Monday, August 23, 2010

Maple Syrup Ice Cream With Candied Walnuts

I'm a nut for nuts. I'm so happy I'm not allergic to nuts. I think Mr.Peanut is hilarious, I can eat peanut butter with a spoon. And walnuts are the healthy brainfood nut. I also love maple syrup. I've always loved maple flavoured things. Pour it into the little squares of a crisp homemade waffle that's covered in summer berries and plain Greek yogurt and I'm the happiest person on planet Earth.

Back to ice cream: I've decided to start a new project: Ice Cream Love. Makin' my favourite peoples' favourite ice cream flavours! I decided to start with my dear pal Amber, who is nuts for maple walnut ice cream. Whenever I meet someone I like, I can't help but ask them what their favourite food is. I feel like it can help define my relationship to that person, or how well I know them. For instance, I know my husband's favourite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, and he likes anything chocolate hazelnut, and he dislikes very much mushrooms, tomatoes and mustard (three things I love!). Amber's favourite ice cream is maple walnut. My friend Toni loves the combination of chocolate orange just as much as my friend Heather despises it.

Me, I try to like or at least attempt to like all flavours, or, rather, understand why other people like them. I like most things actually. One flavour I think that is super grody to the max though is black licorice. Even so, I will still occasionally try it (the allure of the shiny black salted licorice studded with tiny candies) to make sure I still don't like it. Who knows? Maybe my palette suddenly has changed and I've become a black licorice maniac!

My favourite flavours actually shift fairly often. I love lemon and citrus flavoured things, but I also love a beautiful piece of chocolate. I've always loved caramel in any way shape or form -- poured as a thick sweet syrup on top of ice cream, or eaten in individually wrapped squares in between bites of a granny smith apple. Maple syrup of course, and green tea flavour too, both thumbs up in my book. All these flavours are pretty varying and no rhyme or reason! Such is the strangeness of humanity!

Okay. So onto the recipe. I figured those walnuts had to have something goin' on besides just being thrown in all plainsies style. Pralined? Candied? Sugared? I flipped through The Perfect Scoop and saw a recipe for "Crouquant." Essentially, nut brittle. So I decided to make that! (Only after I made the croquant did I look at a few recipes for maple walnut ice cream and it called for walnuts that had been bathed, per se, in maple syrup at a high temperature, which I will try next time.)

{Maple Syrup Ice Cream With Candied Walnuts}

You will need:

1 1/2 cups walnuts
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (10% milk fat)

3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspooon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On baking sheet, lay a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle walnuts evenly. Toast walnuts in oven, 6-8 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn.
2. Remove walnuts, let cool.
3. Place 1 cup of sugar in a heavy bottomed pan. Heat on medium high until golden, beginning to bubble and liquefying. Stir gently to ensure all sugar melts and liquifies!
5. Once liquified, add in toasted walnuts into melted sugar and coat walnuts completely. Mix 'er up. Pour mixture back onto same piece of parchment paper, spread out with spatula and let cool.
6. Once cool, place in food processor and pulse until pieces become smaller, or you can place brittle in a ziploc bag and beat it with a rolling pin...
7. In medium sized pot, heat 1 cup of heavy cream and maple syrup on low until combined. Add the rest of the heavy cream, milk, vanilla and salt and mix until combined.
8. Cover and chill mixture, 1 hour in freezer or 3-4 hours in fridge.
9. Pour into ice cream maker and churn it up according to ice cream maker's instructions. I churned it for 25 minutes. At the last minute, pour in candied walnut pieces and churn for 30 seconds or so until combined.
10. Scoop out and enjoy!

PS-- there are no eggs in this recipe -- but the sugar content from the maple syrup ensures a creamy dreamy delight! No jacket required! (er, no eggs required)...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream


I am a coffee ice cream maniac. I think it all started with my mom's famous ice cream mud pie. My mom has made this since we were kids, and it's the one dessert all of my cousins and my sisters clamour for at Christmastime - even when there's a buffet of rich cakes and pastries and candies - it's the mud pie that gets the attention, our forks and spoons ready to tuck into the dark chocolate crust, creamy coffee ice cream middle and chocolate fudge topping.

Our family is also a mega huge fan of the Cambodian/Vietnamese restaurant here in Vancouver called Phomn Penh, or PP as we call it (if you're not from Vancouver and happen to be visiting, it is an essential food stop!). We've been going there for well over 20-odd years (probably more) and it is here where I got my first initial taste of Vietnamese iced coffee.

A little silver thingie went on top of a glass cup with some sweet creamy stuff on the bottom. Dark brown hot stuff drip-drip-dripped out the bottom, splashing onto the creamy stuff. Once it finished dripping, everything got all mixed together with ice and it was like a liquid power dessert that zinged like a coffee rocket through your veins upon first sip.

On a recent trip to T&T Supermarket with my dad, I finally bought my own "silver thingie" -- in fact, a Vietnamese coffee press. Slowly over a crazy busy week I procured all of my ingredients to make the iced coffee: sweetened condensed milk, and today French dark roast medium-coarse ground coffee! (I bought the beans at a local coffee shop and had them ground). And now... I am so buzzed on this strong coffee. Here is a great tutorial on how to make it. After I made a glass of iced coffee for myself, it was time to move on to the main project: Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream.

This is the easiest ice cream ever and it tastes crazy-delicious creamy. It maintains an excellent texture straight out of the freezer, no setting out at room temp to warm up a bit! Next time I am going to try playing around with the amount of sweetened condensed milk as I like my ice creams not-too-sweet, but I wonder if it would mess with the perfect consistency, as there are no eggs in this recipe, thus the condensed milk gives it its thick creaminess...

{Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream}

adapted from David Leibovitz's recipe in the very excellent ice cream book
"The Perfect Scoop".

You will need:

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of French dark roast coffee, brewed strong!

1/2 cup heavy cream
a pinch of the dark roast coffee

1. Brew a very strong batch of espresso using French dark roast coffee.
2. Place sweetened condensed milk in medium bowl.
3. Whisk brewed coffee, heavy cream, pinch of dark roast coffee and sweetened condensed milk all together until combined.
4. Cover and set in refrigerator until well chilled, 3-4 hours. Or try power-chilling it in the freezer but watch carefully!
5. Pour into ice cream maker and churn it up according to maker's instructions. I churned it up for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy this simple and delicious recipe! And maybe use the buzz you get from it to power-clean your house or write a novel!

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