Monday, May 26, 2014

Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwich! - Soft Agave Nectar Ginger Cookie & Cardamom Buddha Hand Citron Ice Cream








A gourmet ice cream sandwich with a classic lemon ginger flavor combination!

     Gourmet ice cream is nothing new, but there are still many ice cream flavors that have never been made by chefs or ice cream manufacturers.  All it takes is a little bit of imagination and a new ice cream flavor is borne.  There are plenty of exotic fruits in this world that have not found their way into ice cream recipes.  Buddha Hand Citron is one such fruit.  
     When most people think of a frozen dessert that is made with citrus fruit, they usually think of sorbet or sherbet.  Citrus fruit flavored ice cream is not really a farfetched idea.  Even though ice cream is much heavier than sorbet or sherbet, a flavor like lemon can make the ice cream feel relatively light and refreshing on the palate.  
     
     Buddha Hand Citron (Finger Citron or Bushukan) has a very fragrant lemon flavor, but this fruit is composed of over 95% bitter white pith.  Finger Citron is expensive and it sells for a high price at American specialty food markets, so only using the zest of this citron is not really practical.  The white pith of finger citron is edible and it is commonly used in recipes.  
     Finger Citron pith is not quite as bitter as regular citrus fruit pith, so controlling the bitter flavor is a little bit easier for a cook to do.  Unfortunately, the best way to neutralize a bitter flavor is to add a sweetener.  
     From a health standpoint, processed high fructose corn syrup is not a good sweetener option and refined sugar also has negative health consequences.  Agave nectar is a natural alternative, but it is nearly 100% fructose syrup.  Honey is a better alternative, but honey is not a neutral sweet flavor.  Most artificial sweeteners are nothing more than modified sugars or they are complex chemical compounds that may not be well suited for dessert making. 
     There really is no replacement for sugar in many recipes.  When a recipe requires a large amount of sugar, sometimes a natural sugar can be used instead of refined sugar.  Unrefined organic raw sugar usually has a light yellowish white color, because this sugar is not purified, or for a lack of better words, "bleached."  Organic raw sugar is a little bit easier on the body's blood sugar maintenance system and it contains more nutrients than refined granulated sugar.  Because today's Buddha Hand Citron Ice Cream recipe requires extra sugar to neutralize the bitter citron pith flavor, organic raw sugar may be a better choice than loading up on refined processed granulated sugar.  

     Ginger cookies and ginger snaps come in all shapes and sizes.  The texture and quality of most cookies depends on the sugar-butter creaming technique.  To make a cookie that has a refined texture, sugar has to be creamed with butter in a mixer, till the mixture becomes fluffy with a very pale whitish color.  After creaming, the rest of the ingredients are combined and the remaining steps are easy to do. 
     Every cookie dough has its own character when it is baked.  Some cookies remain tall and some flatten very thin.  Sugar is a liquifying agent, so it is not only the butter or fat in a cookie recipe that regulates how the cookie dough flattens when it is baked.  Corn syrup is traditionally used to modify cookie dough texture and to increase cookie dough settling when the dough is baked.  Agave nectar accomplishes the same thing.  Both of these syrups increase moisture and flexibility in cookies, because these substances do not harden.  Agave nectar is the better choice from a health standpoint, only because this nectar is naturally occurring.
      
     Today's ginger cookie recipe is designed to produce thin flat soft ginger cookies that can be used to make an ice cream sandwich.  The soft texture of these cookies will disappear after about 12 hours in an arid environment, so the ice cream sandwich has to be made shortly after the cookies are baked.  After the ice cream sandwich is made, it can be sealed with plastic wrap and frozen, then the cookie will remain moist.
     Two cookies that are the same size are required for making an ice cream sandwich.  Weighing equal amounts of dough on a scale is the best method of measuring cookie dough for this purpose.  The two portions of dough should be rolled in a ball shape, before placing them on a sheet pan.  This way it is easy to flatten the dough portions, so they flatten and spread evenly when baked.  
     No retaining mold or ring mold was used to make the two large cookies for the ice cream sandwich in the pictures above.  The cookies had a natural symmetric shape, because they were weighed and handled the same.  
     Most ice cream sandwich manufacturers make one gigantic sheet of baked thin cookie, then they use a mold to stamp out cookie shapes, while the dough is warm and moist.  If perfectly round cookies are desired for the ice cream sandwich, then a ring mold can be used to cut a round shape after the cookies come out of the oven, while they are still very soft.  A ring mold that has a ruffled edge is best for this purpose.   

     Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Machine:
     Breville Ice Cream Machines are about as good as an ice cream machine can be.  These machines are very heavy, because the compressor is huge.  Anything from slushies and sorbet to gelato and hard packed ice cream can be made with a Breville Ice Cream Machine.  These machines are housed in stainless steel and they are heavy duty enough for restaurant applications.   
      • All ice cream machines have their own maximum capacity.  The Breville Smart Scoop has a max capacity of 1 1/2 quarts.  A common mistake that home cooks make is to use the max capacity as the guideline for how much liquid ice cream mixture to add to the machine drum.  Aeration causes the liquid volume to expand and increase in size as the ice cream mixture gels and freezes.  For a Breville 600 machine, 3 1/2 cups of liquid ice cream mixture will increase in size and it will expand to nearly 1 1/2 quarts (almost 6 cups).  It is important to not exceed the 3 1/2 cup limit or there will be an out of control big mess to clean up!  

