Sunday, May 18, 2008

Curry coconut peanut butter ice cream

I discussed the origin of this ice cream a couple weeks ago at the end of this post. (and now that I look at it, I forgot about adding in bits of banana. It may not be too late yet. Nope it's already solidified into concrete.) And this week seemed a good time to give it a try. I started with equal parts peanut butter and coconut milk and then I had to judge how much sweeter it needed to be and what sort and how much curry to add.

Both peanut butter and coconut milk have a bit of natural sweetness but only enough that they hover at the midpoint between sweet and savory and can be pushed either way depending on what other ingredients you add. As I was going to be adding curry powder I decided I needed to add just a bit of sugar to ensure it stayed on the sweet side of things. Next was the curry. There are an infinite variety of curries spice blends from all over southern Asia but all I had on hand were a South Indian blend and a Singapore blend (I thought I had Thai as well, but I was mistaken). Both contain coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek and red pepper, but the Singapore blend adds black pepper, lemon peel and citric acid for a much brighter flavor. I thought the Singapore worked well with the peanuts so I used that. I also added vanilla to mellow out the brightness and to keep it tasting like dessert.

At this point I could have called it pudding and served it, but since I was going to freeze it I had to unbalance the flavors to add both more sweetness and more spice to compensate for the muting of flavors at low temperatures. I also decided that the mix was a bit too thick so I added the sweetness in the form of honey to thin it out a bit.

Not thin enough, though. After a night in the refrigerator the mix had nearly solidified. I decided to giving churning a try anyway (as most mixes that solidify loosen right up with a good stir), but it just wadded itself up on the paddle so I had to take it out and add some milk to make it workable. I only added a half cup but I don't think that was really enough so I suggest a full cup in the ingredient list below. That does make it too much mix for many churns, though. You might want to cut the peanut butter and coconut milk down to a cup apiece instead.

1 1/2 cups natural (but salted) peanut butter
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon Singapore curry
1 cup milk

1. Just mix, chill, churn and ripen.

That worked a bit better but not perfectly. I found that my ice cream churn's bucket doesn't really fit snugly on the base so it wobbles around as it spins. It seemed to work out OK last week as I didn't even notice and the pear ice cream came out just fine, but this time nearly a third of the mix ended up stuck to the sides and bottom of the bucket. I wonder if I have a mismatched set. Maybe it was just the unreasonably thick mix that caused it to become a problem; I'll have to make something quite thin next time and see how it works out. I haven't gotten rid of my old churn yet so I can always revert.

I'm not entirely happy with the flavor of the ice cream as it came out of the churn. The peanuts dominate and everything else is relegated to grace notes. The flavors should shift again after ripening, though so I'm withholding full judgment for now.

Well, they didn't shift all that much. The curry is noticeable and give an agreeable complexity to the peanut flavor, but the coconut and the other flavors are too subtle to notice. The curry is a nice compliment to the peanuts--I'll be adding curry to my next batch of peanut butter cookies--but it's still disappointingly straightforward. Nothing that chocolate sauce can't cure, though.

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