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Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, Redux

2 Nov

“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.” 
~ Yogi Berra

Limes - they "key" ingredient (I'm so funny!)

Yogi Berra had a plethora of wise and witty comments to share with the world. This one happens to be right up my alley. On the rare occasion that The Husband and I go to dinner, I always push for dessert. Being that The Husband doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth (I know, I know, I am working on it…) he always defers to me. “You pick” he says, “and I’ll have one bite. You have to promise to eat the rest.” I respond by saying that I can’t eat the whole thing, it’s too big and too much. But, when the dessert arrives, I cut it in half, and lo and behold, manage to eat both halves! Yogi Berra taught me well. It’s really just mind over matter!

You may all remember that I made Key Lime Pie ice cream a few months ago. It was good, people seemed to enjoy it. But this recipe, oh this recipe, it’s in a whole different ballpark. In fact, I just went out for ice cream the other night (well, make that out for 2 ice creams, at two separate places, in one night, but who’s counting?) and so badly wanted to enjoy a refreshing fruit ice cream, so I mustered up enough courage to try the pomegranate.  And then I saw chocolate. And then I saw red velvet. And then I saw coffee oreo. And then it was all over. I suppose that just proves my point: fruit is not a dessert in my book.

This flavor, however, is an exception. If I had seen this Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, I can assure you that I would have ordered it. It’s just that good.

Ok enough ranting.

Here’s how this ice cream redux came to be: The Husband and I went to Chicago a few weeks ago to spend time with The Sugar Family. It just so happened that everyone wanted to try 365scoops, so like any committed ice cream blogger, I went out and bought another ice cream maker and started taking orders. The first on the list was Key Lime Pie. I liked the flavor I made last time but wanted to try making a custard (with eggs) and thought that caramelized graham crackers would make a great addition. Graham cracker crust seemed essential for the ice cream, but I was afraid that plain graham crackers would get soggy. By caramelizing the graham crackers, the sugar essentially formed a shell to protect the graham cracker – and as a result it stayed crunchy and delicious. See Sugar solves every problem. You’ll thank me later for that pearl of wisdom.

The lime juice and zest are added to the milk base

As I was making the custard base, I noticed that it started curdling. I flipped out, and was half way to the sink to throw out the mixture when The Mother-In-Law yelped. Noooooo is all I heard her say. It was in slow motion, straight out of the movies. I’ll cut to the chase here and say that saving that mixture was the best thing I ever did. The curdling was only temporary (a result of adding lime juice – aka acid- to a milk base, totally harmless) and led to the creation of this masterpiece flavor. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, Redux

Created by 365scoops

Ingredients

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup whole milk

3 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

juice from approximately 4 limes (to taste)

zest from approximately 2 limes (to taste)

Caramelized Graham Crackers

Tempering the eggs - adding the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk and sugar concoction

Method

Make the caramelized graham crackers and set aside.

Pour the half-and-half and milk into a pot on the stove and heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Meanwhile, using a hand-mixer or whisk, mix together the egg yolks, slowly adding in the sugar until the mixture gets very thick and pale yellow. At this point, remove the milk mixture from the heat and slowly add it into the egg yolk mixture (see photo above), mixing in between milk additions until thoroughly combined.

Adding lime zest into the mixture

Now you’re going to add the lime juice and zest. Full disclosure: as much as I want to give a very detailed recipe, it’s hard to do because depending on the size of the lime, you’ll need either 4-6 to get sufficient juice. Start out by squeezing one lime at a time (into a separate bowl so you can fish out the seeds) and add to the mixture. Stir thoroughly. It will curdle, don’t be alarmed. Repeat this process until you’ve added the juice from 4 limes and then you’ll continue adding lime juice to taste. Next, zest 2 limes into a bowl and add in the zest, tablespoon by tablespoon. Again, you want this mixture to be tart and zesty, but not so puckeringly (is that a word, don’t think so) tart that you make an ugly, scrunched up face in response.

Mixture for caramelized graham crackers

Once you’ve reached your desired tartness, pour the mixture back into the pot and put it on the stove top until it thickens and reaches 185 degrees (or coats the back of a spatula). Remove from heat, let cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight. The colder the mixture the better!

