strawberry rhubarb baked alaska (& 8 years of tentimestea)

strawberry rhubarb baked alaska

Wait! Before summer is over! I’m a bit late, I know, but I still need to say something –

Well, actually… eight years of tentimestea… and it feels like I have less to say than ever!

But we’ll try anyhow. Around this time last year I was pondering what has stayed the same, but I suppose this year I found myself thinking more of what has changed.

Here’s one thing: my blog dwells happily in the comfortable depths of obscurity. But this year during rhubarb season, 99% of my traffic starting coming through pinterest for a single recipe. To be clear, minuscule traffic and hardly anything relative to what a popular blog would receive, but it was still a bit nerve-wracking! It was a recipe I was happy with and had tested a couple times. People on the internet that made it and told me about it were happy. Still, it did remind me that any recipe has the (slim) potential to be seen and made by others, and that there is a some responsibility that comes with that. I haven’t been trying to share nonsense recipes of course – but I will certainly never be doing that now.

Admittedly, up until the last couple of years, there were some old questionable recipes lying around. When I first started tentimestea – as a still-somewhat-teenager! that excuses everything, right? – it was to keep track of what I baked. That included disasters, which at the time were quite relishing to post given how terrible descriptions are much more exciting to write than good ones. I transitioned sharing more proper recipes years ago, but there were still those legacy recipes lying around. The posts remain, but the super old recipes I felt unsure about have been redacted to avoid anyone innocently coming across a recipe for disaster fully recorded in all its gory detail. (Well, you can still read the gory details, you just can’t replicate it!)

But all this talk of traffic and responsibility aside – first and foremost, the blog is still about having fun with baking – because that’s what has kept me around for eight years.

strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska

onto the recipe: baked alaska!

As is sort of-semi-tradition-esque-ish, I make an annual (out of season) rhubarb cake. This year it’s baked alaska, a suitably retro recipe for an aging blog like mine. I made mine with a strawberry rhubarb sorbet layered over a vanilla elderflower semifreddo, all seated on an almond cake base, covered in meringue and some roasted fruit.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this cake! It’s fruit and cream (and yes, some rather sweet meringue) all stacked together in a refreshing slice. The amount of work is makes for a decent project: multiple components, but none too tricky, and a relatively fuss-free assembly. You could also use this recipe as a template for whatever adaptations you want to make – another fruit sorbet, infuse some different flavours into the semifreddo, and so forth.

strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska

components:

  • strawberry rhubarb sorbet: This is probably my favourite component of the cake – I would definitely eat it on its own! Made from strained rhubarb juice and strawberry puree, it’s the refreshing fruity counterpoint in this dessert. Sorbet usually needs a certain amount of sugar for texture, but it’s not overly sweet given the tartness from the rhubarb. I also helped keep it soft and sliceable a little splash of elderflower liqueur (more on that below).
  • vanilla elderflower semifreddo: I knew I wanted to have a bit of alcohol in the cake if only to keep it a bit softer and sliceable. Even better if it’s part of the flavour profile! I used a slightly lemony elderflower liqueur, St. Germaine, to go along with the fruit and vanilla. You can certainly use whatever alcohol you prefer (or leave it out entirely for an alcohol free version – it will just be a bit harder and may need to sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften before slicing). Semifreddo is a foamy parfait made of whipped eggs and cream, making it a lot airier than ice cream and also a bit more manageable to eat when it comes to a generous slice. I also like using semifreddo as a component in layered frozen desserts as it doesn’t need to be churned; it can save a bit of time if you use a freezer canister which needs to be washed and refrozen for each churn.
  • almond financier base: I found that the texture of frozen financier is quite good – chewy and toothsome, but certainly still soft enough to bite – from this ice cream. Here it was recruited as the base for the cake.
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
  • meringue: I usually don’t care much for meringue, but I discovered it’s surprisingly suitable for frozen desserts! Not only do you get to dramatically toast it for contrast with the cold filling, but meringue doesn’t harden when frozen (unlike, say, whipped cream) and also helps to insulate the cake to prevent it from melting too quickly on the counter. While I used raw egg whites, there are alternatives for food safety to reduce salmonella risk. I’d suggest trying something like an Italian meringue, in which boiling sugar is whipped in beaten egg whites, or Swiss meringue, in which the eggs and sugar are heated together before whipping. These methods can be a bit trickier though, so depending on what you’re comfortable with, simply whipping egg whites and sugar together is easiest.
  • roasted strawberries and rhubarb: I sort of modeled the look of my baked alaska after a pavlova, and so to finish it off, a garnish of roasted strawberries and rhubarb.
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska
strawberry rhubarb baked alaska

a note on sizing…

I’ve described the bowl I used to make this in the recipe below (i.e. 900mL volume and 19cm top diameter) but this recipe can be amenable to whatever bowl you have on hand. If your bowl is bigger, the baked Alaska may just not fill the bowl the whole way. If your bowl is smaller, just layer in part of the sorbet and then part of the semifreddo. Put the remainders in separate containers and freeze to eat later. As necessary, trim the cake base so that it is the right size. Or, you can also multiply the recipe as needed if you want a larger baked Alaska.

