Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Having dazzled all and sundry with my gorgeous Cranberry & Port Sorbet, there was a bit of a problem. What to make next? It seemed that everyone had an opinion and to complicate the matter, I had about 4 different recipe books to be explored.

But, once we got past the tears and recriminations (it being Christmas after all), we had settled on something everyone could enjoy that was also festive - Cinnamon Ice Cream.

Next issue, how to make the custard base. It seems that every recipe book has at least 2 different recipes for the custard base - none of which agree with each other. The problem, I think, stems from the fact that different people like different things from their ice cream base. Some like it swet, some like it to be a blank palette upon which they can paint with the flavours of their ingredients. Another factor to consider is the consistency that you are looking for which will be dictated by the amount of dairy fat in your ingredients.

In other words, it's an art as well as a science.


In the end I threw caution to the wind and came up with my own recipe.


1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup single cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
cinnamon sticks

So, I put the milk into a small saucepan, brought it to the boil, then cut the heat and put the cinnamon sticks in to infuse as it cooled. Unfortunately, after much searching through our ridiculously huge amount of spices (and a few muttered imprecations about the perfidy of men), I managed to find some ancient cinnamon sticks. They were by no means at their best but were still within date. I used three 6 inch sticks but if you have some decent fresh sticks, 2 should be fine for this recipe.

While the milk was cooling and the cinnamon infusing, I whipped the eggs and sugar until thick and foamy (the colour will change to a pale creamy yellow).

At thispoint, most recipe books say to bring the milk back up to a boil, then add slowly to the egss, whipping all the way. I think that this is a fine way to make scrambled eggs but not so hot for ice cream.

Instead, I removed the cinnamon sticks from the milk, then slowly added the room temp milk to the egg mixture, whipping constantly. Then I added my cream and gave it another whip.

THEN I returned my mix to the pan and heated it over a low flame, stirring constantly. As it reaches the boiling point the custard will thicken so it will coat the back of a wooden spoon. Then take it off the heat.

Pour the mix into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge to cool, then into the ice cream machine.

One surprising thing about this recipe is that it looks just like regular old vanilla ice cream. I can only surmise that commercially available cinnamon ice creams that have flecks in them or are a pale brown are created using either ground cinnamon or food colourings.

Anyway, this recipe creates an incredibly refined and sophisticated ice cream. The only drawback is that this recipe serves 4 genteel guests or 2 gannets. In other words, you may be wise to double the quantities.

Cranberry & Port Sorbet

For Christmas this year I got a beeeauuutiful ice cream machine, the Magimix Gelato Chef 2200 which is awesome as it removes a huge amount of the tedium involved in making tasty frozen treats.

So, as it was Christmas morning, I went straight to work preparing a few festive delights and the very first thing I experimented with was making something fairly safe - a Cranberry & Port sorbet. This is straightforward but one must always keep in mind that when working with alcohol it will have a direct effect on how long it takes for your recipe to freeze.

Right then, ingredients:

9 0z. fresh cranberries
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
5 Tbsp ruby port

OK kids, it really doesn't get much easier than this:

Dump the cranberries and the water in a small sauce pan, bring to the boil, then simmer untill the berries are soft.

Blend the resulting mixture (careful here or you may have a hell of a cleanup job!)

Push the resulting slurry through a fine sieve (nylon if you have one) into a bowl.

Add sugar and port, then stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Pop the bowl into the fridge to cool down for a few hours (at least 2). You can, of course, accelerate this process by seating the bowl within a larger container of ice, but be careful that the melting ice doesn't cause the inner bowl to sink and slop water in!

I then poured the mix into my my new toy, turned it on, and about 30 minutes later had a wonderfully refreshing sorbet. It's not sweet. The sugar is just enough to take the edge off of the bitterness of the cranberries and it made a marvelous palate cleanser.

If you are not blessed with a shit hot ice cream maker, you can still follow this recipe but will have to do all the freezing and churning manually.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New York Cheesecake

I don't use a graham cracker crust in my cheesecakes. I used to live around the corner from the Turf Cheesecake shop, they didn't use the crust and I prefer it that way. You can add one to the baking pan before adding the filling, if you insist.

