Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spicy Peach Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Sometimes the best place to get ice cream recipes is from other ice cream enthusiasts. This week I made a flavor I found on the Ice Cream Geek's blog.

Spicy Peach Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs ( I used 4 large egg yolks instead)
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup peaches
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
(makes about one quart)
Combine the cream and milk in a pot and bring them to a slight boil over medium heat
As the milk and cream are boiling, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together for two minutes.
Slowly add the cream mixture to the egg mixture a little bit at a time to temper the eggs.
Once you have tempered the eggs, transfer the mixture back to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Set the cream mixture to the side to focus on the peach mixture. According to the Ice Cream Geek, "Peaches are one of those 'problematic' ingredients, because they contain so much water.  Peach chunks are great if you eat the ice cream right out of the machine, but they turn into frozen, teeth-cracking, ice chunks after sitting in the freezer for a while." I learned this the hard way when I made my Strawberries and Cream ice cream. 
The Ice Cream Geek has a good solution to this conundrum, which is to blend the frozen peaches in a blender, adding in the lemon juice and cayenne pepper, as well as some of the cream mixture to make the blending easier. Also add the additional 1/2 cup of sugar. Blend all the ingredients together well, so that it resembles a puree.
I used this 10oz bag of frozen peaches for my peach puree.
Add in the cream mixture, so that the peach and cream mixture become one.
Strain the mixture through a strainer into a clean bowl. The strainer should not catch much, as the mixture should have been well blended and smooth.
Cool the mixture in the refrigerator.
When the mixture is sufficiently chilled, churn the ice cream in your cream churner. Add in the chocolate pieces as the ice cream is churning. The Ice Cream Geek recommends waiting to the very end to add the chocolate pieces, but I added them right away.
Texture: The texture on this was pretty good and better than I was expecting. It was not as creamy as some of my other ice creams, I think because of all the water from the peach, but it wasn't icy either (as can sometimes happen with ice creams that have fruit in them). I think pureeing the peach, as well as the extra egg yolks, helped prevent too many ice crystals from forming.
Flavor: The cayenne pepper packs a big punch. I liked the heat and thought it complimented the chocolate well. My husband, however, was not a fan of the spice.
Overall: I enjoy this ice cream. In addition to the flavor, the ice cream is a pretty, peach color decorated with dots of cocoa nibs.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Shaved Ice Cream

The first time I had shaved ice was on a trip to Taiwan with my husband. We went to a shaved ice store called Mango King, as well as a stall along one of Taiwan's numerous street markets. Every night, Taiwanese streets come alive with vendors selling all sorts of food. This includes snake soup, a Taiwanese delicacy I had the privilege of trying one night. Taiwan's street markets are one of the most interesting and fun things to do in Taiwan. Shaved ice is a popular Taiwanese dessert, easily found at street markets or local stores. Much as it sounds, shaved ice is ice that has been shaved and then placed into a bowl with numerous self-selected toppings, such as condensed milk, jelly and bubbles.

Recently, my husband and I found our first "trendy" shaved ice place in Manhattan. I put "trendy" in quotation marks because while there are shaved ice stores in Flushing or Chinatown, this is the first store that I have seen that has tried to take shaved ice mainstream. Called SNOWDAYS, and located close to the NYU campus, this establishment offers even better shaved ice than the kind we had in Taiwan. It is a thicker, almost creamier texture, which makes sense because according to SNOWDAYS' website they use milk in their shaved ice. At Snow Days, you can try one of their inventions or make your own flavor. My husband and I went the make your own combo route and got the Sweet Milk shaved ice with Condensed Milk and cornflakes as a topping. The cornflakes give the shaved ice some much needed texture and crunch. The combination was delicious. SNOWDAYS' motto is "Make Every Day a Snow Day" and I couldn't agree more. My husband and I will definitely be going back to SNOWDAYS and we'll be bringing friends!
The best part about SNOWDAYS is that they serve their shaved ice cream in these cute little monster cups. Pictured above is Sweet Milk shaved ice cream with Condensed Milk and cornflakes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Wasabi Ice Cream

Last week I made edamame ice cream. This week as a follow-up to that, I decided to make wasabi ice cream. I have only seen wasabi ice cream once before at one of my favorite ice cream shops, Sundaes and Cones. One day while showing my husband's cousin around New York City, we stumbled upon this shop. My husband's cousin was brave enough to order the wasabi ice cream. It was not bad, which has always made me curious about trying to duplicate the results. I did a quick search online, but could not find many recipes for wasabi ice cream. Instead, I turned to a trusted base I usually use when experimenting with new flavors I have never made before.