Remove from the refrigerator, taste the mixture. If you think it needs a bit more “oomph” add in a little more fresh lime zest. Then, pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 5 minutes before it’s done, add in the caramelized graham cracker chunks. Reserve 1/3 of them for garnish when you serve the ice cream. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 hours before enjoying. To enjoy, serve two heaping scoops of ice cream, sprinkle with caramelized graham crackers and enjoy!

Caramelized graham crackers. Amazing.

The Verdict: Sheer pleasure. This was out-stand-ing. Definitely one of the top 5 flavors created by 365scoops. I apologize profusely for not having a photo of the final product – just imagine how good, refreshing and creamy it was!

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Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

30 Oct

Fall is here

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” ~ Jim Davis

Jim Davis, I don’t know who you are but I like you already.

Yesterday was National Pumpkin Day and in honor of this historical moment, I made Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. (Full disclosure: I had no idea it was actually National Pumpkin Day until someone told me. I had already planned to make this flavor when, boom, my coworker told be about the special day. I wish I were really that on top of things!)

Tomorrow also happens to be Halloween so this recipe seemed rather obvious. In honor of our main ingredient, the pumpkin, I thought I’d share a few fun facts:

Pumpkins are the harbinger of the harvest season, appearing every year as the first sign of autumn. Did you know that the word “pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon,” meaning “large melon”?

Pumpkins can be grown on every continent except Antarctica, and the United States produces about 1.5 billion pounds of them each year. A Wisconsin farmer grew the largest pumpkin ever recorded. He used seaweed, cow manure, and fish emulsion to grow his pumpkin, which weighed a total of 1,810 pounds and was the size of a dumpster!

Pumpkin Spice

Let me be clear about one thing: please don’t use cow manure and fish emulsion in my pumpkin thankyouverymuch.

In case you’re worried, I used organic pumpkin puree. I had a brief, fleeting thought about making my own pumpkin puree. Then I pictured myself standing in the kitchen for hours, laboring over cutting, roasting, and seasoning the pumpkin and I thought better of it. Good thing because Whole Foods  had a sale on their organic pumpkin puree, which worked just swimmingly for this recipe.

As part of my ongoing mission to taste other ice creams for “research” I made it a point to sample Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream . Everyone has been raving about it, and I needed to stand face to face with my competition. It was, simply put, outrageously delicious. As I was savoring each bite, I noticed that a woman next to me was also enjoying the ice cream. I don’t know what came over me, but I had to take advantage of the opportunity to promote 365scoops so you know what I did? I handed her a business card and told her that I make artesanal, home-made ice cream. She looked at me like I was joking. I wasn’t. And then, the best part happened. One of the Trader Joe’s employees looked her in the eyes and said, “No, seriously, that’s Mrs. Sugar, she really does have an ice cream business!”

Ladies and gentlemen, if that’s not an endorsement I don’t know what is. I’ve made it big!

Happy Fall!  Enjoy!

A dollop of pumpkin puree before it's stirred into the milk mixture

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Created by 365scoops

Ingredients for Ice Cream

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup whole milk

3 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp tea masala (combination of ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg) a spice mixture from Kenya

4 whole cloves

Adding in the pumpkin spices

Ingredients for Caramelized Graham Crackers

8 graham crackers

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup corn syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla

Method

First make the ice cream base. Pour two cups half-and-half and one cup whole milk into a large pot. While that is heating, begin tempering the eggs. To do this whisk the yolks first, and slowly add in the 3/4 cups of sugar until the yolks get very thick and pale yellow. At this point, small bubbles should be forming around the edges of the milk mixture. Pour in the can of pumpkin and stir thoroughly. Remove from heat.

The ice cream mixture resting in an ice bath to expedite the cooling process

Slowly pour the pumpkin/milk mixture into the egg yolks. Stir thoroughly until well incorporated. Add in the cinnamon, cloves, ginger powder and tea masala. (Personally, I didn’t think that my ice cream was spiced enough, so at this point I should have at least doubled the proportions of seasonings, and then adjusted according to taste – oh well, next time).

Pour this mixture back into the pot and slowly heat until the mixture reaches 185 degrees F, or when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spatula. At this point the eggs are cooked. Remove from heat and let cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours. To speed up the cooling process (which I did), you can fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, and rest the ice cream mixture bowl in that bowl (otherwise known as an ice bath). You’ll still need to transfer to the refrigerator, but it definitely shaves time off the cooling process.

