Vanilla no more

Five new and not the same old ice cream flavours

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - BONNIE S. BENWICK

Can a big num­ber of tweets re­ally tell us which ice cream flavours Amer­i­cans like best? I’ll skip such so­cial-me­dia polls and stick with freshly churned data from the In­ter­na­tional Dairy Foods As­so­ci­a­tion, thank you, which finds vanilla just edg­ing out choco­late as the coun­try’s top-sell­ing ice cream flavour. Again. But wait. There’s a rea­son vanilla al­ways ranks so high year af­ter year, and it’s not be­cause we are na­tion of bland taste­buds. IDFA’s sur­veys are based on num­bers that in­clude what is sold in scoop shops, in food stores and in restau­rants. When you think about which ice cream is most of­ten placed on a la mode desserts and gets blended into shakes, the rank­ings make sense.

The flavours that tend to grab our at­ten­tion are the stuff of mad sci­en­tists, al­beit ones with good taste. To wit: your Black Se­same and your Ev­ery­thing But the Kitchen Sink, two of the flavours iden­ti­fied in this year’s sur­vey as “most dar­ing or creative.”

In es­chew­ing the same-old, we looked for in­trigue when we dove into this sum­mer’s ice cream cook­books. We mulled the mer­its of savoury in­gre­di­ents and ap­pre­ci­ated how sweet treats can trans­late into creamy smooth­ness. As al­ways, we like to keep up with the new­est ways to by­pass the churn­ing and do with­out the dairy.

Here are some new ones to try.

Roasted Car­rot Ice Cream With Hazel­nut Se­same-Seed Crum­ble 12 SERVINGS (MAKES 1 ½ QUARTS)

Roasted car­rots lend their sweet­ness and a lovely colour to this ice cream, which is graced with a ter­rific crum­ble.

We found in test­ing that honey used to coat the roast­ing car­rots tended to burn in spots and cre­ate a charred taste that does not trans­late well to the ice cream base, so you may want to watch them closely in the oven and avoid that scorch­ing.

You’ll need an in­stant-read ther­mome­ter and an ice cream maker.

MAKE AHEAD: The ice cream base needs to be re­frig­er­ated overnight. The churned ice cream needs to firm up in the freezer for at least 3 hours, and will keep for 1 to 2 months. The crum­ble will keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed con­tainer.

Adapted from “Sim­ple Fare: Spring and Sum­mer,” by Karen Mordechai (Harry N. Abrams, 2017). For the ice cream 12 medium car­rots (about 1 pound), scrubbed well 2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil ¼ cup honey 4 large egg yolks 4 cups heavy cream ¾ cup gran­u­lated sugar 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod re­served Peru­vian pink salt, for gar­nish (op­tional) For the crum­ble ½ cup gran­u­lated sugar ½ cup packed light brown sugar 2 ta­ble­spoons un­salted but­ter ½ cup wa­ter ½ cup chopped, un­salted skinned hazel­nuts 1 cup white se­same seeds

For the ice cream: Pre­heat the oven to 400 de­grees. Line a bak­ing sheet with parch­ment pa­per.

Toss the car­rots with the oil and 1 ta­ble­spoon of the honey. Ar­range them in a sin­gle layer on the pre­pared bak­ing sheet. Roast (mid­dle rack) for 20 to 35 min­utes, turn­ing once half­way through, un­til ten­der and just start­ing to caramelize (see head­note). Let cool, then trans­fer to a food pro­ces­sor and

purée un­til smooth. The yield is 1 cup.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl, un­til smooth.

Com­bine 3 cups of the heavy cream, the sugar, vanilla bean pod and seeds, and the re­main­ing 3 ta­ble­spoons of honey in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the car­rot purée un­til com­pletely in­cor­po­rated. Cook, whisk­ing, un­til the mix­ture reaches 130 de­grees, then re­move the pan from the heat.

