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The Journal Gazette

  • Roasted Carrot Ice Cream With Hazelnut Sesame-Seed Crumble

  • Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post Fresh Cheese Ice Cream With Blackberries is both tangy and tart, a perfect combination for the hot summer months.    

  • Photos by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post Rhubarb-Elderflower Sorbet may seem odd, but can be a tasty treat. 

  • Tres Leches Ice Cream takes a cue from the classic desert by using cake as a base.  

  • Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post Rocky Road Nice Cream is a classic flavor with a twist.

  • No-Churn Peanut Butter Curry Ice Cream

Wednesday, August 02, 2017 1:00 am

Ice cream adventures

Skip the vanilla for something that has more bold flavor

Bonnie S. Benwick | Washington Post

Can a big number of tweets really tell us which ice cream flavors 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 flavor.


But wait. There's a reason vanilla always ranks so high year after year, and it's not because we are nation of bland taste buds. 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 flavors 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 flavors 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 savory 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

Roasted carrots lend their sweetness and a lovely color 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.

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.

For the ice cream:

12 medium carrots (about 1 pound), scrubbed well

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup honey

4 large egg yolks

4 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved

Peruvian pink salt, for garnish (optional)

For the crumble:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup water

1/2 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. Let cool, then transfer to a food processor and puree 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 puree 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 cream-carrot 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 on the 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.

Makes 12 servings (11/2 quarts)

– Adapted from “Simple Fare: Spring and Summer,” by Karen Mordechai (Harry N. Abrams, 2017)

Rhubarb-Elderfower Sorbet

This nondairy frozen dessert is beautiful, bright-tasting and subtly floral.

You'll need an ice cream maker.

2 cups chopped rhubarb (from about 6 medium stalks)

1/4 cup sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon elderflower liqueur

3/4 cup simple syrup (see note)

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until tender and soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Stir in the liqueur and simple syrup, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup. Discard the solids. Pour the strained mixture into an ice cream maker container and churn for about 50 minutes, until visibly thicker and smooth.

Transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for at least 4 hours, or until firm.

Note: To make the simple syrup, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the mixture to boil just long enough for the sugar to dissolve, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Pour into a jar with a lid and refrigerate for up to a week.

Makes 4 servings (1 pint).

– Adapted from “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine,” by Erin French (Clarkson Potter, 2017)

Fresh Cheese Ice Cream With Blackberries

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

You can use requeson or queso fresco, but the latter will yield a slightly saltier ice cream. Requeson is a fresh, ricotta-style Mexican cheese, available in Latin markets. You'll need an ice cream maker.

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

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 (may substitute part-skim ricotta)

11/2 cups half-and-half

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 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. Puree 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 freezer-safe 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.

Makes 16 servings (about 11/4 quarts).

– Adapted from “Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories,” by Fany Gerson (Ten Speed Press, 2017)

Tres Leches Ice Cream

We found the cake and base flavors 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.

For the cake:

1/2 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch kosher salt

3 large eggs, separated in whites and yolks, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons whole milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the ice cream:

One 12-ounce can evaporated milk

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

11/2 cups half-and-half

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the cake: Position a rack in the center 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 1/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld 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 1/4 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 center 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.

Makes 8 servings (makes 1 quart).

– Adapted from “Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories”

No-Churn Peanut Butter Curry Ice Cream

This unexpected, sweet-with-heat combination of flavors is one of the richest-tasting no-churn ice creams we've tried.

If you can't find peanut powder/peanut butter powder, simply grind roasted, unsalted peanuts to a fine powder in the food processor.

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup powdered peanut butter

1/4 cup dehydrated milk/powdered milk

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream, well chilled

Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl. Stir in the powdered peanut butter, milk powder, curry powder (to taste; see headnote) and vanilla extract until well incorporated.

Beat the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment or use a handheld mixer. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 to 7 minutes, to form stiff peaks.

Mix a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully incorporated. Do not over-mix.

Spoon the mixture into a container and freeze for at least 5 hours before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings (11/2 quarts).

– Adapted from “Food52 Ice Cream and Friends: 60 Recipes and Riffs for Sorbets, Sandwiches, No-Churn Ice Creams, and More,” by the editors of Food52 (Ten Speed Press, 2017)