Honey Lavender Ice Cream with Candied Hazelnuts

img_3943Earlier this month I made lavender shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate with sea salt, inspired by my trip to Croatia, where lavender permeated the streets.  This week I’m continuing on my Croatian culinary adventure by making ice cream with lavender, honey and candied hazelnuts, all from Croatia.

Side note: I also brought back some amazing white truffles which I used this week to flavor some homemade pasta with butter and parmesan cheese!!!!

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But back to the ice cream!  I previously made honey ice cream  a few years ago by substituting sugar for honey in my go-to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream recipe.  This recipe is a simple variation on the honey ice cream by infusing the milk and cream with lavender and then adding chopped candied hazelnuts.  However, you can change it up and add anything you want like chocolate chips- everything is better with chocolate!

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Honey Lavender Ice Cream with Candied Hazelnuts (adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup  honey
2 Tbs dried lavender
1/2 cup chopped candied hazelnuts (confession: I cheated and used pre-made candied hazelnuts from Croatia)

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, honey, and lavender in a 4-quart saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Chill
Gradually pour the hot milk mixture through a strainer/sieve into the cream cheese mixture, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. When almost done spinning, add the candied hazelnuts and spin until evenly distributed.  Pack the ice cream into a storage container. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

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A Duo of Ice Creams: Blueberry Lavender Chip and Salty Caramel Peanut Chip

I’ve been on a bit of an ice cream making kick recently.  It started in June when I was rotating on the burn surgery service.  To minimize heat loss from critically ill burn patients, the operating room is kept heated at a balmy 100 degrees.  While this is good for the patient, after  3 (or 7) hours it starts to make the surgeon  (aka me) a bit delirious (or just outright cray cray).  Thus, I instituted Ice Cream Fridays to have something sweet and COLD to look forward to at the end of the week.

Although I am no longer on the burn service, the temperature outside the operating room has risen prompting me to continue my ice cream making (although really I need no excuse to make ice cream!).

Last month I took advantage of in-season blueberries to create Blueberry Lavender Chip Ice Cream.  This recipe is a variation on the Wildberry Lavender Ice Cream by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  I did not have essence of lavender oil as called for in the original recipe so instead used some dried lavender flowers I had previously purchased to add a subtle lavender undertone.  I then added white and dark chocolate chips for texture and because everything is better with chocolate!  The result is a beautiful purple, creamy ice cream studded with crunchy rich white and dark chocolate chunks with a mild floral aftertaste from the lavender.

My next creation was also a spin on a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream flavor.  I started with her Salty Caramel Ice Cream (with a little extra salt added) and then added roasted peanuts and dark chocolate.  The combination of the salt, caramel, chocolate and peanuts is reminiscent of a Snicker’s bar…in a sophisticated and semi-frozen form.

If you want to have fun with ice cream this summer (or anytime) I highly recommend checking out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream cookbook (I promise I am not sponsored by them!).  The recipes are fairly straight forward and easy to make with a wide variety of flavor combinations!

Blueberry Lavender Chip Ice Cream

(adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream)

1/2 cup wild blueberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Pinch of dried lavender flowers
3 oz each chopped white and dark chocolate

For the blueberries:
Combine blueberries and 2 Tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.  Bring mixture to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, set aside and cool.

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar,  corn syrup, and dried lavender in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Chill
Gradually pour hot milk mixture through a strainer and into the cream cheese mixture, whisking as you pour until smooth.  Add blueberry sauce and stir until combined.  Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.  Just before the ice cream is done, add in the white and dark chocolate chunks and spin until thoroughly mixed.

Salty Caramel Peanut Chip Ice Cream

(adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream)

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbs light corn syrup
4 oz. salted and roasted peanuts
4 oz. chopped dark chocolate

 

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Mix corn syrup and cream.

Cook

DISCLAIMER FROM JENI’S SPLENDID ICE CREAM:

Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don’t add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:

Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color-like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.

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Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note above). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.

Chill
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.  Just before the ice cream is done, add the peanuts and chocolate chunks and spin until mixed in.

Cookies and (Ice) Cream Sandwiches

I’ll admit it…I’ve been lazy.  I promise that I have actually been cooking and baking for past several weeks of my blog hiatus!  Unfortunately, the whole work/saving lives thing has gotten in the way of documenting my tasty treats for the blogging world to drool over.  For those who have missed me, here is a much belated Super Bowl post.

One of my favorite memories from childhood involves football and my dad:  When I was in 3rd grade we had a whole month of gym dedicated to football.  One of our homework assignments was to watch football and learn the rules of the game.  Now I’m sure most of the boys were excited by this assignment but I would have much preferred to do math equations or read about chemistry (I was a really cool kid when I was 8).  I naturally put the assignment off, but one Monday night after I had gone to bed, my Dad came and woke me up to watch Monday Night Football.  Just me and him-our little secret! I’m sure my mom knew but it felt pretty secretive back then to be up late on a school night watching football!

While I’m by no means a football expert these days, I do still remember a few rules of the game that my dad taught me that night.  And once a year, I recall those lessons and suffer through 3 hours of football for the sake of eating delicious food- aka the Super Bowl!  My foodie friends and I have made somewhat a tradition of it and this year was no different; Roasted pig’s head and feet tacos from a beloved local restaurant, chicken wings, kale salad, chipotle bean dip, and chips and guacamole rounded out the feast.   Obviously a feast like this called for an equally amazing dessert- ice cream sandwiches!  However, these are no ordinary ice cream sandwiches.   These combine the Flour Oreo cookie with the mascarpone cheese ice cream I’ve adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  They were a little messy to eat but a great ending to a not so exciting Super Bowl!