     Creme Anglaise:  
     Creme Anglaise is used to create a classic French style ice cream texture.  Creme Anglaise is not difficult to make.  After the egg yolks are combined, the temperature of creme anglaise should not exceed 140º or the sauce will break.  
     For some applications, vanilla and nutmeg can be omitted from this recipe.  For today's chat masala peach ice cream, vanilla and nutmeg are not necessary.  
     It is best to make the creme anglaise the day before making ice cream.  The creme anglaise must be chilled for 4 hours before it can be place in an ice cream machine.  Creme anglaise can be kept in a refrigerator for 7 days.  
     Yield:  This recipe yields about 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of creme anglaise!  The yield depends on the size of the egg yolks and the amount of sugar for the desired sweetness.  
     6 cups of creme anglaise is enough to make 2 to 2 1/2 batches of ice cream in a 3 1/2 cup max liquid capacity machine.  
     Keep in mind that the flavor addition, like a fruit puree, does have a volume of 1/2 cup to 1 cup per batch!
     Place 8 egg yolks (from large AA grade eggs) into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of cream.  
     Whisk the ingredients till blended.
     Set the mixture aside.
     Place 3 cups of cream in a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2/3 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 2 pinches of nutmeg.  (Optional.)
     Add 3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.  
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Bring the cream to a very gentle boiling point.  Stir occasionally.  Do not allow the cream to overheat and foam!  The cream should be about 145º to 155º.
     Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Return the entire creme anglaise mixture to the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Constantly slowly stir the creme anglaise with a whisk, as it heats and thickens to a thin sauce consistency.  Do not allow the creme anglaise to exceed 140º or the sauce will break!  The sauce should evenly coat the back of a spoon.  
     Pour the finished creme anglaise into a container.
     Chill the creme anglaise to room temperature within 2 hours.
     Chill the creme anglaise to less than 41º in less than 2 hours.
     Chill the creme anglaise for at least 4 hours before using it to make ice cream.   

     Cardamom Buddha's Hand Citron Puree Syrup: 
     The pith of Buddha's Hand Citron is sweet, fragrant and edible.  The thin lemon colored skin is also edible.  For this ice cream flavoring syrup recipe, not much of the pith is used because a lot of sugar has to be added to balance the bitter flavor.  
     The yield is not critical, but the yield should be between 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup!   
     Heat a stainless steel sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
     Boil till the water evaporates and the clear colored molten sugar starts to foam.  (This is when the sugar is just about at the soft ball stage.  235º to 245º)
     Immediately add 1/3 cup finely minced Buddha's Hand Citron rind with a small proportion of the pith.
     Allow the sugar to seize the fruit for a few seconds.
     Add 1 ounce of cognac or brandy.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the sauce becomes a medium thick syrup consistency.  The syrup should slowly pour off of a spoon.  
     Set the syrup aside and let it cool to room temperature.
     Taste to check the level of bitterness.  If the syrup has too strong of a bitter citron pith flavor, then add sugar or simple syrup to balance the bitter flavor.

     Cardamom Buddha's Hand Citron Ice Cream: 
     This recipe is written for a 6 cup capacity ice cream machine!  3 1/2 cups of the ice cream mixture will yield 6 cups of ice cream. 
     Place the Cardamom Buddha's Hand Citrus Puree Syrup in a large measuring cup.  The volume should be between 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup.
     Add enough Créme Anglaise to make a combined total measured volume of 3 1/2 cups.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Chill the mixture.
     Place the ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine drum.
     Set the machine to a hard packed ice cream setting.
     Turn the machine on and wait for the automatic timer bells to go off!
     Pack the ice cream into a container and place it in the freezer.

     Soft Agave Nectar Ginger Cookie Dough:
     This recipe yields enough dough for 3 ice cream sandwiches!   
     
     Sift these dry ingredients together and set the mixture aside:
     • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
     • 1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Dried Ginger
     • 1 pinch of Cinnamon
     • 1 pinch of Allspice
     • 1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt
     • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

     Use a mixer with a paddle attachment to cream these ingredients together, till the mixture becomes light, pale whitish yellow and fluffy:
     • 3 1/2 ounces Unsalted Butter
     • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
    
     Add and beat 1 1/2 tablespoons of Whisked Egg into the creamed mixture.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Agave Nectar while stirring.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Water while stirring.
     Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture while gently folding and stirring, till a stiff dough is formed.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes stiff enough for the butter to not melt when handled.  (About 20 minutes.)

     Shaping & Baking:
     Walnut size cookie dough balls will yield small thin ginger cookies.  
     Large plum size cookie dough balls will yield ice cream sandwich size thin cookies.
     Space the large cookie dough balls about 5" to 6" apart on a parchment paper lined baking pan.
     Gently and evenly flatten the large dough balls, so they are about 1/2" thick.
     Bake in a 350º oven till the cookies become a golden brown color.  (About 10 minutes, more or less.)
     Place the sheet pan on a cooling rack and let the cookies cool to room temperature.
     Seal the cookies in a container so they do not dry out.  

     Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches! - Soft Agave Nectar Ginger Cookie & Cardamom Buddha Hand Citron Ice Cream:
     Place a 3/4" to 1" thick layer of the Cardamom Buddha Hand Citron Ice Cream on the center of an upside down Soft Agave Nectar Ginger Cookie.  
     Place a second cookie on top.
     Gently press the sandwich, till the ice cream fill the sandwich to the edge of the cookies.
     Sprinkle some decorative cake sprinkles on the exposed ice cream.
     Serve immediately or tightly seal each ice cream sandwich in  plastic wrap before freezing.

     Sweet bitter lemony citron ice cream and soft sweet ginger cookie sandwiches are refreshing treats after a big backyard BBQ party.  This gourmet ice cream sandwich is the yum bomb!  

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