Graham crackers, before caramelization

While cooling, make the caramelized graham crackers. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (an absolute must, or your graham crackers will stick!). Break the eight graham crackers in half, or in small pieces, whatever you prefer (pieces need to be event) and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 25o degrees. Mix butter, brown sugar and corn syrup on the stove top and heat until bubbly. Stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn. Once bubbly, remove from heat and pour in the vanilla extract. Pour this caramel mixture onto the graham crackers, mix a bit so the pieces are well covered, and cook at 25o degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven after 30 minutes and immediately take the pieces off the baking sheet (careful the caramel is VERY hot). Set the pieces aside.

Graham crackers, post caramelization

Once the ice cream mixture is chilled, pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 5 minutes before the mixture is done churning, slowly mix in the caramelized graham crackers. Remove from the ice cream maker, place in a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 hours before enjoying.

The Verdict:  Well, it was eh. I really hate saying that, but it’s true. I’ve mentioned before that I really love ice creams that pack a punch – and really exude flavor. This one just didn’t. I am not sure whether more cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger would have added to the flavor, or whether the pumpkin to milk ratio was slightly off, but either way, I’m going to try making it again with some slight modifications. Of course I’ll post those for your reading pleasure.

Pumpkin pie ice cream, up close and personal

But, on a positive note, the caramelized graham crackers were so delicious, and whenever I got a bite of ice cream with one of those gems, it was heavenly. The caramelized graham crackers were a perfect addition to the ice cream, and provided a deliciously sweet crunch. All in, I’d give this a 6 out of 10. Hopefully next time we’ll get a 9 or 10. Either way, it’s still a great ice cream for fall.


Mocha Choca Latta Gelato

19 Oct

“Mocha Choca latta ya ya (oh oh oohoh ) 
Creole Lady Marmalade”  ~ Lady Marmalade

Mocha Choca Latta

Top of the morning to ya.

As of late, that’s become my favorite greeting. It’s weird, it’s retro, it’s fun.

Last night was a big day for 365scoops – we debuted our flavors at the Real Bloggers of NYC. Not to toot my own horn (wow, another awkward expression) but it seemed that the ice cream went over swimmingly! We served over 100 cups of ice cream from 15 pints of freshly churned flavors including Tiramisu, Charleston Chew, Key Lime Pie, Peach Sorbetto, and Vanilla Bean.

This morning, however, I was zonked. So zonked, that I needed a cup of caffeine – stat. For those of you who know me, I cannot drink caffeine. I become crazy, nutty, loopy and shaky (not so different from the present, non-caffeinated me). Not good things when I’m trying to work at my day job. But, alas, I had to succumb to my urges and drink coffee. In so doing, I realized that caffeinated ice was in order. After work, I marched myself home to create this very flavor.

Fun fact:

Adding the coffee to the milk and cocoa mixture

Shakers banned the consumption of coffee because they felt it was a luxury, but shortly thereafter the older members of congregations complained, so the elderly were allowed to drink coffee in the morning.  Upon hearing this, the women in the community became very angry with the unfairness of the rule, so they lobbied and received the right to drink coffee the mornings of communal clothes-washing as well.  SO despite their reputations of being stringent and unyielding, Shakers did sometimes show some flexibility!

Mocha Choca Latta Gelato

Inspired by Ben and Jerry’s 

Whisking the eggs and sugar

Ice Cream Ingredients

2 1/4 cups half-and-half

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

3 tbs good quality instant coffee

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Mocha Sauce 

Adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe here

Method

This happens to be a very simple (and wildly delicious recipe). I made the ice cream with caffeinated coffee (duh) but have also made versions with decaf and it tastes exactly the same and still delicious.

The mocha sauce comes to life

Make the mocha sauce here and set aside.

Warm the milk and half-and-half in a large pot until small bubbles form around the edges. Whisk in the cocoa and instant coffee and stir vigorously so that it dissolves. Set aside.

Whisk together (I used my new fun blue whisk!) the three egg yolks. Slowly add in the sugar until it is dissolved and the yolks are pale yellow.

Pour the hot coffee/chocolate mixture into the egg mixture (slowly so they don’t scramble!) and stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture back into the large pot and heat until the mixture either coats the back of a spoon, or it reaches 185 degrees.

And it reaches 185 degrees. Eggs are cooked, phew!

Let the mixture cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once the mixture is cooled, pour into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes).

