chocolate, prune & whiskey ice cream

chocolate prune whiskey ice cream
chocolate prune whiskey ice cream
chocolate prune whiskey ice cream

This ice cream is all at once intensely deep and chocolatey all while not being too chocolatey at all. It’s a chocolate ice cream for those who don’t really love chocolate all that much. Which, okay, I know might just be me.

But stay with me for just a bit longer – it’s also a chocolate ice cream for those who like chocolate paired with other, complementary flavours! The dried fruit and whiskey lends it the muted acidity of a dark aged fruitcake, and that slight acidic undertone in combo with chocolate comes across as coffee. It’s complicated! And so very alcoholic, too.

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hopped orange & vanilla ice cream

hopped orange vanilla ice cream
hopped orange vanilla ice cream
hopped orange vanilla ice cream

In late summer and fall, leafy green flowers dangle from the vines of the hop plant. They look an awful lot like pinecones, and also a bit like floral armadillos. When crushed, they leave behind the scents of citrus and pine on your fingertips. I don’t know what sort of nature-channel-style I’m attempting to write in, but those lime-tinted armadillo pseudo-pinecones are (as you may have guessed) hops, the ingredient that gives IPA its bitter citrusy oomph.

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cherry, sage & st. germaine ice cream

cherry, sage and st. germaine ice cream
cherry, sage and st. germaine ice cream
cherry, sage and st. germaine ice cream

This flavour combination was a bit arbitrarily constructed, but once it was put together it seemed to actually make rather lovely sense.

A combination of custard and pureed cherries makes up the ice cream base. The woodiness of the sage gives it the nostalgic mustiness of withered plants, still lingering in discarded pots in late fall sun. Sweet and floral elderflower liqueur St. Germaine is like throwing lace doilies haphazardly on top – and curiously enough it all goes together so swimmingly such that it looks a bit more like an art installation in questionable taste than a trash can.

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peach, mint and gin ice cream (& alt food media)

peach, mint and gin ice cream
peach, mint and gin ice cream

peach, mint and gin ice cream

A couple of months ago, a slate of toxic workplace features came to light at Bon Appetit: people of colour, particularly Sohla El-Waylly, being pushed into unpaid video appearances for token “diversity,” unequal pay and support, and plenty of microaggressions. The Bon Appetit story is not exactly surprising – it falls in the tradition of white-led food media (ex. see Peter Meehan and Lucky Peach and the LA Times food section).

As I’ve been reading about these events, this passage from an article in the Atlantic stood out to me (emphasis added by me):

Regarding the industry’s whiteness, it might be tempting to dwell on questions of representation, or to wonder who ought to occupy the top positions at legacy publications. But as years of examples have shown, the work of challenging biases in food must dig deeper. After all, hiring a handful of people of color at these outlets doesn’t fundamentally alter the media landscape at large. Too often, such staffing shifts represent decisions made with optics in mind, which tends to mean that new voices are elevated but then not empowered, or that sufficient resources aren’t put toward substantive changes in coverage. Challenges to the dominant framework often come from outside legacy institutions altogether.

That and this quote from the infinitely quotable J Mase III:

In this time of COVID-19, Black Uprising and economic shift, a lot of white institutions that have been gaslighting Black folks for years will fail and fall into irrelevance. Let them.

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mango cardamom lemongrass ice cream

mango cardamom lemongrass ice creammango cardamom lemongrass ice cream

Growing up, mango was my favourite ice cream flavour, especially as it was an occasional treat at some restaurants. At home I would acquiesce to strawberry.

This mango ice cream is rather different from the one I used to love, infusing the base with cardamom and lemongrass. It’s not an intensely mango ice cream to avoid overwhelming the other flavours – rather it comes across creamy and fragrant, with a gentle layering of fruit for brightness.

Certainly different… though this ice cream does have the similarity of being my current favourite ice cream!