Wasabi Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons wasabi paste
1 cup sugar
5 eggs yolks
Combine the first three ingredients in a pot and bring them to a slight boil over medium heat.
Cool and allow the wasabi to seep in the milk for two hours.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
Re-heat the cream mixture.
Slowly add the cream mixture a cup at a time to the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk the cream and eggs together, in between transfers.
When you have transferred your last cup of cream into the egg mixture, whisk the two mixtures together for two minutes.
Transfer the mixture back to the pot and cook on medium heat for four minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into a clean bowl. Chill in your refrigerator for a minimum of three hours and up to one day. Churn in your ice cream maker.

Texture: This ice cream needs to churn for a long time (45 minutes - 1 hour) to become solid. I think some corn syrup or cream cheese added to the base would help it to become better stabilized.
Flavor: Wasabi ice cream is an interesting flavor to say the least. It has the hotness of wasabi and the sweetness of the ice cream, two flavors I am not used to experiencing at the same time. It is a light pastel color.
Overall: Wasabi ice cream is an interesting flavor to say the least. I kind of like this ice cream, though I don't know if I could eat it a whole bowl of it. It is best a spoonful at a time. It is also only for the most adventurous of eaters, who already enjoy wasabi. I enjoyed pairing it with some homemade chocolate truffles I recently made. I felt the hot wasabi and the cool chocolate complimented one another nicely. To sum up, if you're looking for a classical dessert or ice cream, this is definitely not it. If you're an adventurous eater, however, this may be your new favorite dessert.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Life Lessons From Ice Cream Making & Running

No matter who you are, the New Year always seems like a good time for some introspection. As part of that introspection, I created a list of my favorite ice creams that I have made over the past two years. As I reflect back on my past two years of ice cream making, which coincides with the two year span in which I was preparing for the New York City marathon (my first marathon), I am struck by not just my favorite ice creams, but the number of life lessons I have learned from ice cream making and running.

Persistence is Key
When I first started making ice cream, I was not very good at it. The first few flavors I made were not the way I envisioned they would be at all and the ice cream did not hold together very well. I was ready to give up, but I kept at it and eventually ended up making ice cream that I was proud of.

Similarly, when I first started getting into running, a 10K seemed like a long distance to me. I distinctly remember training for the Scotland 10K (my first 10K) and wondering if I would ever be able to do it. I had to train for a long time, just to make it around Central Park once. Now a 10K is nothing for me. In fact, I can run 10 miles with ease. I say this not to brag, but to point out how perspective and persistence is everything. I am sure there are people out there who find a marathon easy, while I am struggling with my three laps around Central Park. However, these days as I am approaching that third lap in Central Park, I can't help my be amazed with how far I have come in such a short time. Two years ago, I would have stopped after 1 lap, now I can keep going. Point is that the more you practice, the easier things become. Don't get discouraged so easily!

Life's About the Journey, Not the Destination
It can be awkward to step outside your comfort zone and failure often hurts. The more I have experimented with ice cream, however, the more I have come to love the ice cream making process (cheesy, I know). Sometimes it really is about the journey and not the destination. Not all my ice cream flavors came out well, but along the way I have learned a lot. I have learned what works and doesn't work when it comes to making ice cream. I have learned which steps I can skip and which steps are necessary to take. I have also learned a lot about the different components of ice cream and how chemicals interact in ice cream. I have learned that before you freeze ice cream, you need to cook it first (not something I ever would have guessed). I have learned about things like food stabilizers, something I had never previously heard of. None of this is life changing information, but it is interesting and it keeps my mind engaged.

