Friday, April 23, 2010

Five-spice vanilla ice cream

I made two batches of ice cream for a going-away party at work yesterday. My freezer is still packed full so I had to bring my churn in, make them there and serve them soft. It's kind of a pain to haul the equipment around, but it also let me simplify the recipes because I don't have to worry about the texture once they ripen up in the freezer. In this case, that just meant I didn't bother with the corn starch. To be honest, I'm not sure how much effect the corn starch has on the final texture, but I do know that leaving it out takes all of the cooking out of the recipes. If there's a step to skip, that's the one.

The original plan was to keep it simple--just make vanilla and strawberry--but inspiration struck and what was I supposed to do other than follow my muse?

For the strawberry, the results were fine, but not as interesting as I hoped. That recipe was:
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
1 pint strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
Hershey's strawberry syrup to taste.

I would have prefered to use real strawberry syrup, but I haven't got any left. The hope there was to boost the complexity of the strawberry flavors by including both cooked and raw (or in this case artificial and real) versions. I was also hoping the coconut milk would add some extra interest. Nope, it just tasted like strawberry ice cream. Nothing wrong with that I suppose; people liked it.

The mutated vanilla ice cream, though, was pretty fabulous. That's the root beer float flavor in the title. That recipe was:
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cream
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
1 Tablespoon vanilla paste
1 pinch salt
1 big pinch five spice powder

Five spice powder, if you don't have it memorized or a bottle nearby to check, is made of cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise and white pepper. I just did a search and found a handful of recipes that pair it with vanilla for sweet applications including some ice creams, but I think I'm the only one to also use condensed milk which really made this recipe really work well. Other than the pepper, the spices in five spice all have sweet uses. Marrying them with the vanilla the caramel notes from the condensed milk and the cream comes up with something pretty close to a root beer float--accessibly tasty but hard to pin down and with an interesting burn in the aftertaste. A lot of the odder flavors I make are interesting novelties, but this one's a keeper. You've got all those ingredients in the house; try it.


June said...

The vanilla sounds delicious!!! I might try it.

kat said...

I love the idea of five spice is ice cream!