Monday, April 16, 2007

Amano, Caramel and Cashew Butter Ice Cream

I'm pretty excited about this ice cream. I was excited when I came up with the idea, but when I had my first taste of the ice cream base, I got really happy. For those of you who don't know (and there seems to be surprisingly many of you), cashew butter is the cashew version of peanut butter. There is no dairy involved here. Just creamy, nutty goodness.

You may remember a previous post where I had the idea to use cashew butter in an ice cream base. It just sounded good. Then somebody suggested my favorite form of caramel, dulce de leche. It's a Latin American specialty that typically involves simmering milk and sugar together for hours on end, reducing it down to a sweet, creamy, thick sauce with a deep flavor. When I tasted Amano's Ocumare chocolate, I knew I had a winning combination. You will need the following ingredients:

1 pint milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 1/4 oz/wt sugar
5 oz/wt unsalted cashew butter
4 oz/wt cream cheese, softened
pinch salt
2 teaspoons tapioca starch
6 egg yolks
125 grams dulce de leche
4 oz/wt (2 bars) Amano Ocumare chocolate

Sorry for the gram measurement on the dulce de leche. The stuff I bought was imported, and since the rest of the world has moved past us into metric, it was in grams. I used half of a 250g container.

Add the milk, cream, sugar, cashew butter, cream cheese, salt and tapioca starch to a saucepan and heat to medium. Whisk occassionally just to keep things moving, and simmer until it starts to thicken. Temper in the egg yolks, cook for a few more minutes, and then plunge the pan into an ice water bath and whisk slowly until it is cooled. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, freeze in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer's instructions. While it's freezing, go ahead and roughly chop the chocolate into chocolate chip-sized pieces. You may also want to warm up your dulce de leche in a hot water bath or in the microwave, to loosen it up a bit. Warm is okay, hot is bad. Move the dulce de leche to a plastic zip-top bag.

When the ice cream is finished churning, go ahead and stir in the chocolate chunks. Cut the tip off the end of the plastic bag and pipe a few thick lines of dulce de leche onto the ice cream. Gently fold, and continue to pipe all 125g onto the ice cream. Be careful not to stir or fold too much, because you want swirls of caramel, not a completely homogenized mixture. Move to your freezer overnight.

My wife and I each made sure to taste a spoonful of ice cream before the big chill, and we were blown away. This stuff is amazing! It almost makes me wish I had a cheesy Ben & Jerry's type of name for it, it's so good! The cashew and caramel flavor blended perfectly together, with the chocolate cutting through it, but not harshly. I think Amano's Madagascar might have been too much for this ice cream, but the Ocumare was perfect. But be careful when you make this stuff. If you tell too many friends and neighbors, you may be making it for the rest of your life for them.

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