Friday, June 8, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: It's all about ice cream!

Now that the weather is warm, I'm in ice-cream-making mode. The great thing about making your own is that you can make any flavor you like - from plain vanilla to odd flavors, to loaded with add-ins. The sky's the limit.

I'll admit it. Sometimes I'm not that creative. Sometimes the ice cream is just plain chocolate. But sometimes I get inspired.

Inspired By Irish Cream Liqueur

The first ice cream idea struck me when I was browsing through the liquor store and saw a bottle of an Irish cream liqueur with mint. I thought that sounded interesting.But I decided to skip the middleman and go right to the source. Instead of using that liqueur, I picked up a bottle of Irish whiskey.

For the mint flavor, I decided to use a chocolate mint, and  picked out a bar of Green & Black's mint bar. I'd tried it before and thought it had the right flavor to match with the Irish whiskey.

Irish Minty-Chocolate Ice Cream

1 quart half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Irish whiskey
3.5 ounces Green & Black's mint chocolate (1 bar)

Heat the half-and-half in a saucepan. Add the sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.

Slowly add some of the half-and-half to the eggs, whisking as you do so, until you've got a least a cup of the hot liquid added to the yolks and the yolk mixture is warm. You can add more, if you like.

Add the yolk mixture back to the half-and-half in the saucepan, stirring continuously, until all the yolks are added. Continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture comes back to a simmer or a low boil, and the mixture begins to thicken - you'll notice the "drag" on your spoon as you stir.

Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and whiskey.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a storage container. Refrigerate the mixture until it is thoroughly chilled - at least four hours, or overnight.

When you're ready to churn the mixture. chop the mint chocolate bar into small pieces and add it to your chilled mixture. Stir to combine, then churn the mixture according to the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and transfer it to a storage container. Freeze until firm.

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

I like nuts mixed into ice cream, and I like nut butter swirled into ice cream. This time I mixed the nut butter right into the ice cream. The result is a rich, creamy ice cream that tastes nutty.

Since the nut butter I used wasn't completely smooth, there are bits of nuts in the ice cream as well.

You can choose any nut butter you like - smooth or chunky will work. I used a mix of cashew butter and macadamia nut butter - and if you can't find exactly the right mix, you can grind your own.

If the nut butter you use is unsalted, add the full teaspoon of salt. If the nut butter is salted, add less salt.

Cashew and Macadamia Ice Cream

3 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup nut butter

Heat the half-and-half in a saucepan. Add the sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.

Slowly add some of the half-and-half to the eggs, whisking as you do so, until you've got a least a cup of the hot liquid added to the yolks and the yolk mixture is warm. You can add more, if you like.

Add the yolk mixture back to the half-and-half in the saucepan, stirring continuously, until all the yolks are added. Continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture comes back to a simmer or a low boil, and the mixture begins to thicken - you'll notice the "drag" on your spoon as you stir.

Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a storage container. Add the nut butter and stir to combine. Refrigerate the mixture until it is thoroughly chilled - at least four hours, or overnight.

Churn in your ice cream maker according to the ice cream maker manufacturer's directions. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and freeze until firm.

Salted Chocolate, Anyone?

Salted chocolate is trendy these days, but it's about more than adding salt to chocolate. For the salt flavor to really "pop," the salt crystals need to remain intact.

To get that salted-chocolate flavor in this ice cream, I chose a chocolate bar that included salt, and I added bits of that to the ice cream.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Salted Chocolate Bits

3 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 ounces dark chocolate
3 1/2 ounces Lindt "A Touch of Sea Salt" chocolate

Heat the half-and-half in a saucepan. Add the sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl and chop the 7 ounces of dark chocolate into small pieces.
Slowly add some of the half-and-half to the eggs, whisking as you do so, until you've got a least a cup of the hot liquid added to the yolks and the yolk mixture is warm. You can add more, if you like.

Add the yolk mixture back to the half-and-half in the saucepan, stirring continuously, until all the yolks are added. Continue cooking, stirring, until the mixture comes back to a simmer or a low boil, and the mixture begins to thicken - you'll notice the "drag" on your spoon as you stir.

Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a storage container. Add the 7 ounces of chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate the mixture until it is thoroughly chilled - at least four hours, or overnight.

Chop the salted chocolate bar into pieces and add it to the ice cream base. Stir to combine, then churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the ice cream maker manufacturer's directions.

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container and freeze until firm.

For more information about Whole Foods Friday, see the tab at the top.
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