In life, it is important to not just keep your mind engaged, but also your body. Marathon training was challenging to say the least. It was taxing on both my mind and my body. However, I learned how to push myself both mentally and physically and to not give up on a goal. Trust me, there were plenty of times along the way that I thought that a marathon was beyond my physical limitations and I contemplated quitting. I didn't quit though. That may seem like such a simple and obvious statement, but not quitting on a goal is half the battle. Long story short, expand your horizons and try something new, you never know what you might learn along the way. Even if you learn nothing, you'll at least be impressed by the progress you've made and how far you have come. I told myself during training that I would never run another marathon. It was too painful and too time consuming. Less than two months later, I'm contemplating training for the Philadelphia Marathon in November.

It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right
I never would have gotten through marathon training without my husband. He was with my through every step of my training, whether that was verbally encouraging me as I ran or simply motivating me to get my lazy butt out of the house when I saw him going for a run. When it comes to running, especially long distance running, having a partner to help motivate you is huge. Your partner does not have to be a romantic interest. I had plenty of friends who came out the day of the marathon to cheer me on. The energy of the crowd definitely fueled my run. It's hard to do things all by yourself, but with the support of others you can make things go out of sight.

Patience Truly is a Virtue
Good ice cream is not something that can be made quickly. It takes many steps and often a couple days. The ice cream has to be made (usually in many different bowls); it has to cook; it has to chill (usually overnight), it has to be churned (usually for 45 minutes). If you rush in making ice cream or try to skip the wrong step, the ice cream will not come out well. Like so much else in life, if you're going to make good ice cream, you need to take the time to do it right. On the other hand, what's the point of doing something, if you're not going to do it right? So set aside the time you need to get the results you desire. It took me two years to train for the marathon, but eventually I got there! Be patient with yourself, especially when you're learning something new.

Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation
When training for a marathon, it's easy to become caught up in extremes. A Marathon after all is an extreme distance to run, though not as extreme as some runs today (such as ultra marathons). When running that far, it is easy to become caught up in being healthy. Being healthy is of course a good thing. I don't want to discourage anyone from being healthy. However, it is also possible to take health consciousness too far. For example, when I was running my first health marathon, I became so health conscious that I almost found myself becoming paralyzed when it came time to decide what to eat. I didn't want to eat meat because too much meat leads to cholesterol; I didn't want to eat too much carbs because carbs lead to sluggishness. The list could go on. Obviously, however, fueling a marathon run with just fruits and veggies is not a way to be successful. Luckily for me, I broke out of this phase fairly quickly. Eat healthy, but don't obsess over it. Enjoy your meals. If your meals include ice cream from time to time, well then so be it. You'll probably burn those calories off in your next training run.

My advice for the upcoming year, push yourself to explore new horizons, but while you're pushing the boundaries, be kind to yourself and have patience with yourself when you make mistakes. Making mistakes is an inevitable part of learning something new, so have faith that you can master new challenges and settle in to enjoy the journey. Along the way, don't be shy about enjoying that bowl of ice cream, if you need one.

Until next time, keep calm and get your ice cream eating (and running) on.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lean, Green, Edamame Machine

I am a big fan of sushi. Often when I go out to a Japanese restaurant, I will order edamame as an appetizer. Recently, I purchased a bag of frozen edamame at the supermarket. I planned on using the edamame one night as an appetizer at home, but as so often happens, laziness set in and I never got around to using the edamame. As most of you by now know, I am also a big fan of experimenting with unusual and unique ice cream flavors. When I ran across a recipe for edamame ice cream in Bon Appetit Magazine, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use up the bag of edamame I had sitting in my freezer.

Edamame Ice Cream
8 oz of frozen shelled edamame
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup dry milk powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup (I only had dark corn syrup, so I substituted that instead. It came out just as well in my opinion).
Cook edamame in boiling salted water until tender. (The back of the package will tell you how long to cook the edamame for, but mine took about 5 minutes.) Drain, cool.
Whisk eggs and cream in a bowl.
Mix milk, milk powder, sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture simmers.
Gradually whisk milk mixture into egg mixture.
Return custard to same pan. Stir over medium heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour into bowl; cool. (I placed my custard in the refrigerator for a few hours).
Puree custard with edamame (remember to shell the edamame prior to putting it in the blender) in blender until smooth (this takes a few minutes); chill until cold. (I skipped the second chilling process, as my custard was already chilled from being in the refrigerator for a few hours).
Churn in ice cream maker.