While whisk­ing, slowly driz­zle about one-quar­ter of the cream­car­rot mix­ture into the egg yolks (to tem­per it), then pour it all back into the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to com­bine. Cook over medium-low heat, stir­ring con­tin­u­ously, un­til the mix­ture reaches be­tween 170 and 175 de­grees. Do not go above this range or the egg yolks may scram­ble. Im­me­di­ately re­move from the heat and stir in the re­main­ing 1 cup of cream. Strain the mix­ture through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass con­tainer, cover and re­frig­er­ate overnight. Dis­card the solids.

Churn the chilled ice cream base in an ice cream maker ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions. Scrape the ice cream into a jar or pan, cover with a piece of plastic wrap or parch­ment pa­per pressed directly to the sur­face of the ice cream, and freeze un­til firm, about 3 hours.

For the crum­ble: Pre­heat the oven to 350 de­grees. Line a rimmed bak­ing sheet with parch­ment pa­per.

Com­bine both sug­ars, the but­ter and wa­ter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stir­ring con­tin­u­ously, un­til the sug­ars have dis­solved and the mix­ture is bub­bling. Stir in the nuts and se­same seeds, then re­move from the heat and pour onto the bak­ing sheet. Use a spat­ula to spread the nuts and seeds into an even layer. Bake (mid­dle rack) for about 13 min­utes, un­til the syrup has set and is lightly golden. Let cool com­pletely.

Even though the cooled slab may still be pli­able, break it into pieces and trans­fer to a food pro­ces­sor; pulse to a coarse-crumb con­sis­tency.

To serve, scoop the ice cream into bowls and top with a sprin­kling of the crum­ble and pink salt, if us­ing.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing (with­out the crum­ble): 400 calo­ries, 3 g pro­tein, 24 g car­bo­hy­drates, 33 g fat, 19 g sat­u­rated fat, 170 mg choles­terol, 60 mg sodium, 1 g di­etary fi­bre, 22 g sugar

Fresh Cheese Ice Cream With Black­ber­ries 16 SERVINGS (MAKES ABOUT 1 ¼ QUARTS)

This ice cream is re­fresh­ingly tangy and tart; we think it’s a win­ner for sum­mer.

You can use re­que­son (see be­low) or queso fresco, but the lat­ter will yield a slightly saltier ice cream. You’ll need an ice cream maker.

Note: This ice cream freezes quite firm, so you may want to let it sit at room tem­per­a­ture for 20 min­utes or so be­fore scoop­ing.

Re­que­son is a fresh, ri­cotta-style Mex­i­can cheese, avail­able in Latin mar­kets.

MAKE AHEAD: The base mix­ture needs to be re­frig­er­ated for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. The churned ice cream needs to be frozen for 2 to 3 hours be­fore serv­ing.

Adapted from “Mex­i­can Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Sto­ries,” by Fany Ger­son (Ten Speed Press, 2017). 2 cups black­ber­ries, fresh or frozen 3 ta­ble­spoons con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar 2 ta­ble­spoons wa­ter 4 ounces cream cheese, at room tem­per­a­ture 6 ounces re­que­son or queso fresco (see head­note; may sub­sti­tute part-skim ri­cotta) 1 ½ cups half-and-half ½ cup gran­u­lated sugar ½ tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract 1/8 tea­spoon kosher salt 3 ta­ble­spoons light corn syrup 1 cup heavy cream

Com­bine the black­ber­ries, con­fec­tion­ers’ sugar and wa­ter in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stir­ring fre­quently, un­til the berries are bub­bling and the mix­ture has thick­ened a bit, then trans­fer to a heat­proof bowl. Gen­tly mash the berries with the back of a spoon, then cover and re­frig­er­ate un­til ready to use.

Com­bine the cream cheese, 3 ounces of the re­que­son or queso fresco, the half-and-half, gran­u­lated sugar, vanilla ex­tract, salt and corn syrup in a blender or food pro­ces­sor. Purée un­til smooth. Trans­fer to a mix­ing bowl; add the cream and the re­main­ing 3 ounces of re­que­son or queso fresco, whisk­ing gen­tly to in­cor­po­rate. The mix­ture should be slightly chunky. Cover and re­frig­er­ate un­til the base is cold, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Whisk the base to re­com­bine, then trans­fer to the con­tainer of an ice cream maker. Churn ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions. Trans­fer the ice cream to a freez­er­safe con­tainer and mix in the chilled black­berry mix­ture.