2-1/2 pounds PHILADELPHIA brand cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
6 large eggs
optional 3 tablespoons plain flour

Mixer - You really need to use a stand mixer for this - preferably a kitchen-aid type. Needs must, a hand held will do. But you can't make this with a wisk and spoon. Unless you're crazy.
10 in. springform pan
Pre-heat oven to 500 F (yes, really! If your oven doesn't go this high, then the top temp available and you'll have to cross your fingers)

Assemble all ingredients.
Butter bottom and sides of the springform pan. (I prefer unsalted butter)

Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and place the pieces into work bowl of a standing mixer. Beat the cheese on low until smooth, about two or three minutes. It may be easier to beat half the cream cheese first, followed by the second half. Once the cheese is smooth, add the salt and about a third of the sugar. Beat until integrated and scrape down the sides. Add another third of the sugar and continue to mix until the sugar is mixed in. Then add the final third of sugar and mix in. Optionally, three tablespoons of flour can be added with the sugar to help add a bit of stability to the cake. Adding flour will not affect the taste or texture of the cake, but will reduce the likelihood of a cracked cake. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix.

Scrape the sides down and add the heavy cream. The cheese should be much easier to work with at this point.

Add the egg yolks and mix until they are blended in.

Add Image
Now add three whole eggs and mix until the eggs have been completely mixed into the filling. Scrape down the sides and beat in the final three eggs. Now, pour the filling into the springform pan. A 10-inch pan should fill up to almost its rim with this filling. Lift the pan an inch or two above your counter or cutting board and drop it to bring any bubbles trapped inside to the surface. Place the springform pan onto a sheetpan (for easy handling and safety), and slide into the middle of an oven preheated to 500°F.

After ten minutes, reduce the temperature to 200°F and allow the cheesecake to bake as the oven gradually reduces temperature (do not open the oven door). Bake the cheesecake until the center of the cake registers as 150°F (making sure it does not exceed 160°F), about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Feel free to use an instant read thermometer in the center of the cake - a slightly blemish is worth a perfect cake. Note: When baking the example cheesecake, I kept the cake at 500°F for only five minutes (thinking that the convection oven would keep the temperature higher for longer). Notice that the edges of the cake had begun to brown, but the whole surface of the cake is still a light shade. This cake resulted in the texture and taste of a New York style cheesecake, but failed to achieve the look. Remember to keep baking at 500°F for the full ten minutes.

The cake will not fully set until fully chilled, but the cooling process should be gradual. First remove the cake from the oven and onto a cooling rack. After about ten minutes, run a paring knife along the rim of the cake to release it from the walls of the pan. This will reduce the risk of cracking as the cake contracts and tries to pull away from the walls of the pan.

After about two to three hours of cooling, wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and place the cake into the refrigerator to chill for at least five hours. remove the springform sides and serve.

If you must, you can serve this topped with a fruit sauce - I suggest keep it simple. Strawberries or blueberries briefly cooked with a bit of sugar and cornstarch. You can splash in some liquer to be fancy. Cool and spoon over the cake or spoon over individual serving slices of cake.

Kiwi Sorbet

After seeing Andrew's fabulously illustrated recipes, I vowed to myself that I, too would start photographing recipes step by step.
However, this recipe for Kiwi Sorbet is an old family favorite and I'm not making it at the moment, just sharing it. (I'll photograph the English dessert I'm making this afternoon and post it later.)

8 kiwis
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Step 1. Combine water and sugar. Heat in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Cool the syrup You can do this the night before or early in the morning, whatever is easiest for you. It is called a "simple syrup" and is used in many recipes - basically 1:1 sugar & water.

Step 2. Peel kiwis. Puree in a food processor.

Step 3. Add simple syrup and lemon juice to the processor. Give it a pulse or two to mix well.

At this stage you are ready to start the freezing process.
Option 1 - If you are one of those priviledged people with a ice cream machine:
Pour the mixture into ice cream maker and freeze 15 to 20 minutes.

If you are one of the Rest Of Us:
Option 2 - Pour into container, cover, and place mixture in the freezer.
When it is semi-solid, mash it up with a fork and refreeze again. (this may only take 2 hours depending on your freezer)
When almost frozen, place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Cover and refreeze until serving time.

NOTE: Can be prepared 2 to 3 days in advance. Cover and keep frozen.