Friday, January 2, 2009

CSA week four - Acorn squash/white chocolate/brown sugar ice cream

I came really close to not making this. Right after the holidays I'd have trouble finding an audience for any ice cream. Experimental stuff like this is just a waste of perfectly good food. But once I got the flavor combination in my head I wanted to at least try it out. I compromised by making only a half batch.

I started out by roasting the squash the same way as last time: cut in half and cleaned; 30 minutes at 350 degrees, covered, face down in a water bath; 15 minutes covered face up; and 15 minutes uncovered face up to finish. No stuffing, but I did use a dark brown sugar-butter glaze. When it was finished I scooped out the meat and mashed it up with the not-so-successful glaze that ended up puddled in the squash cavity.

I only needed a half cup for the small batch of ice cream so I mixed the rest with a handful of breadcrumbs and finely diced ham, onions and pepper to make fritters that didn't have quite the structural integrity one might wish for. I should have added an egg. Tasted pretty good, though.

As for the ice cream, I put
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons white chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
on the stove. I really only need everything melted and mixed, but I scalded the milk just on principle. No custard since I figure the cocoa butter and the squash should give plenty of body.

That, cooled a bit, went into the food processor with the half cup of acorn squash for a good blend. I thought I got it pretty smooth, but the final result is kind of gritty. I have a problem with that too frequently; I have to start straining my ice cream mixes more often. All the better recipes call for it.

I neglected to take a picture of the blended mix. It was beige. It also didn't have a lot of squash flavor probably because all those bits that will become grit later were lying at the bottom. Just white chocolate and brown sugar is pretty good. I'll have to make that without the squash sometime.

Here it is after churning. It thickened up pretty quickly, but, like I said, with some graininess. I pulled it a little early since it showed some signs that it might overharden. Things never turn out well if it goes past soft-serve texture in the churn.

I saved the squash seeds thinking I'd bake them up for a snack, but it occured to me that they might mix in well. I cleaned them, dried them off well, and tossed them with a few drops of oil, salt, more brown sugar and cinnamon before baking them at 375 for 15 minutes. That was a little too long, but they weren't so burnt that I couldn't claim I did it on purpose. They started popping like popcorn at around eight minutes. I probably should have pulled them out when they stopped.

The final product's not bad. The flavors blend nicely with the squash savory note on the more powerful caramel-esque of the brown sugar and white cocolate. And the seeds add a nice toastiness; the slightly burnt flavor is gone thankfully. There are textural issues though. It's a little gritty and, after a pleasing crunch, the seeds leave nasty chewy bits to deal with. So not an enitely unsuccessful experiment. I want to try a pumpkin pie topped with a white chocolate ganache. Someone remind me next Fall, please.


kat said...

What an odd combination

billjac said...

Well, pumpkin and white chocolate isn't an entirely unknown combination and acorn squash isn't that far off so I figured it was worth a shot.