Tuesday, January 25, 2011

#4 Cinnamon Chocolate Kiss

Last year I had the privilege to assist Kip over at Bierkast with the brewing of a pumpkin beer. The beer was called Kurbis Stout and it was delicious! You can read more about it here: HYPERLINKBLOGTRANSPORT. Kurbis is the German word for Pumpkin in case you were wondering why a pumpkin beer would be called something that has no meaning in the English language. Kip brews many unique and tasty beers and keeps tabs on the industry over at Bierkast. I definitely recommend following his blog if you're interested in home brewing and/or beer!

Anyway, late last year Kip requested that I make a special batch of Cookies n' Cream Ice Cream that he could take to an office party. His coworkers enjoyed the ice cream so much that he asked me to make another ice cream for them! (So, yes, I will take special requests...)

We agreed upon a chocolate ice cream with a twist to the flavor and so the end result became chocolate cinnamon. As I was pondering over the recipe I remembered I had a number of Hershey's milk chocolate kisses left over from the holiday season. Perfect. They would provide the chocolate flavor, but I didn't have enough, so I had to go buy extra kisses (CHOCOLATES) from the grocery store, which worked out fine because I also needed to pick up some milk and cream. I've been saving my receipts, so I'm going to start keeping track of the total cost of this 52 week ice cream project!

When I got home I began peeling the aluminum wrappers off the kisses. This activity was semi-relaxing but I wouldn't want to make a habit out of it. I probably unwrapped about seventy-five or so.

40 kisses (about 2 cups) were melted on low heat and added to the basic ice cream ingredients. Then I whipped it all up with the immersion blender's whipping attachment, added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon extract and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, then 3 cups of cream, chilled it, churned it, and voila: Cinnamon Chocolate Kiss Ice Cream!

Kip and I later chatted about the reaction he and his colleagues had about the ice cream. Here are some candid quotes from the discussion about what everyone had to say:

"Everyone had it and said "Wow!" on their first bite and they all ate it fast."

"It was very cinnamony."


"The cinnamon was lost in the Hershey [milk chocolate] flavor."

"It may have been too sweet for some people, but then again it was like soft serve and was amazing."

"Did people get second helpings?"

"No, because there wasn't any left; they put stuff down they don't want to eat."

Overall, it sounds like a very positive reaction. Woohoo!

I just grabbed the half-pint I saved and I'm tasting it now. The milk chocolate is very strong, followed by a cinnamon after taste. It is reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate in a sense - at least that flavor was very apparent when the mixture was being prepared... I was tempted to pour myself a steaming mug full at the time. :-)

This ice cream IS very sweet because of the sugar from the Hershey's Kisses AND the 1 cup of sugar in the recipe. Next time I would reduce the amount of sugar that goes in, perhaps to half a cup, or even use dark chocolate which is not as sweet. Nonetheless, if you have an extreme sweet tooth like me then you probably wouldn't mind the extra sugar! Oops... I just finished the rest of it.

Until next time!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fancy Food Show

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. There's only one word to describe it: AMAZING. It's like Comic-Con for foodies - 4.5 miles of exhibit-booths with endless samples of tasty, tasty food. There was a lot of cheese, olive oil, jams, jellies, meats, cookies, crackers, chocolates, candies, ice creams, gelato, teas... everything! Some of the bigger companies present included Jelly Belly, Ghirardelli, Harry & David's, Hickory Farms, and Knott's Berry Farm.

La Tourangelle was there too. I told them how I made pistachio ice cream using their pistachio oil. I also got a little catalogue of all the oils they make - maybe I'll make another ice cream featuring La Tourangelle's flavored oils in the future!

I sampled quite a few ice creams and gelati (plural of gelato!) as well. Double Rainbow Gourmet Ice Creams had an awesome Soy Mint Chip and McConnell's Fine Ice Cream from Santa Barbara had a luxurious Peppermint Bark ice cream.

One of the representatives from Sendai Miso suggested I use their miso soup packets to make miso ice cream, and that he may even be able to obtain a recipe for me! So I got his card and will email him later.

I also met Mike the new owner of Cone Guys, a company based out of Pennsylvania that makes specialty ice cream cones featuring four flavors: chocolate, cookie with mini M&Ms, chocolate chip cookie, and pretzel!

Another interesting product was eCreamery's At Home ice cream flavorings. They currently offer four flavors that can be used in any at home ice cream maker: 3 Cocoa Bean Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Buttered Caramel, and Tiramisu Cappuccino. I may have to order of few of those and give them a try this year! They even make personalized ice cream and deliver it right to your door. Awesome!

A few other products I sampled and enjoyed were:
Be-Bop Biscotti (a perfect edible accent for a scoop of ice cream)
Amoretti flavor syrups (their large selection of flavors could be used to make a plethora of ice creams!)
Guittard baking chips (these tasty chips come in many different flavors and would make excellent mix-ins!)
Natural Vines Licorice (imagine reducing licorice and making a licorice ice cream?!)

