Hoo-boy, are we gonna get crazy this summer. As the temperature goes up, it’s time to get down with some wild flavors of ice cream.
We’ve gone way beyond strawberry and vanilla. We’re talking cilantro-lime, green tea-cardamom and icy plum infused with star anise.
Frozen ice creams and sorbets infused with herbs and spices are hot in restaurants.
For more than a decade, top chefs have been piquing palates with frozen flavor combinations such as grapefruittarragon and cucumber-dill, and using them as both desserts and as refreshing elements between courses.
But before you decide that it is not for you, try to tap into the trend with an unusual flavor desserts. The reason you should even bother is that some of these flavors are spectacular.
As an introduction to wild and crazy ice cream, we’re offering recipes for a limecilantro sorbet along with plum and star anise sorbet and spiced tea ice cream.
The cilantro-lime sorbet is addictive. So is the plum sorbet with its warm undertone of spicy star anise, a Chinese spice that is sold whole – they resemble little wooden stars – in Asian food stores. The recipe I developed couldn’t be simpler.
Just puree canned plums in their syrup, heat with the star anise, and process the mixture in an ice cream freezer.
The green tea ice cream, a staple in Chinese and Japanese restaurants, is easy to make at home, too. You’ll need to visit an Asian store for Japanese green tea powder. It’s a strong instant version of green tea used by the Japanese to make both hot and iced tea. I steeped it with cream, milk, cardamom and a bay leaf for a more complex, mellower flavor than most of the green tea ice cream served in restaurants.
Now for pennies instead of big bucks, you can end a meal with a glamorous dessert like the ones served in fancy restaurants. The no-mess ice cream machines on the market make it easy to offer homemade ice creams and sorbets.
Just about any liquid can be churned into a decent sorbet or ice cream, although if you plan to store the ice cream in your freezer overnight you need a certain proportion of liquid to sugar, and plenty of churn time, or your dessert will freeze into an unyielding block of ice. Our recipes avoid that problem. Sorbets and ice cream made from the following recipes can be stored overnight, even though – as with any frozen dessert – they taste best the day they are made.
LIME-CILANTRO SORBET (1) Makes about 2½ cups ✔ ½ cup milk ✔ ½ cup water ✔ 1 cup sugar ✔ ½ cup cilantro leaves ✔ ½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (or lemon) ✔ Pinch of salt Combine milk, ½ cup water, sugar and cilantro in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Continue heating until mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Puree in a food processor or blender with lime juice and salt.
Chill until very cold. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
PLUM AND STAR ANISE SORBET (2) Makes about 1 liter ✔ 2 cans (500 ml. each) whole purple plums in extra heavy syrup ✔ 4 whole stars of anise Place plums with syrup in the bowl of a food processor or blender, making sure all pits have been removed from the plums. Puree until very smooth. Transfer to a saucepan, add star anise and bring to a boil. Immediately cover, remove from heat and let steep for 20 to 30 minutes, until mixture takes on as much star anise flavor as desired (taste after 20 minutes to gauge the flavor).
Remove and discard star anise. Refrigerate the mixture until very cold.
Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
SPICED GREEN TEA ICE CREAM (3) Makes about 1½ liters ✔ 3 cups cream ✔ 1 cup milk ✔ 2 Tbsp. Japanese green tea powder ✔ 1 bay leaf ✔ 4 green cardamom seeds ✔ 4 egg yolks ✔ 3⁄4 cup sugar ✔ 1 tsp. vanilla Combine cream and milk in a saucepan.
Whisk in green tea powder. Add bay leaf and cardamom seeds and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and cardamom seeds.
Whisk about ½ cup mixture into the egg yolks, beating rapidly to prevent yolks from cooking. Slowly beat yolk mixture into remaining cream mixture in saucepan. Whisk in sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture thickens slightly and reaches 70° on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in vanilla.
Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.(Knight Ridder Newspapers/MCT)