, five friends joined the Official Taster, my family, and I for an amazing dinner.  We ate our little hearts out while it poured rain outside:

Home Smoked Salmon Crostini | Pulled Pork Crostini

Grilled Salmon | Grilled Romaine | Potato & Avocado Salad

Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed With Dried Apples, Apricot & Plums

Grilled Pork Ribs

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream

dinner with friends

Gathered around the table for one of many courses!

The ice cream was, of course, my contribution for the evening.  The recipe is based on Week #5’s Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream recipe, with the addition of some cinnamon, vanilla, and warming cayenne.  I’ve made this super simple recipe about a dozen times now and it’s definitely one of my favourites.  The cayenne gives the ice cream just that little bit of kick to warm you up when there’s a damp chill in the air.   Enjoy, and stay dry out there!!

Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream (makes about 1.25 L)

2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the cocoa powder and sugar.
  2. Whisk in the eggs.
  3. Very slowly, whisk in 2 cups of the half-and-half, about half a cup at a time.  It should start off like a chocolate paste, then end up like to thick chocolate syrup.
  4. Add the cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.
  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 half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.
  8. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
spicy mexican chocolate ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Make it again, Sam!”





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!”





Rhubarb Ginger Ice Cream (#13)

8 06 2012

Week #13!  This means I’m 25% through my year of ice cream making.  So far, I’m having loads of fun time developing new recipes and churning out batch after batch of delectable home made ice cream.

I really like using fresh, local ingredients, so I recently put out a call to my co-workers: If you grow interesting things in your backyard and want to bring me some freshly harvested goodies, I can probably transform it into ice cream for you.  And the next day, I came to work and found a bunch of rhubarb on my desk.  (Thanks Hildie!)

bunch of fresh rhubarb

Freshly picked rhubarb

Rhubarb is a fascinating vegetable.  It looks like pink celery and has an absolutely puckering bite if you try to eat it raw.  I thought this bunch of rhubarb ought to be cooked into a luscious compote loaded with ginger, then swirled into an ice cream custard.  Don’t be scared by the amount of ginger called for in the compote.  When mixed into the ice cream, there’s a wonderful balance of sweet and heat.  If you have a lot of rhubarb on hand, double the compote recipe and save some for topping yogurt, waffles, pancakes, or toast.

Jar of rhubarb ginger compote

Rhubarb ginger compote

Rhubarb Ginger Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream:

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

Rhubarb Ginger Compote (makes 1 cup):

2.5 cups of chopped rhubarb
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp water

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Mango Ice Cream with Chili Sea Salt a Community Pick on Food 52!

24 05 2012

What a day!  My Maple Bacon Chocolate Ice Cream is receiving fantastic reviews from a number of Unofficial Tasters, and I just found out on Twitter that my recipe for Mango Ice Cream with Chili Sea Salt was awarded with a “Community Pick” on Food 52!

Mango ice cream with chili sea salt

Mango Ice Cream with Chili Sea Salt: A “Community Pick” on Food 52!

Many thanks to the Food 52 Head Recipe Tester for choosing this recipe and for calling 52 Scoops “a little crazy”.  I will continue to strive to create both classic and crazily unusual ice cream recipes!





Ginger Ice Cream (#10)

17 05 2012

This recipe is inspired by a trip to Hawaii that Tavis and I were on five years ago this week.  Having both been Geography majors, when we were choosing which Hawaiian island to visit, we figured we must choose the one with the most to offer in terms of natural geography — active volcanoes, massive mountains, and the best representation of the world’s climate zones and flora.  Big Island!  The plan was to circumnavigate the island, spending a few nights in Kona, on the western side of the island, and a few nights in Hilo, on the eastern side.

Lava flow on road in Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

Lava on the road in Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

We flew into Kona on Air Canada’s last direct flight of the season, which meant there were less than twenty of us on board (nice!)  Kona itself was all right, nothing special I would say — a typical, touristy surf town.  Hilo, in spite of its rain (it’s the third rainiest city in the US, and yes, we did get caught in a couple of afternoon rain storms), we loved.  There was a great authenticity to this little town.  Unlike Kona, Hilo felt like it had real people, with no resort development and hoards of tourists — old Hawaii, if you will.  It was great chatting with local people.  One woman we spoke with said we absolutely must try the ginger ice cream at Hilo Homemade Ice Cream, a local ice cream parlour.  We did and, indeed, it was amazing, amazing, amazing!  It was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, with a little kick of heat.

Make sure to use fresh ginger for this recipe.  Don’t think about using the powdered stuff!

Fresh ginger from Granville Island

Ginger Ice Cream  (Makes about 1 L)

Adapted from Gourmet, November 1998

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
3 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla

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