Scoop into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. Drizzle with the mocha sauce and enjoy!

The Verdict:  Hit the spot. I’m sick and tired of saying “yummy” so this time I’ll say, delectable! Really, this is good stuff. I even put a scoop of it in my coffee this morning, and let me tell you, I do not regret it. A perfect, creamy addition. Enjoy!

Apple Crumble Ice Cream

9 Oct

“I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert.”  ~Jason Love

Jason Love, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Apple Crumble Ice Cream

This seems to be my life struggle. On one hand I am committed to health and wellness (this blog did come about after graduating from my Master’s in Public Health), yet on the other hand I have a constant need to ingest sweets. All things sweet. Yes, I tend to lean towards cake and ice cream but let’s be honest: I cannot recall a time in my life when I ever refused a cookie or brownie.

This time of year, with the leaves falling, and the weather cooling down, I tend to gravitate towards apple pie. Be warned: I have very discriminating taste. If you try and serve me apple pie with cheap crust and canned apples I will throw it in your face. I mean that seriously. But, any pie with fresh apples (preferably macintosh) a buttery, flaky crust (perfect amount of cinnamon), and a slightly crunchy crumble on top, sign me up!

So, I set out to create my own version of apple pie ice cream. I read tons and tons of recipes, and couldn’t find one that I liked. Being that I’m finally starting to get the hang of this ice cream thing, I decided to create my own recipe. When I asked The Husband to taste the batter he exclaimed, “wow, that takes just like apple pie.” Success.

The beautiful Macintosh apple

It just so happens that I made this recipe right before learning of Steve Job’s passing. Being that this is apple pie ice cream (made with Macintosh apples, no less) it’s apropos to dedicate this recipe to him. Here’s a man who has innovated beyond our wildest imaginations, and who has single handedly changed the way we communicate with one another. Steve taught us to love what we do, and his words resonate deeply with me. At the Stanford graduation in 2005 Steve said,  “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

My hope for all of you is that as we enter the Jewish new year, we all find something that we love, and pursue it.

There's nothing bad about apples and cinnamon!

Apple Crumble Ice Cream

Created by 365scoops

Ice Cream Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs apples (approximately 4 Macintosh)

3 tbs water

1/2 – 3/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups half-and-half

3 egg yolks

splash of vanilla extract

Crumble Ingredients

From Emeril Lagasse

1 cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

6 tbs flour

8 tbs (1 stick) butter

The crumble ingredients

Method

This recipe requires a number of pots and pans, and the ability to multitask. Essentially you’re going to be making three components of the recipe at once.

First, slice the apples into small chunks (do not peel) and put into a medium pot. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and water. Cover and heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that the apples do not burn. After 15 minutes remove from the heat and set aside.

In the meantime, whisk together the three egg yolks, and slowly add in the sugar. You’ll notice that as you add more sugar, the yolks become more pale in color and thick in texture.

Third, while all this is happening, put the half-in-half in a large pot and heat. Once small bubbles begin to form around the sides remove from the heat.

Now you’re going to temper the eggs. At this point your apples will be cooked and set aside, and your yolk/sugar mixture will be ready for tempering. Slowly pour the half-and-half into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Repeat until all the half-and-half has been blended with the yolks and sugar.

Add the butter, mix and voila - crumble topping

Pour the tempered eggs and apple mixture into a blend and puree until smooth. Immediately pour this new mixture (which incorporates all the ice cream ingredients) into the medium pot and heat until it reaches 185 degrees. WARNING: If you over cook this by even a second, your mixture will taste rather eggy and it will be ruined. Also, you may notice that once this mixture is heated, it doesn’t smell that good. Don’t worry, let it cool, taste it, and it will be delicious (I’m speaking from first-hand experience here!).

Let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight.

In the meantime, make the crumble topping. Pour the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Stir together. Add in the chunks of butter and mix with your hands until small chunks form. Place these chunks onto a baking sheet (line with either parchment paper or tin foil to avoid a messy clean up) and bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven, flatten out the crumble and bake again for another 2 minutes. Let the crumble cool entirely before freezing.

Look at those crumbles. Yum.

