Thursday, June 29, 2006

Adventures in Ice Cream Making - Lycheelicious!

It's ice cream experimenting season again! Just tried some of my first batch of lychee ice cream, and it's good! I made it in my hand-crank Donvier machine that I liberated from the basement of my parents' house where the poor appliance was banished to shortly after I gave it to them years ago as a gift. Be free, little ice cream maker! In the tradition of Ben and Jerry, I need a more fanciful name than "Lychee Ice Cream." So far, I've got "Lycheelicious!"

Being an ice cream flavour developer is another one of those jobs I fantasize about, like being a restaurant reviewer. Don't get me wrong - I'm loving my actual job right now, and feel like I'm living a bit of a fantasy job myself, and know that a lot of people would envy me. But tasting ice cream all day? How cool is that? This one Daily Planet television story that I saw years ago about a Ben and Jerry Developer/Taster really had an impact on me. So, I finally got around to trying to make a lychee ice cream, after having been inspired months ago by having some at Yuji's Japanese Tapas. I didn't want a sorbet, though I'm sure an icy lychee sorbet would be wonderfully refreshing. I wanted to make a thick, rich, heavy cream concoction, and I was inspired by this Martin Yan recipe that I found on the internet. I modified the recipe to my preferences, and thought I would share this with you. First of all, I wasn't after an ice cream with chunks of lychee in it. Also, based on my success with rum raisin last year, where I learned that straining the custardy milky mixture with a fine mesh sieve is important because it removes the little solid eggy bits (probably from the chalazae, the proteinaceous strands that hold the yolk in place in an egg), I decided to strain the whole mixture. This wound up being a very useful step, as I noticed a lot of brownish fibers from the lychee puree were also strained out. Finally, I added a splash of Soho Lychee Liqueur because I had it around, and I figured it would add flavour, as well as adding some alcohol content which helps ice cream from freezing too hard. Also, I've started the experimenting with canned lychees, to see how it would turn out, but they're actually in season now, so the next step is to use fresh ones. I'm not sure that this is entirely necessary though, because I did get fairly good flavour with the canned, and it's almost a shame to mush up a pile of beautiful fresh lychees, instead of eating them whole. It would likely result in a brighter flavoured ice cream though. Here's the recipe the way I did it today:

Lycheelicious! Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1½ cups canned seedless lychees, drained & pureed in a blender (one 530 ml can)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Splash of Lychee Liqueur to taste (optional)

1. Combine the cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan or double boiler; heat until warm and the sugar is completely dissolved. Add 1 cup of the cream mixture to the yolks while whisking lightly. Gradually pour the egg mixture back into the cream mixture while continuing to whisk lightly.

2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the back of your spoon is thinly coated, about 8 minutes. Do not allow to boil or the ice cream custard mixture will curdle.

3. Puree the lychees well in a blender, add the lemon juice.

4. Combine the lychee mixture to the custard mixture. Add a splash of Soho Lychee Liqueur to taste. I probably added two tablespoons.

5. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to chill in the fridge. You can chill overnight, or if you're impatient like me, create a ice bath in a larger bowl for the small bowl to sit in, and place the whole thing in the fridge until cool, or for as long as you can wait.

4. Freeze in an electric or manual ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. My manual Donvier suggests 20 minutes of turning. Then transfer to an airtight container, and allow it to harden up in the freezer, probably at least an hour and a half.

Makes 4 servings (about 1 litre)

1 comment:

Dumpling-girl said...

Just a note that when I've made home made ice cream, the flavour tends to be really good as soon as it's frozen enough to eat, and diminishes over time so that in just 3 days later, it's remarkably different. In other words, don't bother rationing the stuff out. It's a good excuse to indulge.