For a soft con­sis­tency, serve right away; for a firm con­sis­tency, cover and freeze for 2 to 3 hours be­fore serv­ing.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing: 180 calo­ries, 3 g pro­tein, 15 g car­bo­hy­drates, 12 g fat, 7 g sat­u­rated fat, 45 mg choles­terol, 95 mg sodium, 0 g di­etary fi­bre, 14 g sugar

Tres Leches Ice Cream 8 SERVINGS (MAKES 1 QUART)

We found the cake and base flavours were spot on, but be­came a bit muted once frozen. So, a nice driz­zle of dulce de leche on top of each served por­tion rounded things out nicely. You’ll need an ice cream maker. MAKE AHEAD: The ice cream base needs to be re­frig­er­ated for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

Adapted from “Mex­i­can Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Sto­ries.” For the cake ½ cup flour ¾ tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der Pinch kosher salt 3 large eggs, sep­a­rated in whites and yolks, at room tem­per­a­ture ½ cup sugar 3 ta­ble­spoons whole milk ¼ tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract For the ice cream One 12-ounce can evap­o­rated milk One 14-ounce can sweet­ened con­densed milk 1 ½ cups half-and-half ¾ tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract ½ tea­spoon salt

For the cake: Po­si­tion a rack in the cen­tre of the oven; pre­heat to 350 de­grees. Grease the bot­tom and sides of a 9-inch square bak­ing pan with cook­ing oil spray or baker’s spray. Line the bot­tom with parch­ment pa­per and lightly but­ter the parch­ment pa­per.

Sift to­gether the flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt into a bowl.

Com­bine the egg yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held elec­tric mixer; beat on medium speed for about 5 min­utes un­til pale and creamy. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the milk and vanilla ex­tract; beat on low speed un­til com­bined, about 1 minute more. Clean and dry the beat­ers, if us­ing.

Beat the egg whites in a sep­a­rate clean mix­ing bowl (bal­loon-whisk at­tach­ment) on low speed un­til foamy, then con­tinue to beat, grad­u­ally in­creas­ing the speed to high, un­til the egg whites hold soft peaks when the beat­ers are lifted, 2 to 3 min­utes. Con­tinue to beat on high speed while grad­u­ally adding the re­main­ing ¼ cup of sugar; stop when the egg whites hold stiff peaks and be­fore they be­ing to look dry and lumpy.

Whisk one-third of the flour mix­ture into the yolk mix­ture un­til thor­oughly com­bined. Us­ing a rub­ber spat­ula, gen­tly fold in one-third of the egg whites. Al­ter­nate fold­ing in the re­main­ing flour mix­ture and the re­main­ing egg whites in a to­tal of four ad­di­tions. Pour the bat­ter into the pre­pared pan and bake (mid­dle rack) for about 20 min­utes, un­til a tooth­pick in­serted into the cen­tre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 min­utes, then in­vert the cake onto the rack, re­move the parch­ment pa­per and al­low to cool to room tem­per­a­ture. Cut the cake into 1-inch cubes and freeze on a sheet pan un­til ready to use. (If you’d pre­fer the cake cubes to have a bit of crunch in the ice cream, be­fore freez­ing, toast them on a bak­ing sheet at 350 de­grees for about 6 min­utes, un­til golden brown.)