Once the ice cream mixture is cold, pour it back into the blender and puree for 30 seconds so that the mixture is very smooth before churning. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished you’re going to layer the ice cream with crumble and voila, apple crumble ice cream! Pour a few chunks of crumble onto the bottom of a freezer-safe container, scoop ice cream on top, and repeat until you’ve used all the ice cream. Top with crumble and freeze before serving. There will be left over crumble. If you’re feeling particularly sassy, whip up some caramel sauce, and drizzle on top before serving. Enjoy!

Apple Crumble Ice Cream, coming right up!

The Verdict: This flavor was good, not great. I think it had real potential, which is why I’m going to make it again. When I ate it out of the machine as I tend to do, it was delicious. But then when I had a bowl of it, I wasn’t as thrilled with the flavor as I was the day before. Bottom line, this ice cream tasted just like apple pie. So, if you love apple pie, you’ll love this ice cream. Enjoy!

Jasmine Tea Ice Cream

7 Sep

“Oh honey
Picture me upon your knee,
With tea for two and two for tea,
Just me for you and you for me, alone!
Nobody near us, to see us or hear us,
No friends or relations on weekend vacations ” ~ Doris Day

Jasmine Tea Ice Cream

Doris Day’s lyrics really speak to me. I really need a vacation. Sipping on tea with The Hubby, enjoying our life together, free from work and stress, that sounds pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that my daydreams came true! During the long weekend we flew down to Miami with the Sugar family. Suddenly I was transported to a place far, far away – a place full of palm trees and beaches!

Swimming brought me back to my childhood when, during the dog days of summer, my sisters and I would take up residence at the beach and pool. We’d spend the entire day diving for rings and competing in underwater hand-stand contests. My parents used to call us “fish” because we lived in the water. In fact, we’d whine uncontrollably when it was time to go home. It didn’t matter that our fingers and toes were so pruned, and our hair completely disheveled from the chlorine – we refused to leave.

Jasmine tea pearls

One of my most fond memories was having underwater tea parties with my sisters. The three of us would dip underwater, sit on the pool floor, and arrange a tea party. We’d pour tea, eat crumpets and “chat”.  My mom was always in the pool with us, and I think she got a lot of nachas from seeing my sisters and I play so nicely. It was particularly fun, however, when my dad would hop in the pool and join us in our tea parties. He was such a good sport, and always made the funniest faces when pouring tea (yeah, I used to open my eyes under water and peek!). In Miami, The Husband even agreed to join me in an under-water tea party (a first in our marriage!) and let me tell you, it was just as much fun today as it was 20 years ago!

Steeping the tea bags in milk, hoping that the liquid turns a color...alas, it does not. Plain, white tea.

This ice cream would have been perfect for our tea parties! But, alas, I wasn’t making ice cream at the ripe old age of 8. And, to be honest, I would have never thought of this flavor except for the fact that someone challenged me to create it. I thought long and hard about how to make it, and realized that it’s probably like making a tea latte – and that’s just what I did.

So, here’s to enjoying tea for two – whether curled up on a chaise lounge with your loved one, or at an under-water tea party with your sisters. Cheers!

Churning the tea ice cream

Jasmine Tea Ice Cream

Adapted from Figs With Bri 

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

3/4 cup sugar

4 Jasmine Pearl Whole Leaf Tea Bags

Method

Hold on to your hats. This is extremely simple!

Beautiful jasmine tea ice cream

Warm the milk, half-and-half and sugar in a medium pot. Once the mixture starts to simmer and the sugar is blended, turn the heat down to low, add the four tea bags and let the tea steep for 15-20 minutes (depending on how strong you want the flavor to be). Turn off the heat and remove the tea bags. Make sure to wring out the excess liquid and flavor before discarding the tea bags. Taste. If you feel that the flavor is not bold enough, add one more tea bag, turn the heat up again and steep for 10-15 minutes. Personally 4 tea bags was enough for me, but my taste-testers (who were big Jasmine tea aficionados) said they would have liked it even stronger!

Let the mixture cool entirely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours.  Pour the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer safe container and enjoy!

"Pour" yourself a cup of Jasmine Tea Ice Cream and enjoy!

Note: As you can see, this recipe is not a custard (it’s egg-free) so its slightly less creamy, and does not keep as well in the freezer. I recommend eating this within a day or two when it’s still fresh and delicious.

