Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ancho Chocolate Pecan and Pomegranate Ice Creams

I should note that these are two seperate ice creams, both suggested by regular readers of this blog on a previous post.

I actually started with Jason's idea for dark chocolate, ancho chile and pecan ice cream. Odd though it may sound, I thought it might make a killer combination. I didn't know how Jason intended that combination to happen, so I decided to run with it and make an ancho chile ice cream base and stir in chopped pecans, followed by dark chocolate. I present the ingredients:

Ancho Chocholate Pecan Ice Cream

1 pint milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 whole, dried ancho chiles
5 1/4 oz/wt sugar
4 oz/wt cream cheese, softened
pinch salt
3 teaspoons tapioca starch
6 egg yolks
5 oz/wt toasted, chopped pecans
6 oz/wt melted semi-sweet chocolate

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan. Remove the stem from the chiles, and roughly cut largish pieces into the dairy. Don't worry about the seeds, they can go in there too if you like, or not if you don't like. Heat to at least 150F, but don't bring to a boil. Little bubbles breaking the surface is okay, but you might want to drop the heat just a tad. Allow to steep for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally with a rubber spatula to keep anything from spending too much time on the bottom and burning. Plunge the base of the pan in an ice water bath and stir occassionally until cooled. Move to a resealable container and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, strain the chiles out of the dairy. The color will likely have darkened to a light sienna. Add to a sauce pan with the rest of the ingredients, minutes the yolks, nuts and chocolate. Bring to a boil, whisking enough that nothing burns on the bottom. Drop the heat to low, temper in the egg yolks, and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. Plunge the base of the pan into ice water and whisk until cooled. Again, refrigerate overnight. The next day, churn in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer's instructions, and then stir in the pecans. Then carefully fold in the melted chocolate, maybe a third at a time, making sure not to overstir. Freeze overnight and enjoy.

This ice cream messes with your head. Most people only consider chiles to be a savory ingredient, so the concept of putting them in ice cream seems counter-intuitive. Let's not forget that chiles are berries, and just as Mexicans have been using chocolate as a savory ingredient for centuries, it's entirely possible for chiles to be used as a sweet ingredient. This ended up a smooth and rich ice cream that causes you to take a moment to comtemplate it and get over the weirdness of it actually tasting good. While you're busy contemplating, it comes back and kicks you in the mouth, just as you're least expecting it. Maybe the heat at the end was because I added all of the seeds with the rest of the chiles, so play with it. Your mileage may vary.

Notes: since this ice cream didn't have nut butter in it like my previous ice cream, I decided to increase the starch to compensate. I wasn't sure if cashew butter was adding significant thickening power in the last one, but I decided not to take any chances. Also, you might note the difference in chocolate addition. This method will cause the chocolate to seize as soon as it hits the cold ice cream, but also become brittle, making for smaller pieces in the end result. In the last ice cream, I specifically wanted larger pieces.

On the same day that I cooked the ancho ice cream base, I decided to also create a pomegranate ice cream base, thanks to Art's suggestion. She had mentioned such a flavor to me in the past, and I wanted to see if I could pull it off. The ingredients:

Pomegranate Ice Cream

1 pint pomegranate juice
1 cup heavy cream
5 1/4 oz/wt sugar
4 oz/wt cream cheese, softened
pinch salt
3 teaspoons tapioca starch
6 egg yolks

You know the drill. Combine all ingredients except eggs in a saucepan, bring to a boil, temper in the eggs, cook some more, cool, refrigerate overnight, churn, refrigerate overnight.

There was a decision that I should have made before this ice cream, that I failed to make because it has always been implied before. The question I should have asked was, does cream cheese match the rest of the flavors? When I initially tasted the pomegranate ice cream before the overnight rest, I thought that it did not. When I tasted it again before and after churning, I came to the same conclusion. When I had churned the ice cream and allowed it to harden overnight in the freezer, I came to a different conclusion. It actually tastes pretty good. It is, however, a bit rich, and not what I had intended. I would still use serve it as a quinelle in a plated dessert, but not much more than that. I should note that it reminded me of Creamies. It's an ice cream bar that I used to enjoy on hot days.

Notes: pomegranate juice must have some other sort of thickener in it, such as pectin. I'll have to do some research to see what the deal it. The overnight refrigeration resulted in a somewhat gelled and maybe even a little unappetizing-looking block of something that looked more like pink tofu than ice cream. It still churned properly, if a little softer than usual. The resulting ice cream was softer than usual, even after the overnight freeze, which served only to ease in scooping. It did not seem to melt any more quickly than any other ice cream, and it ended up being a big hit with those who tried it. It was a very interesting experiment indeed.

1 comment:

  1. You rock - I am going to have to round up the ingredients for this soon; I think I may vary mine by making chocolate part of the base as well as adding additional chocolate later on.

    I wish I could say my suggestion was 100% original, but it isn't (original ideas are increasingly hard to come by). The inspiration was your mention of using guajillo in ice cream - that reminded me of the ancho chili fudge pie at Z'Tejas which I absolutely adore (it has walnuts in addition to the pecans); I thought, "That would make some darn good ice cream," so I mentioned it. I always thought the pie could use more ancho than they put in it, so I am looking forward to making this ice cream - thanks for the recipe!

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