Cookies and (Ice) Cream Sandwiches

For the Oreo Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

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In a medium bowl, whisk the butter and the sugar until combined. Whisk in the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add the egg and stir until well blended.

In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to blend them. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The finished dough should feel like Play-Doh. Cover the dough with plastic, and set aside for 1 hour or until firm.

Place the dough on a long sheet of parchment paper. Use your hands to shape it into a rough log, about 10 inches long and 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the parchment. Roll the parchment around the log. With your hands on the paper, roll the dough into a tighter log, keeping the diameter the same.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or until it is firm enough to slice without crumbling.

Set the oven at 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Remove the dough from the paper. Cut the log into about 24 slices- I used thicker slices than the recipe calls for so they would stand up better to the ice cream. Set them on the baking sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, checking them often after 15 minutes, or until they are firm when touched in the center.  Cool completely on the sheets.

For the Mascarpone Ice Cream:

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 oz of mascarpone cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the mascarpone cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Chill
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the mascarpone cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Pour the ice cream into your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Assembly

Once the ice cream has chilled, roll into a log about 3 inches in diameter and then chill again until frozen and holds its shape.  Cut into 12 approximately 1/2 inch slices and top half of the oreo cookies with the ice cream slices.  Then top with the remaining oreo cookies and serve.

Shana Tova: Honey Ice Cream

Shana Tova!  This past Wednesday evening marked the beginning of Rosh Hashana- the Jewish New Year.  This day is also known as the “Day of Judgement” when 3 books of account are opened: One for the righteous who are immediately inscribed into the book of life, one for the wicked who are cast out of the book of life forever, and one for the indeterminate who are given 10 days to reflect and repent until final judgment on Yom Kippur.  Despite the serious undertones of the holiday, I fondly remember Rosh Hashana as a joyous holiday full of celebration, shofar (a musical instrument made of out of a horn) blowing, brisket, and of course apples and honey.  It is Ashkenazi custom to eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashana to welcome in the sweet new year.

Despite my crazy vampire schedule at the hospital (I am once again working the night shift), I was determined to make Rosh Hashana dinner for my friends.  It was a big undertaking: brisket (for 10 people), roasted potatoes, 2 challahs (one regular braided challah and one round challah with apples and honey in the tradition of Rosh Hashana), an apple tart and chocolate peanut butter brownies.  I was debating buying plain, vanilla ice cream to go with the apple tart since I was already pushed for time, but last minute I had a brilliant idea and a burst of energy! The result?  Honey ice cream!  Although ice cream sounds difficult to make, I think I’ve proved that it really only takes a few ingredients and a little time and then the ice cream machine does the rest of the work.  Once the idea of honey ice cream was in my head, I couldn’t ignore it.   I decided to take the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream base and substitute honey for the sugar.  I wasn’t sure how this would affect the texture but decided it was worth a shot…and it was!  It was deliciously smooth and creamy and paired perfectly with the apple tart for a sweet start to the new year.

Honey Ice Cream (adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean
3 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup + 2 Tbs  honey, plus extra for drizzling in between layers of ice cream

Prep
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Cook
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, and honey in a 4-quart saucepan.  Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the mixture and then add the bean.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and remove vanilla bean (carefully).

Chill
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Freeze
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of honey drizzle (as much or as little as you want); do not mix. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Mascarpone Cheese and Blackberry Ice Cream

As promised, here is the follow up to last week’s post detailing my North Shore berry picking adventure at Russell Orchards.  After making a tart with my freshly picked blueberries, I decided to go a different route with the blackberries: ice cream!  

Earlier this summer I dedicated a post to sweet corn ice cream by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.   The ice cream was such a success that I bought her cookbook and decided that this was the perfect time to explore it!  One recipe that caught my eye was a goat cheese and roasted cherry ice cream.  Per usual, I decided to modify it a bit by substituting mascarpone cheese (one of my favorite sweet and savory ingredients) for the cream cheese and goat cheese.  Instead of the roasted cherries, I used my hand picked blackberries and made her blackberry sauce.   The result is a sweet, smooth and creamy ice cream layered with a tart blackberry sauce making for a perfect contrast of flavors.

Click here for the recipe. Continue reading

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

I have been wanting to make this ice cream for a really long time. The first time I had corn ice cream was at Olive’s in Charlestown (RIP) served on a berry crisp. I was initially a little skeptical of corn ice cream but was soon proven wrong. With the sweet corn flavor, it is slightly reminiscent of cornbread, but in a cold, smooth and creamy form. Paired with tart berries it’s the perfect combination.

This recipe is from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. For those who haven’t tried her ice cream, you are missing out. James Beard Award winning Jeni Britton Bauer has been making delicious flavors, such as salty caramel, goat cheese with red cherries, and sweet corn, since 2002. While her shops are located in Ohio (and one in Tenessee), her ice cream can be found at many national grocery stores (locally can be found at Savenor’s, Formaggio Kitchen, and South End Buttery) and even ordered online. Now that corn is coming into season, this is the perfect summer ice cream! It’s especially great on berry pie (see last post).

Sweet Corn Ice Cream (from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

2 cups milk
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 ear of corn
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened

In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside. Cut kernels off cob of corn and cut cob into large chunks; reserve kernels and cob together. In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar, syrup, and salt; add corn kernels and cob and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes; stir in slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl and discard corn solids.
Place cream cheese in a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup hot milk mixture; whisk until smooth. Then whisk in remaining milk mixture. Pour mixture into a plastic bag; seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place into a storage container and freeze at least 1 hour before eating.