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ice cream

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Well, hello. It’s really been a while this time, but I’m going to try to get back into the swing of this thing for real. It’s been just about two years since I last updated this blog, which is really wild. First life just got in the way, in the form of moving and starting new things and not having a reliable, homey, well-stocked kitchen to cook in. Then, after a while, not-blogging just kept on being not-blogging. I can’t promise that I’ll post here particularly regularly, but hopefully I can follow through on making it at least a once-in-a-while thing to start off with. I’ll see where that takes me.

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I can’t recall the exact moment when I decided to venture into the world of homemade ice cream. Throughout my childhood it was family tradition to make strawberry sorbet in the summer, but our ice cream maker sat unused the rest of the year until I intervened. And once you become that one person in your family who makes ice cream, your ice cream quickly becomes a staple of holiday celebrations. Much like any other holiday food, there is a certain tension between wanting to experiment and wanting to stick with what has proven to work before.

I’ve made pumpkin ice cream for several Thanksgivings, following the recipe from my trusty Ben & Jerry’s cookbook, but it always fell flat. It was too heavy on the pumpkin and rather uninteresting (my new theory is that their recipe was designed to be made with a custard, but it didn’t work right as the egg-free ice cream I prefer to make). This year, finally, I came up with new recipes, one vegan and one dairy, for pumpkin ice creams that I am happy with.

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I originally wanted something a little lighter on the pumpkin, more heavily spiced, and sweetened with maple syrup. The first time I tried it out was the vegan version for our Friendsgiving celebration. I used a mixture of coconut milk and coconut cream for texture, and because I couldn’t find unsweetened coconut cream, I had to scrap the maple (it was already plenty sweet!). I also had to increase rather than decrease the pumpkin so that it could stand out against the coconut flavor.

The second time around, for actual Thanksgiving, I used my standard ice cream base of heavy cream and half and half, reduced the pumpkin, increased the spices, and added chocolate chips. You could put chocolate in the vegan version as well, but for the purposes of this post I’m writing the recipes as I made them.

See you soon (I promise)!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

4 oz dark chocolate

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

3/8 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

pinch salt

Melt chocolate, then pour it onto a parchment-covered plate and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula. Freeze until solid. Then, chop the chocolate into pieces and return it to the freezer.

Whisk all ice cream ingredients to combine, then freeze in an ice cream maker. Just before it is done, add the chocolate chunks from the freezer.

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Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Ice Cream

13 oz can coconut milk

15 oz can coconut cream

15 oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

pinch salt

Whisk the coconut milk and cream over low heat until they are warmed and smooth, then whisk in the pumpkin and spices. Chill in the refrigerator, then freeze in an ice cream maker.

(If you are lucky enough to find unsweetened coconut cream, then you can sweeten your ice cream with maple syrup to taste.)

 

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Hello, blog.  It’s been a while.  I never meant for this little hiatus to happen.  But let’s move past it, shall we, and talk about ice cream.  I’d originally wanted to come up with a Hanukkah ice cream that would be made with sweet potatoes (instead of the standard latke potatoes), sour cream, and applesauce.  But while I was doing some research to figure out what ratios of ingredients to use, I came across this recipe in The Perfect Scoop that I couldn’t not make instead.

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This ice cream doesn’t have any cream or eggs in it, just whole milk, but it is still perfectly creamy thanks to a whole sweet potato’s worth of puree.  (And it’d be really easy — and delicious — to make it vegan by substituting coconut milk).

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But, in some ways (or maybe a lot of ways), this ice cream is really just a vehicle for the maple-glazed pecans, which are amazing.  I’m surprised we managed not to eat all of them before they made it into the ice cream.  I almost want to put them in every single ice cream I make from now on, or just keep a giant vat of them around at all times for general snacking… would that be too extreme?

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Basically, this tastes like pie filling in ice cream form.  I meant to make Hanukkah ice cream and somehow ended up with Thanksgiving ice cream instead, but I’m totally okay with that.