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kinako-dusted black sesame ice cream mochi

black sesame ice cream mochiblack sesame ice cream mochi

This is essentially a remix of one of my favourite cookies, but in a form that poses much less of a choking hazard (I jest – mostly). The cookie form is delicious, but definitely a bit dry (though I’ve worked on the recipe to ameliorate that, so I do think they are a very worthwhile cookie!). Here, however, the toastiness of the dry powdery kinako is allowed to shine even more because it’s balanced by the moisture of chewy mochi and ice cream.

The black sesame ice cream mochi is lovely on its own – the black sesame paste is wonderfully toasted and savoury – but kinako just adds toastiness over toastiness, and the whole thing is curious because it’s also ice cream which is cold – and now toasty? and so on and so forth.

It’s very fun.

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coffee amaretto semifreddo with stewed cherries

coffee amaretto semifreddo
coffee amaretto semifreddo
coffee amaretto semifreddo

The texture of semifreddo gets me every time. I always go into it expecting ice cream, but semifreddo assertively reminds me that it is something of its own. It has a gorgeously creamy-crystalline texture (think creamy taiwanese-style shaved ice, but smoother and airier), and, just for a breath, melts into a cloud-like foam on the tongue, before dissolving away.

This semifreddo, a coffee and amaretto version for the holidays, had me marvelling at the texture of semifreddo anew. The alcohol keeps it at a state of softness that makes it easy to slice and gently cut with the side of a fork right out of the freezer.

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beet gingerbread ice cream with pomegranate molasses

it’s feeling like the right time of year for gingerbread! this time a creamy and spice-heavy red beet gingerbread ice cream. the beet gives it this sort of brightness in flavour and of course a gorgeous colour

red beet gingerbread ice cream
red beet gingerbread ice cream
red beet gingerbread ice cream

This time around I just have to give it to the beets. They are doing some good work in this ice cream.

Abundant annual beet harvests and a lack of beet ideas soured my relationship with beets over the years. I broke back in high school when I brought the dinner leftovers, a large container of sliced boiled beets, for lunch – since that meal of pure beet, I’ve never been able to look beets in the eye in same trusting way as I used to.

And so in baking with an abundance of beets, I started to wonder how I could mask their flavour. Unfortunately for that quest, beets are pretty resilient. But I’ve realized that rather than trying to cover up the beet, beet-baking can instead focus on flavour combinations that attenuate the intensity of their beetiness, while still highlighting them in different ways. Of course, those sorts of statements never really make much sense without an illustrative example. Enter the red beet gingerbread ice cream.

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peach & lavender crumb ice cream

roasted peach and lavender-infused ice cream strewn through with chunks of whole wheat lavender shortbread and roasted peach

roasted peach lavender chamomile ice creamroasted peach lavender chamomile ice creamroasted peach lavender chamomile ice cream

Going on trips to the west coast, summer became a season of lavender and specifically lavender shortbread.

In the warmer climes of the west coast, we would marvel over how herbs grew bountifully into literal shrubs and bushes, established sizes which I suspect truly fulfilled their promise as perennials that wake up again with each growing cycle. Lavender was sort of a mythical herb to us; the plants we grew would rarely ever flower. But! Basking in the humid warmth of the sun – and er, brake lights – lavender flourished even in the little concrete medians of the grocery store parking lot. I still have a bit of dried lavender left from the parking lot, several years old now, but still fragrant.

My lavender-flavoured go-to was shortbread, though often the texture lay closer to crackers as I would toss together guessed proportions of butter and flour (without the experience for those guessed proportions to be even marginally correct) and then require some added milk to bring the dough together. While occasionally I would use lavender flowers, I most often made it with the leaves, enabling myself to make use of the small flowerless plants we grew in our garden. I find it still imparts much of the same flavour – perhaps its moreso the lavender that I know in fact – and given the leeway to use more, often a stronger flavour as well.

When considering a lavender ice cream, the thought of shortbread came to mind as it often does with lavender – and I surprised myself about how much the taste of the shortbread I made reminded me of past summers and the grocery store parking lot.

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