April 19, 2009

Green Tea Ice Cream with Honey and Vanilla Bean

This Christmas saw the introduction of an appliance that's been 'desperately' required in my kitchen for a while- an ice cream machine! After years of attempting to make perfect ice cream with no machine, and certainly with no perfect results, I came to the conclusion that an ice cream machine is completely necessary for the ice-cream obsessed.

Without a machine you are committed to being home once every hour to stir the ice cream to achieve the desired smooth consistency. However, if you don't work from home, then finding a day that allows you to be available this often is quite a rare occurrence.

A Cuisinart ice cream machine is the answer! It's stylish with clean lines and a smooth exterior true to the ice cream it produces. It's simply designed, and that means less moving parts, so there is less chance of breakage and the need for maintenance. This way it should last for a very long time. I've used it every few weeks since Christmas and definitely our consumption of ice cream has increased, but because I only make small batches (lots of small batches = more experimentation!) we then eat less of it at any one time- and it all works out!

Not all experimentations in 2009 have been successful, but there are a few recipes that did work and are very worth mentioning, such as rich coffee ice cream, chocolate and spice, coffee-chocolate (coming soon!), and this one:

Green tea (Matcha) ice cream flavoured with honey and vanilla bean. The flavours work really well together and surprisingly the honey, although I only used a small amount, really came through when the ice cream was completely frozen. In its 'soft-serve' state the honey is less vivid but still enjoyable.

As with most ice creams, start by making a simple custard:

- In a small pan on low to medium heat, heat 250ml whipping cream with half a cup medium-fat milk (2% or semi-skimmed).
- To the cream add the seeds and the pod of half a vanilla bean. The other half of the vanilla pod can be stored in an airtight container for another time.

- In a mixing bowl combine 100g caster sugar or Fairtrade/organic sugar with 3 egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow in colour. To this add slightly less than 1 tbsp matcha (fine green tea powder) and stir until any lumps dissolve.

- When the cream mixture is heated through add 2 tbsps of mild honey then remove from the heat and pour through a sieve into the egg mixture quickly stirring with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
- Return to the pan and heat on a low heat for about 10 minutes, frequently stirring until the custard has thickened. You will need to watch the custard closely. When you can draw a line through the custard on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon then the custard will be ready.

Once thickened remove the custard from the heat and be sure to cool it to at least blood temperature before adding it to the ice cream machine. I have noticed that either the honey or the matcha powder seems to stop the ice cream from freezing as fast as it normally does within the machine, so if after 25 minutes the ice cream is still in a 'soft-serve' state, then transfer to a container and complete the freezing in the freezer. With a bit of patience wait until the next day and you will have scrumptious, silky smooth honeyed green tea and vanilla ice cream.


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