To get an idea of how it might turn out, you can check the volume of the bowl you plan to use and compare it to what I used. The easiest way is to fill it with water and weigh how much it can contain (1g = 1mL). In this recipe I used a 900mL bowl with a top diameter approximately 19cm (7 1/2″). It may not sound that big, but it makes for quite the cake once it is covered in meringue. It can definitely serve eight or more very generously.

strawberry rhubarb baked alaska

strawberry rhubarb baked alaska

  • Servings: probably about 8
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Financier adapted from Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery, sorbet free-handed, semifreddo adapted from Stella Parks’s recipe, meringue adapted from classic ratios.

equipment: I made this in a bowl about 900mL in volume and with a top diameter of about 19cm/7 1/2″. But you can definitely use whatever size you happen to have on hand – please see the note on sizing in the blog post above. I also used a 8″ diameter cake tin to bake the cake base.

1. bake the financier base

  • 75g butter
  • 45g finely ground almonds
  • 30g all-purpose flour
  • generous 1/8 tsp salt
  • 60g granulated sugar
  • 75g egg whites
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter a 20cm/8″ diameter cake tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Place the butter in a small pan and heat until melted. Cook, stirring, until the butter solids brown and the butter is fragrant. Immediately transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool while you make the rest of the batter.

Stir together the almond flour, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the egg whites and vanilla, and mix until a thick batter is formed. Whisk in the browned butter. Spread the batter into the prepared pan in an even layer.

Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 350F. Bake about 10 minutes or until springy to touch or an inserted skewer is removed clean.

2. make the strawberry rhubarb sorbet as the first layer of the baked alaska

  • 350g chopped rhubarb
  • 150g fresh strawberry puree
  • 45g simple syrup (1:1 water and sugar)
  • 1 tbsp St. Germaine (or other elderflower liqueur to taste; elderflower cordial could be an alcohol-free alternative)

Place the chopped rhubarb in a small saucepan along with a spoonful of sugar and a splash of water (enough for 1-2cm on the bottom). Together, the sugar and water should help draw the juice out of the rhubarb. Cook over medium allowing the rhubarb to release enough juice to mostly cover the rhubarb pieces. Let simmer until the rhubarb is tender and cooked through. (If it’s looking a bit dry it helps to put the cover on while cooking to generate more liquid. The resulting rhubarb juice will be less concentrated, so it will just need to be boiled down more in the following step.)

Transfer the cooked rhubarb to a jelly bag set in a sieve over a bowl and allow the rhubarb juice to drain in the bowl. Once cooled, squeeze the bag to extract as much juice as possible. (Discard the fibrous contents in the jelly bag.) With the cover off, I got about 170g of juice, and cover on, about 260g of juice. Exactly how much you get out will depend on how much water already cooked off. To make whatever amount you get consistent, place the rhubarb juice back into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook down until it is reduced to about 120-130g.

Let the rhubarb juice cool. Stir in the strawberry puree, simple syrup, and St. Germaine. Adjust the simple syrup to taste. Chill completely.

When ready to churn, line a bowl with plastic wrap. Churn the sorbet in an ice cream maker, then spread into the bottom of the bowl and place in the freezer to freeze completely.

3. make the vanilla elderflower semifreddo and pour over the sorbet

  • 3 large eggs
  • 35g granulated sugar
  • 185g whipping cream
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or substitute 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste for both seeds and extract)
  • 2-3 tbsp St. Germaine (or other elderflower liqueur to taste; elderflower cordial could be an alcohol-free alternative)

Set a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water – or other double boiler set up. Whisk together the eggs and honey in the bowl. Mix continuously with a rubber spatula until the eggs appear syrupy and reach about 160-165F – though if you’re getting close to temperature (i.e. 155+) and you start noting any clumping, immediately remove from the heat and stop there. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until the bowl feels cool to the touch and the eggs have quadrupled in volume – and in the words of Stella Parks (original recipe) “thick enough to briefly mound up like soft-serve ice cream when dropped from the whisk.” This may take 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, whip up the cream with the vanilla seeds and extract. Whisk in the St. Germaine at the end (use more or less depending on your taste). Add half of the whipped cream to the eggs and whisk in until combined. Add the remaining cream, folding it in gently with a rubber spatula. Pour the semifreddo over the sorbet in the prepared bowl, leaving just enough room for the financier. You will have extra semifreddo if you use the same size bowl as me – put the leftovers in a container and freeze as a dessert for later.

Trim the financier base as necessary so it can fit into the bowl and place over the semifreddo. Return to the freezer and allow to freeze completely.

4. (optional) roast the fruit as an optional garnish, and chill until use

  • 50g chopped rhubarb
  • 50g chopped strawberries
  • 1 generous tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Combine the 50g each of chopped rhubarb and strawberries with a bit of sugar and transfer to the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, mixing partway through, until the fruit is tender. Chill completely until ready to use.