Coming soon - the next ice cream: chocolate with a twist!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#3 Vanilla Cinnamon Crumbled Crumb Donut

Junk food.

Yeah, that's what this week's ice cream is... there's no better way to put it. Tasty, tasty, junk food. One of my staple 'road trip' food items are the crumb donuts that often come in a little package of 6 (or a big box of 24). You probably know what I'm talking about... Hostess makes them. They're actually called donettes which is likely just a made up word for mini-donut. My other snacks for long road trips are located in the picture to your right. Some people like to purchase healthy snacks when going on road trips (i.e. Nikki from Nikki Travels - check her out - she's amazing). To your left is what Nikki bought on that same road trip: brie...basil...tomatoes...(sheesh!)

ANYWAY, DONUTS. Eating crumb donuts while driving is super messy; you'll get crumbs everywhere. Ideally, they should be eaten over a trash can unless you want to vacuum or sweep up after yourself.

So here's what I did with these messy delicious donuts: I put them into the food processor until they were transformed from donuts into donut bits! Then I made a simple ice cream, flavoring it with two tablespoons of vanilla extract and one tablespoon of cinnamon extract. The cinnamon flavor is definitely dominant in this ice cream - in fact the ice cream itself almost tastes like a cinnamon candy. If you like cinnamon this could be your dream come true.

While the ice cream was freezing and churning I added a hefty amount of the crumbled crumb donut bits - about 2 cups. That's a lot of mix-in for a 2 quart batch of ice cream. Usually I just use about 1 cup. Not surprisingly: the more donut crumbs - the more crumb donut taste in each bite of ice cream. The cinnamon flavor of the ice cream blends perfectly with the taste of the crumb donuts...because there's already cinnamon in them. It's like they were made for each other.

Miraculously, a single scoop of ice cream formed in the machine as it was churning... I was tempted to grab a spoon and dig in right then and there. But I resisted. When the ice cream was done, I added a decorative and commemorative donut layer on top out of respect for the many donut crumbs that have fallen into oblivion throughout history. These particular donut crumbs are lucky for they will be preserved within the ice cream... at least for a little while.

The next day when I tried the ice cream I accidentally created an 8th type of sin: ULTRA GLUTTONY.

A vanilla cinnamon crumbled crumb donut ice cream sandwich using two crumb donuts.

Out. of. Control.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#2 Roasted Pistachio Pistachio

It's time for ice cream #2!

Usually when I make an ice cream I peruse places of knowledge (books, internet, memories) for recipes and any tips that might help with what I want to do. One of my primary ice cream resources is David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop". The recipes are great and the pictures are amazing. If you're interested in making ice cream I would highly suggest picking up a copy.

David's recipes primarily use egg yolks to form a custard base, which is supposedly the French way of doing things (French Vanilla is French because of the egg yolks, that's why it's more yellow than not-French vanilla). Egg yolks act as an emulsifier, which helps to hold all the ingredients in the ice cream together, improving texture and creaminess. But I've found that the amount of eggs needed in ice cream can be excessive and expensive, and having made ice cream with eggs and without eggs I find I can get my ice creams to still be very creamy without the addition of egg yolks - plus I'm on a budget! Also, eggs can be dangerous if the custard base doesn't reach a high enough temperature. So, you can assume that most of the ice creams made will be eggless. If eggs are used, you'll know.

Anyway, I used two different pistachio ingredients to impart the pistachio flavor into this week's ice cream, hence the 'pistachio pistachio' in its name.

First up, La Tourangelle Roasted Pistachio Oil which has been in my fridge for a few months AND of course: actual pistachios!

In my haste of purchasing the pistachios I didn't check the ingredients - the pistachios I bought were shelled and salted. They are REALLY salty. This would have never worked right in the ice cream, so I improvised: I WASHED THEM!

The saltiness was reduced substantially. I let them dry and then chopped them up. The mortar and pestle was inefficient so I broke out the handy 1.5 cup chopper. Thanks, Chefmate.

The roasted pistachio oil went into the initial ice cream base as it was heated and the chopped up pistachios were churned into the ice cream about 3 minutes before it finished.

The sugariness of the ice cream base mingled with the roasted pistachio oil to create a wonderful flavor. Add in the texture and taste of the crushed pistachios and you get a total bonanza of pistachioness! Of course, the ice cream didn't take on a green color like the pistachio ice creams you might find in a store... because those use food coloring! I may use some food coloring in the future to spice some of these ice creams up with attractive colors so they become more photogenic.

Here's the final product with a sprinkle of whole pistachios on top!

Friday, January 7, 2011

#1 Fresh Garden Mint

This is Herbert, a mint plant I acquired last Sunday at a local Farmers' Market. Herbert is the inspiration for the first ice cream of 2011: Fresh Garden Mint. Herbert is still too young to provide all of the mint necessary for the ice cream, so I purchased fresh mint from a local grocery store. Maybe that means I shouldn't call this ice cream fresh "garden" mint, but I'm going to call it that anyway because this was a trial run for the day when Herbert can begin producing abundant and tasty mint leaves for use in many ice creams.