Flavor: The ice cream definitely tastes like edamame. I was not a huge fan of it, but my husband enjoyed it. I guess it just comes down to individual preference.

Texture: This is the most pleased I've been with an ice cream's texture in a long time. I was a little bit nervous when I was pouring the custard into the ice cream churner, as it looked a little watery. However, I left the mixture to churn for almost an hour and it came out solid. I think part of the reason that this ice cream's texture might have come out so well is that it uses both eggs and corn syrup, both of which act as stabilizers. This is the first ice cream recipe I've used that combine both eggs and corn syrup in the same recipe.

Also, something that really pleased me about the edamame ice cream was that it was naturally green! Usually when I make ice creams at home, they come out white, which just goes to show you how much artificial dye and other chemicals is in store bought ice cream. This is one of the few homemade flavors I have made that is naturally colorful. It's a little hard to tell, but you can kind of catch a little bit of the light green color in the photo below.

Yes, that is my dog trying to eat the edamame ice cream. We snatched it away from her just in time.

Overall: If you like edamame, give this ice cream a shot. If nothing else, you'll have fun with the color.

Until next time, keep calm and get your ice cream eating on!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2 Years In Review: The Best Homemade Ice Creams of 2014 & 2015!

In honor of the New Year, I have decided to create a list of the best ice creams I have made since I got my very first ice cream maker two years ago. I tried to limit the list to just five ice creams, but couldn't help myself and added a sixth. If anybody is interested in trying these flavors for themselves, just click on the link and it will take you to the recipe page.
This flavor is unlike any other flavor I have ever had. Do not be intimidated by it's unusualness, however. Anytime I have served it to people, they have always asked for seconds. It's sure to impress even the pickiest of guests.
This flavor is rich and chocaltey. I do not usually like chocolate ice cream, as I usually find it weak and watery. This recipe hits the mark, however. It is only for the most hard core of chocolate lovers and sure to cure any chocolate craving.
Not the most creative of flavors, for sure, but definitely a classic. My husband would never forgive me if I left Sweet Cream off the list, as it is his favorite flavor.
If I could eat this ice cream everyday for breakfast, I would. If you love Thai/Vietnamese Iced Coffee, then you will love this ice cream. It's the perfect way to jump start your morning.
A perfect ice cream for the spring. It's floral and sweet and reminds you that summer is just around the corner.
If Lavender Ice Cream is the perfect spring flavor, Cinnamon Ice Cream is the perfect winter flavor. It tastes of Christmas, cinnamon buns and eggnog. So get in the holiday spirit and make some today!
Leave a comment in the comment section and let me know what your favorite ice cream flavor is.
Until next time, keep calm and get your ice cream eating on!

Ice Cream Sandwiches at Schmackary's

The other weekend, my husband I went to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love seeing the angels at Rockefeller Center; the shop windows along 5th Avenue; baking cookies, drinking hot chocolate, stringing up Christmas lights and the overall general good mood that everybody seems to exude in December. After going to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree, my husband and I walked over to the West Side where we enjoyed dinner at an Ethiopian Restaurant called Queen of Sheba. After dinner, we strolled along the streets on the way to the subway and passed by a cookie place called Schmackary's that we decided to pop into.

One of my favorite parts about living in a city is that you can wander along the city streets and almost always find a new place that you haven't tried before. I have found some of my favorite places using this method. Unfortunately, this time around this method failed me. Despite having excellent reviews on yelp, I found Schmackary's disappointing. I ordered a Chocolate Chip cookie, the Schmakerdoodle cookie (sugar, cinnamon and vanilla) and The Red Velvet cookie. The Red Velvet cookie was the only one I didn't throw away and even that was only so-so. My husband ordered an ice cream sandwich with the Chocolate Chip cookie and the Schmakerdoodle cookie serving as the "sandwich pieces." Overall, the ice cream sandwich was the best thing we ordered. Nonetheless, it was still disappointing, especially given that none of the individual components of the ice cream sandwich, the ice cream or the cookies, was really that exceptional. Skip the long lines and high prices at Schmakerdoodle's and find another place to go to satiate your sweet tooth.

Take a hint from the box, don't say we didn't warn you, I would only give Schmakerdoodle's one scoop.

Until next time, keep calm and get your ice cream eating on.