Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carrot Cake

Rating: ****
Nickname: "The Carrot and the Stick"

I made a couple batches of ice cream for my moving day last weekend, as an incentive for the lovely friends and family who helped out. One was chai, a known favorite, and the other was Cheryl's suggestion for carrot cake ice cream, for which we used this recipe from the LA Times. The only modifications we made were not soaking the currants in whiskey, and adding 1/2 cup of milk (since we were that much short on the sour cream).

The candied pecans were extremely tasty, and had the most effect on the overall flavor. The cream cheese, sour cream, and lemon in the base made it more reminiscent of cheesecake than carrot cake, but I don't mind that at all, since cheesecake is awesome. The carrots themselves didn't actually come through very much in the taste, strangely enough (even with 2 cups of them). We had grated them, rather than dicing, thinking smaller would be better for going into ice cream. But maybe having slightly larger chunks would have been better. Still, the ice cream as a whole is very good, and very interesting, since there's so much going on in it.

One thing to note about making ice cream with so much cream cheese and sour cream in it: the base is so thick that it doesn't churn very well on its own. (You can see how thick it is in this photo, before it's even frozen, when we're just trying to pour it.) It very quickly seizes up into a giant lump in the middle and then just sits there. But luckily, this recipe has a lot of add-ins, so we just added those sooner rather than later, and that loosened in up enough to churn properly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dragon Fruit

Rating: *****
Nickname: +20 Against Dragon Attacks

Cheryl and John were in Miami last week and brought back a lot of dragon fruit. I'd never seen it before, and it's neat stuff. Once you peel off the "scales," the inside looks like a hot pink kiwi, though the taste is sweet and not so acidic. I found an easy ice cream recipe for it at The Gourmet Mama, so Cheryl and I made a batch to take to our gaming group tonight.

We used 4 dragon fruits, but I think they may have been smaller than the Gourmet Mama's, since the ice cream didn't come out quite as intensely pink. (We didn't measure the actual amount once it was mashed, to compare for sure.) But it still tastes absolutely delicious. It makes me think of strawberries and cream, though that's probably because my brain doesn't really know the taste of dragon fruit well, so it latches on to the nearest approximation. The kiwi-like seeds give it little crunches, but in an enjoyable, unobtrusive way.

If you ever find yourself in possession of some dragon fruit, make this ice cream. It's awesome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Rating: *****

This flavor is from The Perfect Scoop, via Herbivoracious (where you can get the recipe). I used Bartlett pears from the Palo Alto Farmers Market, four of them instead of three, since they were pretty small. The "caramel" part comes in when you melt all the sugar and cook the chopped-up pear in it for a while, which is pretty fun.

I tend to think of pears as tasting good but not being particularly powerful, so this ice cream surprised me with how strong the flavor was. Very impressive. I also like how it retains some of the pear texture, even though there are no actual pear pieces left in it. (The "puree" setting on my blender got rid of all those, so I skipped the step in the recipe about pressing it all through a strainer.)

As a complement to the ice cream, I made plain oatmeal cookies -- no raisins, chocolate chips, or anything. That made an excellent pear-ing, if you'll excuse the pun (or even if you won't).