The Verdict: Even though this basically looked like vanilla ice cream (all white -no color!) it tasted exactly like Jasmine tea. As someone who doesn’t really like Jasmine tea (or many teas for that matter) I could definitely appreciate that the taste was rich and spot-on, but I can’t say that I was stealing spoonfuls straight out of the ice cream maker. Yet, the Jasmine-tea-lover (who put me up to this recipe challenge in the first place!) said that the ice cream was really delicious. So, I guess this really is the perfect addition to any tea party. Enjoy!

Amorino Gelato

1 Sep

“L’amore si trova nel tuo cuore non per resarci, ma per essere condiviso.” ~ Italian Proverb

(Love is in your heart not to stay, but to be shared)

The famous Amorino flower

You know that intoxicating feeling you get when you buy someone a gift, and upon giving it to them, you see an enormous smile sweep across their face? It’s the best thing on earth.

So, if you’re anything like me, you derive great pleasure from giving gifts – from sharing something of yourself with others. As a kid I always loved getting gifts, and truly nothing has changed since then. I never understood why my parents would always take photos of me opening presents – was it because they loved documenting me with awful “sleepy hair” on the morning of my birthday? That’s what I used to think. Now as an adult, I realize they loved capturing my enormous smiles – my unadulterated joy and sheer happiness. Those reactions were just precious. I get it. My parents were the best. They still are.

This week, I received one of the coolest gifts in a while. I was invited by Amorino Gelato to come and take a behind-the-scenes tour of their flagship NY shop, learn about how they make each flavor, and even sample some gelato straight out of the machine. I was in seventh heaven.

Sorbets and Gelatos. All Natural. All Delicious.

Amorino’s name pretty much sums up their company’s motto and ethos. The translation of Amorino is “little love” or “cupid”, and they try to infuse every single bite with a little bit of love. Love for authentic Italian gelato, love for high-quality, organic ingredients, and most importantly, love for excellent flavor. Amorino believes (and I agree!) that their goal is to get the best flavor possible, using the best possible ingredients from around the world. They attempt – and in my opinion succeed – in infusing every single bite with strong flavor notes that are representative of true artisanal Italian gelato.

Churning the gelato...made fresh daily!

Filippo, the EVP/COO of the US branch of Amorino (did you know that they have 53 stores in Europe?) is from a small town in Italy, called Reggio Emilia. In his town of 150,000 people (or 400,000 if you count the surrounding areas) there are 80 gelato shops. That’s insane (and my dream come true!). His father is a Gelato master, and it’s this family treasure that has propelled him, and Amorino, forward into the US gelato market.

For consistency’s sake, Amorino mixes all their ingredients in Paris (where the company is headquartered) and blast freeze it before sending to NYC for production. Then, in the basement of the Union Square shop, they churn each individual flavor daily. Everything is all-natural so even though they use stabilizers, theirs are totally natural. In fact, they are so committed to good, wholesome ingredients that if you take a close look, their grapefruit sorbet is uber shiny – “too shiny for my taste” says Filippo. But, the shine is actually a result of the organic stabilizer – and let me tell you, it is delicious. I suppose the shininess is just a small price to pay for organic, natural delights.

And that's my chocolate gelato straight from the machine. Life is good.

Good ingredients make good gelato. Plain and simple. So it should come as no surprise that Amornio uses only the best of the best. Pistacios from Sicily, Hazelnuts from Piedmont, Chocolate and Bananas from Ecuador, Vignola Cherries from Italy, Alphonso mangoes from India, Speculoos from Belgium, and Amaretto and Passion fruit from Italy. But, the best flavor, in my opinion is “L’Inimitabile” literally meaning, “it can’t compare.” Well hell, they’re sure right about that! This flavor (once called Nutella) is a chocolate hazelnut that is, simply put, to die for. The flavor is so accurate, yet not too rich, so creamy, yet not too milky, and utterly delicious.

Artesanal Gelato. Fresh Daily. The sign says it all!

Visiting their kitchen was a dream come true – and being able to sample chocolate gelato straight from the machine as it was churning, is something I will never forget. It was outrageous! Delicious! I loved it. Ti amo! Italian is, after all, the language of love.

At the end of my tour, I got my very own Amorino flower. When I asked Filippo how this shape came to be, he told me that’s how gelato is served in his region. What? You mean, not only did those geniuses create gelato but they also invented the beautiful presentation? They don’t glob half scoops of gelato into a cone and hand it to you, half melting down the side. Instead, they meticulously (yet impressively quickly!) craft a flower, with the most firm flavor in the middle to create the center petals, and up to 22 other flavors surrounding it. For someone who loves to sample a lot of flavors (but not too many at once, or else you’ll miss the unique flavor that each one offers), this Amorino flower is the way to go.

