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Monday, February 25, 2019

White Chocolate Cardamom Ice Cream

I'm a huge fan of combining strong flavors. The one of the basic lessons of good cooking that you learn first is you want to find a balance between components. I once saw a node chart that showed all of the different components of recipes when looked at on the international scale. It showed that most western/Eurocentric recipes combined components and ingredients that shared the  same compounds. This meant that things like butter, potatoes, cream/milk were combined along with salt and pepper. What it showed on eastern/Asian recipes was that it was most-likely to combine things of opposing components, such as sweet honey and hot chilies, or sharp vinegar with sweet and fermented oyster sauce, which creates something very dynamic. Check this out!

You can read the article about it here!

To make a western pork dish, say a pork chop, you would likely marinate in buttermilk or just a nice oil-spice rub if you were feeling fancy. You'd likely do minimal processing because you want to let the ingredient speak for itself. If you were creating an eastern pork dish, there would be a lot more processing to do. You'd likely combine mellow scallions with hot ginger and sharp garlic with salty soy or miso. You might chop finely or in chunks, then marinate it and deep fry each piece in a batter, then drench it in sauce. The point is that these cultures have different ways of cooking and eating, and understanding it a little better might help one understand why in the world I'd put cardamom and white chocolate together.

I realize it's possibly unusual to most, but you'd be surprised at how popular a combination of these flavors of white chocolate and cardamom are! A quick search will show you the many recipes with this flavor combination. The idea is that white chocolate is so super-sweet but cardamom, which is slightly pungent, incredibly aromatic and almost fruity, gives a wonderful new depth. If you think this is a spice only for South Asian or Middle Eastern, consider that one of the countries that use the most cardamom globally is Sweden. This is likely because the Swedes opened up trades to the East Indies first, with their Viking days!

Ice cream is a food product that has mostly fat in it. Fat is generous and gives you a lot of room to work. If a flavor is fat soluble, you can really get crazy with it. You can do chocolate ice cream with cayenne in it - the heat and flavor will be perfect with the fat of the ice cream. You can steep fresh mint in your milk or cream to get that gorgeous fresh-green color, and the cool-spicy of the mint will work with the fat. Smoky and pungent bacon flavor, even, can be done well with ice cream, so long as something really sweet goes with it, like caramel!

Understanding and having fun with the balances between the five flavors of salty, bitter, sweet, sour, and savory is at the core of cooking. Try this ice cream, and then get out there and try a bunch more. Once you've purchased your own ice cream machine, you've really no excuses to be timid anymore. Be bold and have fun!

White Chocolate Cardamom Ice Cream
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1 heaping Tbsp + 1 tsp ground Cardamom 
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 c (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c coconut milk powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c (4 oz) white chocolate callets (the good stuff, not chips!)
Pop the can of cream in the fridge. Add the salt, cardamom, and the coconut milk to a saucepot and bring to a boil. It's important that you whisk only a little of the coconut milk in at a time to ensure the cardamom doesn't clump up. Once it's brought to a boil, turn it off, cover it, and let it set for at least 10 minutes. 

Whisk together the coconut milk and granulated sugar, ensuring there are no lumps, and then whip in the eggs, one at a time, until it's quite smooth and light-colored. It'll be a little thicker than you think it should be, but trust me on this. Besides, it'll be a great arm workout! 

Protip: You might be whisking wrong. The motion should be with your bicep and shoulder, not your wrist. Your wrist is made up of lots of tendons with little muscle, so keep your wrist straight as a board and use that beautiful muscle in your upper arm and upper body to whip that stuff into shape!

When your coconut milk has steeped and your egg yolk mixture is quite light and smooth, splash in some of your warm milk into the yolks, just to warm it and slacken it. Whisk until fully incorporated, and then add a little more of the milk, no more than a half a cup. Whisk it all together until absolutely mixed, and then scrape everything back into the saucepot. Bring it back up to heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, or until 180 degrees F. 

In the pitcher of a blender, add your cold coconut cream and white chocolate. Pour your hot custard mix over all of that, scraping all the goodies from the bottom, and then letting that sit for 2 minutes before blending. Start on low and then gradually get up to high. You'll want it to be 100% smooth. Give it a taste and decide if you want more cardamom or more salt. Remember, cold affects salt to make it seem like there's less, and white chocolate is super sweet! Strain this custard into a tall pitcher and surround it with ice water to cool. Cold custard will whip up much more nicely in your ice cream machine!

Process this ice cream mix in an ice cream machine accordance to your manufacturer instructions. This machine is the one I use and it's fantastic! It's cheap, it's easy to clean, and has a large capacity. It's pretty perfect for the experiments I do at home, and if you're a home cook then I suggest this very much. If you're a chef and in a commercial kitchen, this machine is the one I recommend the most. Yeah, I know, it's stupid expensive. But when you don't have time to chill your mix, this still gets it done with a hot custard or a hot sorbet mix without it turning out gross and grainy. It's oddly easy to clean, as well, and will make ice cream from cold in about 10 minutes, with ice cream from hot in 30. That's pretty amazing.

I hope you've enjoyed this ice cream! It's not vegan, but you can use "JUST Egg" Vegan egg replacer with awesome results if you want it to be vegan. You can also use one half a teaspoon of agar agar per egg yolk, if you have that more readily available. 

Store the ice cream in cartons. You can use tupperware, but it tends to get rather brittle when frozen, so I recommend buying some cardboard containers. I like these little pint containers, and you can write on them with marker to see what you have in there. I advise you to write the date on the bottom of the carton, and to do so before you fill it up. This recipe makes three pints of ice cream. Serve it with toasted pistachios, warm raspberry jam, or chocolate sauce.

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Happy cooking and happy eating!

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