For the ice cream: Whisk the canned milks, half-and-half, vanilla ex­tract and salt in a large bowl un­til well com­bined. Cover and re­frig­er­ate un­til cold, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Freeze and churn in an ice cream maker ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions. Once the ice cream has fin­ished churn­ing, mix in the frozen cake pieces. For a soft con­sis­tency, serve the ice cream right away; for a firmer con­sis­tency, trans­fer it to a con­tainer, cover and al­low to harden in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing: 290 calo­ries, 10 g pro­tein, 38 g car­bo­hy­drates, 10 g fat, 4 g sat­u­rated fat, 85 mg choles­terol, 300 mg sodium, 0 g di­etary fi­bre, 28 g sugar

Rocky Road Nice Cream 6 SERVINGS (MAKES 3 CUPS)

Bananas form the base of vanilla and choco­late flavours that are blended here with your choice of mix-ins; the au­thor rec­om­mends crushed nuts, chopped dates, dried cran­ber­ries and the like, but we liked the com­bi­na­tion of choco­late chips and tof­fee bits best.

You can make this faster us­ing an ice cream maker.

MAKE AHEAD: The bananas need to be peeled, chopped and frozen at least 2 hours and up to 6 months in ad­vance. The vanilla and choco­late flavours each need to be frozen for at least 3 hours

Adapted from “Guilt-Free Nice Cream: Over 70 Amaz­ing DairyFree Ice Creams,” by Margie Broad­head (Hardie Grant, 2017). For the vanilla nice cream 2 large ripe bananas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces, and frozen (at least 2 hours) 1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract Pinch sea salt 2 Med­jool dates, pit­ted and cut into half-inch chunks 2 ta­ble­spoons co­conut cream For the choco­late nice cream 2 large ripe bananas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces, and frozen (at least 2 hours) 1 ta­ble­spoon unsweet­ened ca­cao or co­coa pow­der Pinch sea salt 2 Med­jool dates, pit­ted and cut into half-inch chunks 2 ta­ble­spoons co­conut cream ½ cup choco­late chips

For the vanilla nice cream: purée the bananas, vanilla ex­tract and salt to­gether in a food pro­ces­sor. Stop to scrape down the sides of the work bowl ev­ery 30 sec­onds and keep blend­ing un­til smooth and creamy. Add the dates and co­conut cream to the mix­ture and purée for a few more min­utes, un­til fully in­cor­po­rated.

Trans­fer the vanilla nice cream to a freezer-safe con­tainer. Cover and freeze for 3 hours, stir­ring ev­ery 30 min­utes to pre­vent ice crys­tals from form­ing. Al­ter­na­tively, pour this mix­ture into an ice cream maker and pre­pare ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions.

For the choco­late nice cream: purée the bananas, ca­cao pow­der or co­coa pow­der, and salt to­gether in a food pro­ces­sor. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl ev­ery 30 sec­onds and keep blend­ing un­til smooth and creamy. Add the dates and co­conut cream to the mix­ture and purée for a few more min­utes, un­til fully in­cor­po­rated.

Trans­fer to a freezer-safe con­tainer and mix in the choco­late chips. Cover and freeze for 3 hours, stir­ring ev­ery 30 min­utes to pre­vent ice crys­tals from form­ing. Al­ter­na­tively, pour this mix­ture into an ice cream maker and pre­pare ac­cord­ing to the man­u­fac­turer’s di­rec­tions, stir­ring in the choco­late chips at the end of churn­ing.

At the end of the 3 hours of freez­ing, trans­fer the two nice creams to a medium mix­ing bowl and gen­tly fold them a few times with­out com­pletely mix­ing. Pack into a con­tainer, cover and freeze. Al­low to sit at room tem­per­a­ture for 15 min­utes be­fore serv­ing.

Nu­tri­tion | Per serv­ing: 230 calo­ries, 2 g pro­tein, 43 g car­bo­hy­drates, 8 g fat, 5 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 50 mg sodium, 3 g di­etary fi­bre, 31 g sugar.

Clock­wise from bot­tom left: Tres leches, Rhubarb and el­der­flower sor­bet, Roasted car­rot, Fresh cheese and Nice cream.

Roasted car­rot ice cream with hazel­nut se­same-seed crum­ble.

Fresh cheese ice cream with black­ber­ries.

DEB LINDSEY PHOTOS, FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Rocky Road Nice Cream.

Tres Leches Ice Cream.

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