Fresh Garden Mint came into being late last night. When I arrived home from work I began steeping the mint leaves in milk and sugar. Then after some intense heating and whipping and chilling I went out to dinner at Casa Sanchez and had the most amazing molé chicken enchiladas ever. After getting home from dinner I put the chilled ice cream mixture into the ice cream maker and then, finally, the final product emerged...and sprouted a sprig of mint itself! Okay, I put that mint leaf on there to make the scoop look more appealing. Did it work?

(Mint Moon Rising...)
Having made a mint ice cream previously using mint extract, I have to say that the flavor of this ice cream is not a strong as I personally would have liked. But then again I absolutely LOVE mint... mint chocolate chip ice cream has always been my favorite flavor. There has never been another. The mint taste in this ice cream is fresh, mild, and lasting - it's a very natural flavor. In the future I plan to steep the mint leaves for an hour or more so that all their delicious minty flavors are set free. I may also try using an immersion blender to blend them into the ice cream mixture, then strain the mixture to remove any stray leaf particles. I used this procedure last year with a basil ice cream, which turned out amazing. We'll probably be visiting minty ice creams a lot throughout the year for the obvious reason mentioned previously.

One more thing: this ice cream turned out to be a very slight barely noticeable shade of green. Okay, maybe it's white. I would have liked it to be green, though, because green ice cream just screams, "MINT!" Or sometimes "Pistachio"...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Taste of Things to Come

In July of 2010 I discovered the awesome art of ice cream making while attending a cooking demonstration at Rosa Mexicano in downtown Los Angeles. A Cuisinart 2 quart ice cream maker was raffled off at the end of the demonstration. And I didn't win it. Total sadface.

But a few days later, still eager to make my own ice cream, I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought the same ice cream maker with one of those handy blue 20% off coupons that the Beyond sends to me every week...and then the adventure truly began!

Last year I made 17 ice creams. I'll let you know more about them in the future. This year I plan to make at least 52 ice creams. That's a lot of ice cream and it might hamper my other resolution to eat more healthy foods. This is a definite Catch 22. My secret plan is to give most of the ice creams I make to my friends so that I don't eat it all myself. Uh oh. I guess that's not a secret at anymore.

Anyway, I digress. The last ice cream I made in 2010 was a special Christmas themed ice cream: Peppermint Candy Cane Crunch.

The peppermint flavor was super strong. Perhaps because 3 tablespoons of peppermint extract might be too much, but what can I say, I love that tasty menthol flavor. Mouthwash ice cream anyone? Just kidding. The ice cream itself was originally a solid white color, but through the addition of crushed candy cane bits it took on a fancy red and white swirly hue. Okay, maybe it was just pink. See for yourself...

To your left is a picture of a scoop of Peppermint Candy Cane Crunch garnished with some semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips. It was mmm mmm good.

Another interesting fact about this particular ice cream is that it did not freeze hard. It never had to sit out a few minutes after being taken out of the freezer. Its scoopability was just superb. But then, so was its meltability. I'm not sure exactly why this happened. It may have been caused by the amount of alcohol from the hefty additions of peppermint extract as alcohol can easily lower the freezing point of ice cream (or anything you intend to freeze). On the opposite side of the freezability spectrum was my tart Thanksgiving themed Cranberry Sauce with White Chocolate Chips ice cream creation (which was one-third cranberry sauce)! It froze super hard and needed to sit out at least 15 minutes before being served.

So, you may be wondering, what's next? Well, ice cream #1 of 2011 will be another ice cream of the menthol variety. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Flavor, One Week

There are 52 weeks in a year.

There are 240,958,240 flavors of ice cream. Actually, there are infinite flavors of ice cream. Yes, infinite flavors... but the creation of infinite flavors would take infinite lifetimes, and I am not a Time Lord. (But I am a nerd.)

Anyway. I am proposing a grand experiment, one to parallel creation itself! Doesn't that sound epic?

Yes. I am proposing the creation of 52 flavors of ice cream. One flavor per week (on average) for the rest of the year (2011).

Now, some of these flavors will have been tried and tested throughout history. Others will never have been tasted before (and perhaps, based on what they are - may never be tasted ever.)

Additionally, there will be other types of adventures into the world of ice cream, such as: Stabilizers. WTF are they? Eggs. Does ice cream REALLY need them? Soy, sorbet, sherbet... (Did you know there's not supposed to be a second R in sherbet [sherbert]. Thanks, spell check!)

And there will be reviews of the desserty tastes and flavors from fancy hip yummy places and not-so-fancy good ole American establishments. I mean, seriously, it's been 7 years since I've had a Frosty - ever since I heard they put cement in them - but is that really true? Let's find out! Together.

What this is - what this will become - is a magical interweb place of ice cream dreams and wishes, where America's #1 dessert can be created and explored.

Happy New Year!