Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ice Cream Experiment #13 - New fruit

The aforementioned mamey sapote ripened surprisingly well over just one day in my pantry. Of course, my pantry spends most of the day at 90 degrees so it usually looks like that time lapse film of a rotting fruit bowl in there. I pulled the mamey out just in time and it was close to its peak when I put it to use. The texture was creamy and smooth, not like banana, but more like papaya or avocado. The flavor was unmistakably tropical--somewhere near papaya or guava--with maybe a touch of sweet squash.

I substituted it in for bananas in this recipe. I also switched out the corn syrup for Spenda blend. That let me cut the calories a bit and I figure leaving out corn syrup is its own reward. I know a bit of corn syrup can keep a sugar syrup from crystallizing, but I can't figure out why you'd use just corn syrup in an ice cream recipe. I also used milk instead of the cream. I didn't need the cream when I made banana ice cream (ice milk really) before and I figured I'd do fine without now.

That banana ice cream was actually a bananas foster ice cream so I included nutmeg, allspice, orange zest, brown sugar and rum to complement the banana (I'll post the full recipe next week some time). From my reading on mamey sapote, the complementary flavors are vanilla, cinnamon and lime. I decided to go all out and scrape out a vanilla pod, grate off some whole cinnamon (well, cassia. I don't have any real cinnamon) and squeeze in some fresh lime. A full pod was probably a bit much, but I only thought of that after splitting it all the way.

Those three, plus a bit over a pound of mamey and a cup of milk went into the blender. The end result was thicker than your average ice cream mix and stuck to the inside of the blender so after scraping it out I added a bit more milk and gave it a spin to dissolve. The end result still turned nearly solid in the refrigerator after a few hours cooling.

Churning went quickly, but the texture actually went from smooth to a bit lumpy. That was probably the start of a more solid freezing, but I have a habit of pulling out my ice cream a bit early. I tend to be afraid the bucket is losing its chill in my hot kitchen and more churning will see the process start to reverse. Be that as it may, here's what it looked like coming out of the churn. Here, in the soft-serve stage, the texture on the tongue is a bit gritty; unlike the banana ice cream, you can definitely tell it's mostly fruit. The flavor is not as complex or rich as I would have liked; the grace notes of vanilla, cinnamon and lime are pretty much lost. Or maybe not, I don't have a clear recollection of what the fresh mamey tasted like. Maybe the current flavor is a melange.

After ripening, the texture turned out more solid than I'd like. I should have treated it like a sorbet and added some rum or vodka to break up the sugar crystals. That must be what the corn syrup is for, too. I'd think the fructose in the fruit would be sufficient, but clearly not. The bananas foster ice cream had a full 1/4 cup of rum which may account for the resulting texture as much as the bananas did (and the roasting of the bananas may well have had an effect, too).

Next time I get my hands on a mamey, I'll add rum and I'll roast the fruit which I hope will break it down and lose the gritty mouth feel. Also, I think I'll put a half cup of cream back in. Couldn't hurt. Still and all, I'd call this a good first-attempt mamey sapote sherbet.

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