I met my first ice cream machine last summer when I walked onto the set of Food Network’s dessert show, Sweet Genius. Call me crazy, but yes, I made my first ever batch of homemade ice cream in front of millions of people. Sadly, my rosemary ginger ice cream did not make it onto my plate and Judge Ron Ben-Israel never got to taste it. I survived that round anyway and decided then and there that it was time to master ice cream.
When you’re a pastry chef, you try to save some desserts for eating out. It is disheartening to read a dessert menu and see a list of desserts you make on a regular basis. Until last year I saved ice cream for eating out, and would treat myself only when I was at the beach, a restaurant that had an interesting flavor, in Europe or at Rondeau’s Dairy Bar in Palmer, Massachusetts, just up the road from Camp Ramah. Yet now that I make ice cream, I am running out of desserts to order when I am out. Given how much sugar I have to eat in my line of work, perhaps that is not such a bad outcome.
Last week at the Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC, among the multitude of razor thin crackers, flavored sodas, goat milk caramels and infinite tea companies there were many ice cream companies promoting all kinds of whacky ice cream flavors. To date, the strangest frozen treat I have made is avocado sorbet, for which my kids still mock me. Beer ice cream was also a dud because the beer flavor was completely obscured by the vanilla.
At the food show, I found Chozen ice cream, which has flavors such as chocolate babka swirl (yummy) and ronne’s rugelach, and new dairy-free ones such as heavenly halvah and coffee talk. Moorenko, a local company that produces ice cream minutes from my house, has flavors such as rice pudding and fresh ginger, and they expect to receive kosher certification later this year.
I tasted Coconut Bliss's delicious ice cream which is entirely dairy-free and uses coconut milk rather than milk and cream. That gave me an idea. I have wanted to attempt parve ice cream for a while and was considering using parve whipping cream and soymilk. Coconut milk is a healthier and tastier option. You will not believe how creamy this ice cream is and you will swear that it is dairy. It reminds me of eating coconut ice cream pops on the beach in Tel Aviv many years ago.
I tried several ice cream-making methods before I bought the cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Jeni’s method uses cream cheese, a little corn syrup and cornstarch to thicken her ice creams rather than eggs. Her method does, however, require the use of two whisks, two silicone spatulas, at least three bowls and sometimes two saucepans. The instructions are easy to follow and the result is spectacular and creamy ice cream with deep flavors. The chocolate coconut ice cream below was a bit hard to scoop when I took it out of the freezer, but after a few minutes it softened perfectly. Happy Summer!
I use the Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker. They also make a duo machine that makes two flavors simultaneously and a new model that has a setting for gelato.
Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Coconut Ice Cream Base
3 cups coconut milk, the thick, white creamy kind
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
Place the cocoa, water, and ½ cup sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and whisk well. Turn heat to medium low and cook for one minute, whisking often. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk well.
Place the cream cheese and salt into a medium bowl and use a silicone spatula to mix blend together.
In a small bowl, place the cornstarch. Measure two tablespoons of coconut milk out of the three cups and add to the cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.
Set up a large mixing bowl with about 3-4 cups ice cubes and 2-3 cups water. Have a gallon freezer bag ready for the ice cream.
Place the coconut milk, sugar and corn syrup into a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat until boiling. Turn heat down to medium low and cook for three minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat and turn heat down to low. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and stir. Place back on the heat over medium low and cook for two minutes, until mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and add about ½ cup of the hot mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk well. Add another ½ cup and whisk in. Pour in the remaining mixture and whisk well. Pour into the gallon freezer bag, squeeze out the extra air, seal and let chill in the water bath for 30 minutes, adding more ice if it all melts.
Pour into the chilled container of your ice cream machine and spin and freeze until thick and creamy and the machine stops spinning. Chill for 3-4 hours.