Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Five flavors for my birthday... And burpees are the answer

My birthday celebration on Saturday involved plenty of ice cream, which I shall review in due time. It is fair to say that what I viewed as failure, others appreciated. Perhaps I should just fail at everything, since people either like my failures, or are too courteous to say that my failures are indeed failures.

The flavors:
1) Buttercream mint
2) Mojito sorbet
3) Chocolate brownie
4) Strawberry balsamic cardamom cream
5) Basil

Hit the jump for more.

The buttercream mint was a rehash of an ice cream I made for Lindsey's birthday. It is based on a recipe by Jeni Britton Bauer, who apparently makes the best ice cream in Cleveland. The first time I made it, it was somewhat of a departure for me. I have always made custard-based ice creams. Britton Bauer's recipes are different because she doesn't use traditional ingredients for her base. Instead, the source of fat in her work comes from cream cheese. Additionally, the cloying sweetness and consistency of the ice cream is also derived from... wait for it... light corn syrup. For this reason, I was reluctant to serve this ice cream, given the fact that most of my peers are at least conscious of the perils of high fructose corn syrup. Britton Bauer uses cream cheese and corn syrup because this kind of base produces a more consistent texture that is easy to scoop and doesn't harden too much. I am dubious of these claims. Perhaps in a mass-production environment use of such ingredients may be more efficient and may produce more consistent results. But in small-batch home environments, use of more natural ingredients may generate tastier results. We shall see when I reproduce this recipe in the future using my more traditional base-- incidentally I have settled on the ice cream base produced by San Francisco's Bi-Rite creamery, and published in their truly awesome ice cream cook book, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones.

Because I could not find the proper ingredients for the buttercream mint this time around, I felt that the flavoring was a little bit off. When I initially produced it for Lindsey's party, everybody raved about it. It paired wonderfully with some grilled peaches. But this time, for some reason, during the flavoring part of the process, when I was supposed to drop a few mint essence drops into the ice cream mixture, and a few natural butter flavor drops into the mix, I kept on hitting the churning paddle with the drops, and not the mix. For this reason, the flavoring didn't really get integrated into the product. Oh well. But people liked it. I have to tell my friends that it was so much better the first time around. What the heck. I thought it was a failure.

The mojito sorbet was my vegan option. I used this recipe from Allrecipes.com. It turned out wonderfully. Everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike, liked it.

The chocolate brownie was an adaptation of the chocolate ice cream recipe found in the Bi-Rite Creamery cook book. Serious Eats reviewed the recipe here. I agree with the reviewer from Serious Eats and will say that this must be the best chocolate ice cream recipe I have ever tasted. They used Hershey's Cocoa in their attempt. I used high quality Green and Black cocoa, which Leslie gave me a long, long time ago, for my version, and it was just amazing. For good measure I tossed in about a cup and a half of brownie crumbles. Because I was pressed for time, I didn't make brownies from scratch. Instead, I relied on the tried and tested Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix, which Wei tossed in the oven for me after she got through mixing the mix up). Always been a fan of the old TJ's brownies. Everybody loved this particular ice cream. Bi-Rite's recipe is truly amazing, and the brownies really kicked the ice cream chocolatey-ness up many, many notches. I will make this again.

Strawberry cardamom has always been one of my go-to flavors in ice cream making. This time around, inspired by the stellar results from the Bi-Rite chocolate ice cream, I decided to adapt my strawberry cardamom to include some of the Bi-Rite mojo. I have long been a fan of their strawberry balsamic, which I get whenever I'm in SF. The strawberry balsamic cardamom cream I made was a mash-up of my own recipe and Bi-Rites. And I present it below. This was a more complex strawberry. The balsamic is bright. The cardamom gives it a nice underlying spiciness, as if it snuck in through the back door. The strawberries I used came from Santa Cruz's Swanton Berry Farms. It's getting late in strawberry season, but theirs are still about the sweetest strawberries I've ever eaten.

Strawberry Balsamic Cardamom Cream 

1 1/2 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
2 teaspoons of balsamico
2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 pods cardamom, crushed
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, beans scraped
2 teaspoons of balsamico

1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, mix together strawberries, 2 teaspoons of balsamico and 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir frequently until strawberries are soft and the liquid they release reduces somewhat. 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. If you can put it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, even better.

2. In a medium bowl beat together 1/4 cups of sugar and 5 egg yolks. Set aside.

3. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, mix together rest of sugar, milk, cream, the cardamom and the vanilla bean. Bring liquid to a slight simmer. When the bubbles start forming around the edges, remove the cream mixture from the heat and let the spices infuse, by covering the pan and letting it be for about 20-30 minutes.

4. After infusion, temper the eggs with the warm milk mixture by mixing a half a cup of the milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Once the egg yolks have warmed enough, whisk the eggs back into the cream mixture, placing the mixture over medium heat until custard forms. This should take an additional 1-2 minutes, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Once the custard forms, remove from heat and chill the mixture. I use an ice bath. Pour the custard into a medium bowl, straining the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to make sure the custard is nice and smooth. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with water and ice. Chill for up to two hours.

5. When ready to churn, pour the set aside strawberry mix into the custard, mixing until everything is well blended. Add the two remaining teaspoons of balsamico to the mix.

6. Churn in ice cream maker, following you ice cream maker's directions.

Churning strawberry balsamic cardamom cream

The basil ice cream is a direct application of Bi-Rite's basil ice cream recipe. It was good. Different. Good.

All in all, a good time was had by all. Karaoke followed, and hilarity ensued. Fatness also ensued.

And so today my workout, courtesy of the good people of Toadal Fitness, was particularly challenging. I LIKED IT.

Burpee AMRAP Hell

25 minutes AMRAP

  • 10 one arm kettlebell swings (L)
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 one arm kettlebell swings (R)
  • 10 burpees
  • 100 meter farmer walk with the heaviest kettle bells you can do
  • 10 burpees
  • 250 meter run
  • 10 burpees


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