Check out my awesome Amorino flower....

Bottom line: run, don’t walk to Amorino. You must taste what I’m talking about.

Luckily, as I was leaving, Filippo sensed my sheer happiness, and managed to snap a shot of me eating my very own Amorino flower (that’s my flower on the right, but not me!) Filippo definitely gets it. Sharing your gift with others is, in it of itself, the greatest gift one can give. Thanks Amorino for sharing your story and gelato with me. It was truly a precious present!

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

15 Aug

Did you know that the most popular flavor of ice cream in the United States is Vanilla? According to the NDP Group’s National Eating Trends In-Home Database, 27.8% of people favor vanilla ice cream above all other flavors!

Creamy vegan vanilla bean ice cream

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately for vegan ice cream. I personally have a real affinity for all-things dairy, but sadly a bunch of my friends simply cannot eat it. So, I caved, and made vegan vanilla bean ice cream. The texture was perfect. The flavor was a little sweet, but I was so impressed at how beautifully it thickened (considering it was made with soy milk, which is essentially water-based) that it overshadowed the sweetness of this treat.

This vegan vanilla treat is the second layer in my upcoming Watermelon Bombe. You know, watermelon rind is green, then it has a white layer (name, anyone? is it pith? rind?) and then the actual watermelon fruit itself. So hold on to your hats folks because this means that the Watermelon Bombe is going to be revealed very soon!

A few months ago I made Soy Latte Ice Cream and while the flavor was terrific, the ice cream was a little icy and watery. I blamed the poor consistency on the fact that it was my first foray into vegan treats, and knew that I would have to try again. This vegan ice cream was my chance for redemption and ka-ching, I hit the jackpot. Had it not worked, I would have still blogged about it, but would have been a major whiny pants!

A little ice cream lesson if you will:

Fat does not freeze, fat is good (well, sort of…please don’t take that out of context!) and fat is smooth and creamy. This is why “full-fat” aka cream-based ice creams are, well, creamier. If you try substituting skim milk or other lower fat dairy products in place of half-and-half, whipping cream or even whole milk, you’ll notice that the next day, the ice cream is rock hard and you’ll actually need an ice pick to eat it.

Soy milk and arrow root flour...mixed together and heated they are a great thickening agent

Well, water based products (like soy milk) tend not to have as much fat, and therefore get icier and freeze harder. Egg yolks could be of assistance in the creaminess department due to their emulsifying properties, but then this recipe would not have been vegan.

So, the general consensus is to add 2 tbs of arrow root flour to the mixture. Let me tell you, it thickens beautifully and makes the ice cream ever so creamy. It was honestly like magic.

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Adapted from The Vegan Scoop

Ingredients

2 cups soy milk*

1 cup soy creamer

1 tbs vanilla bean paste (I would suggest using 3/4 of a tbs next time)

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbs arrow root flour

*I used 1 cup of vanilla soy milk and 1 cup of regular soy milk. I would not recommend this as it was too sweet, but I had it in the house and didn’t want it to go to waste. Next time I’ll only use regular soy milk. You live and you learn.

Vegan vanilla bean ice cream churning...

Method

Mix 2tbs of arrow root flour with 1/2 cup of soy milk and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the soy creamer, remaining 1 1/2 cups of soy milk and sugar in a saucepan until small bubbles form around the edges. Do not let it boil. Once hot, remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the soy milk and arrow root flour mixture. You will notice that the mixture begins to thicken, almost like when adding milk to an instant pudding mixture. Continue stirring until the entire mixture is blended and then add in the tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.

Let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating at least 2 hours. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll notice that this ice cream will churn faster than non-egg based recipes but on par with custards. Remove from the machine and eat or put in a freezer safe container to store.

The Verdict: Other than the fact that this recipe was too sweet (mea culpa…I should not have used vanilla soy milk) it was still pretty yummy. Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of dairy-free ice cream because that’s not really ice cream thankyouverymuch but all things considered this was really quite good! Being that this was made with soy milk (and not coconut milk or cashews) it had a slight soy aftertaste, but that’s to be expected. And like I said earlier, the texture was perfecto!

Stay tuned for the watermelon bombe extravaganza…