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Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Maple-Glazed Pecans (from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled

1 cup plus 2 tbsp whole milk

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

A few drops lemon juice

For the nuts:

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp dark amber maple syrup

1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Big pinch of salt

Heat the maple syrup and salt in a small saucepan until it just begins to come to a full boil.  Stir in the pecans, then cook until the syrup returns to a full boil.  Stir the nuts for 10 seconds, then remove them from the heat and let cool completely.  They will still be wet and sticky when cooled, but the remaining syrup will have solidified a bit more.

Cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes, place them in a medium saucepan, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender when poked with a sharp knife.  Drain the sweet potatoes and let cool to room temperature.

Put the milk, brown sugar, sweet potato pieces, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a blender.  Puree until very smooth, at least 30 seconds.  Add lemon juice to taste.  Press the mixture through a mesh strainer.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in an ice cream maker.  Add the pecans near the end of the freezing time.

Sometime this past spring, I discovered cold-brewed coffee, and it was a miracle.  I’m sure everyone around me must have gotten tired of hearing me go on and on about it endlessly.  But it really is pretty brilliant.  Making it involves nothing more than mixing up some coffee and water and letting it all sit at room temperature for a while.  It’s a lot smoother and less bitter than coffee made with hot water, and it is mainly really excellent for iced coffee, because it makes a coffee concentrate that you can just store it in the fridge for whenever you want to drink it.  It’s also, apparently, really good in ice cream.

When a friend and I decided (sort of spontaneously) to make ice cream the other day, coffee seemed like a good choice because of the cold brew we had in the fridge.  And I’m happy to report that it was a good idea!  A very very good idea.  This ice cream contains not just cold-brewed coffee, but also some coffee-steeped milk.  It’s nicely coffee-flavored, although to give it a stronger flavor you could increase the coffee/milk steeping time (we only left it for about 45 minutes, the time it took us to go buy some cream), or the amount or strength of the cold brew.  I also really like that it’s not too creamy; instead, it’s light and just a little bit icy from the milk and water, which makes it more refreshing like iced coffee.

Cold-Brewed Coffee (from Smitten Kitchen)

The general ratio for this is 1/3 cup of ground coffee to 1.5 cups of water (adjust to make the amount of coffee that you want).  Combine the coffee and water in a jar, and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours.  Then strain and filter it, and store it in the fridge.  This makes a coffee concentrate; to drink it, dilute it half-and-half with water or milk.

Cold-Brewed Coffee Ice Cream

2 tbsp. ground coffee

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup cold brew concentrate

About 1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the coffee and milk in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour (or longer, for a stronger coffee flavor).  Strain the milk and add the sugar to it, whisking until the sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in the cream, cold brew, and vanilla, and then freeze in an ice cream maker.

This would be good with heath bars mixed in, or anything else chocolatey, really.  I haven’t experimented yet with different coffee strengths, but you could adjust the amount and/or strength of the cold brew, as well as the milk-brewed coffee.  Depending on how you adjust the coffee, you might also want to adjust the amount of sugar.

Dad’s birthday kind of got overshadowed this year.  It was the day after my graduation, and the day I moved back home.  I was a little (okay, a lot) more sad and mopey than it’s fair to be on anyone’s birthday.  Now that a little time has passed, a birthday pie was in order.

While it’s not quite full-on strawberry season here yet, we had lots of rhubarb in the garden that made its way into this pie.  Mom made crepes filled with asparagus from a farm down the road for dinner.  It’s definitely summer.

I used our usual pie crust, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s from The Pie and Pastry Bible, and a strawberry rhubarb filling recipe from Carole Walter’s Perfect Pies and Tarts.  Only after the pie came out of the oven did I remember that I’d used this filling recipe once before and it had turned out very wet and soupy.  It was the same way this time — basically half pie, half soup.  Not something I’ll do again.  On the bright side, though, we now have plenty of strawberry rhubarb sauce to put on the ice cream.

This ice cream is a new variation on a recipe I started adapting a few years ago from one of David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream recipes.  This time making it, I decreased the sugar and replaced some of it with maple syrup, and also cut back the vanilla.  It’s still primarily a vanilla ice cream, with a subtle maple flavor.

Maple Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
 
Combine the sugar and some of the cream in a bowl, and whisk briskly for a minute or so to make sure it’s thoroughly combined.  Add in the rest of the cream and the other ingredients, and whisk everything together.  Chill in the refrigerator and then freeze in an ice cream maker.