5. make the meringue and cover the baked alaska

  • 90g (3 large) egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 90g granulated sugar

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until frothy and sprinkle in a pinch of cream of tartar. Beat until the egg whites and foamy before gradually adding the sugar. The continue to whip on high speed until firm peaks are formed. (I find you get a smoother swoopier meringue if you stop at firm peaks rather than stiff. Peaky, yes, but still nice and soft.)

Take the bowl out of the freezer and turn out onto a tray or upside down-baking tin. Remove the plastic. Cover with meringue and then use the back of a spoon to draw meringue up the sides. Use the spoon to make a nest in the top to hold the roasted fruit.

At this point, you can either torch the meringue or do a quick bake in a very hot (500F) oven until the meringue is browned. If you’re not ready to serve right away, the cake can be put back in the freezer until ready. Top with roasted fruit just before serving.

for posterity – past tentimestea birthday rhubarb cakes

earl grey, raspberry & financier ice cream

earl grey raspberry & financier ice cream

Ice cream is the perfect receptacle for trying out different flavour combinations – an easily infusible base, plus ample room for mix-ins, both solid and swirly. Today’s ice cream is just about copying though… but with such a great combination of flavours (and making use of all the infusible and mixable components), I was a pretty happy copier!

earl grey raspberry & financier ice cream
earl grey raspberry & financier ice cream
earl grey raspberry & financier ice cream

This flavour combination is based off of a Made by Marcus ice cream (not one I’ve had the chance to try, but I hope to eventually!): earl grey-infused ice cream base, chunks of financier and a raspberry jam swirl. In typical Made by Marcus-brilliance, it is fantastic combination.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this ice cream to me was the financier. I wasn’t too sure how it would freeze and considered brushing the cake with sugar syrup or some rum to help keep it soft. However, it stayed soft and plush, with the chill giving it a bit of a toothsome chew.

earl grey raspberry & financier ice cream

earl grey, raspberry & financier ice cream

  • Servings: about 2 1/2 cups ice cream base
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Financier adapted from Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery. Fruit swirl adapted from Stella Parks.

ice cream base

  • 370g whole milk
  • 10g loose leaf earl grey tea
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • good pinch salt
  • 160g heavy cream

financier

  • 50g butter
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 20g all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 50g egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

raspberry swirl

  • 200g raspberries
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice, to taste

ice cream base

Combine the milk and tea and let cold infuse in the fridge for 24 hours. Pass through a sieve to remove the tea leaves and extract about 320g of infused milk.

Place the milk, egg yolks, sugar and salt together in a heatproof glass bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens and reaches 160-165F. Immediately transfer to a container and stir in the heavy cream. Let cool then chill completely.

financier

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line the bottom of a loaf tin with parchment and butter the sides.

Place the butter in a small pan and cook, stirring, until the solids are browned and fragrant. Immediately transfer to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool a bit while you prepare the rest of the batter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine until smooth. Fold in the butter in a few additions.

Scrape the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 375F. Bake for about 10 minutes or until just browned along the edges and a skewer inserted into the centre is removed clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

Cut into 1cm cubes and freeze.

raspberry swirl

Place the raspberries, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium to soften the berries and crush them with your spoon. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the raspberries are reduced and thickened – the weight should be about 160-170 when you take it off the heat.

Put the hot raspberry mixture into a sieve set over a bowl. Use a rubber spatula to vigorously press as much of the raspberries through as possible, leaving the seeds behind. It will take a bit of time and effort, but you should end up with about 100-110g of smooth raspberry sauce. Cover and place in the fridge to chill completely.

assembly

Churn the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. At the end add about 2/3 – 3/4 of the financier cubes (depending on how chunky you like it) and churn in. Spread half of the ice cream base into a pre-chilled loaf tin. Dollop half of the chilled raspberry sauce over top. Top with the remaining ice cream and then remaining raspberry sauce. Use a small offset spatula to swirl the ice cream a few times and scatter some more financier cubes over top. Freeze completely.

mango, honey & chrysanthemum semifreddo

mango honey chrysanthemum semifreddo

Thoughts with Ukraine: with displaced refugees, with those hiding in subway stations, with mothers in a makeshift bunker-turned-maternity ward, and with those who volunteer to defend their city, a fact which belies a deep acquaintance with instability, threat, and love for their country. The daily news coverage of atrocity, destruction and death still feels surreal to me, but is hardly surreal for Ukrainians in the midst of air raid sirens or the diaspora trying to reach loved ones.

And for everyone, a thousand uncertainties: what comes now that the uneasy status quo is broken – what can phase an authoritarian fixated on an empire and thus far unmoved – whether this is the tipping point or we have been heading there for a very long time now – what complicated history remains.

And what also emerged: a double standard in media coverage and global unity; take the euphemistic language in which Western reporters try to justify why this conflict is so different from others. If there was any question of what motivates this double standard, the answer in here in the egregious racist hostility facing African and South Asian students trying to escape Ukraine. These questions in no way diminish the horror of the Ukrainian invasion or the how vital a continued and escalated global response to the situation in Ukraine is – but it reminds us that there are and will be other situations which also warrant global outrage and a humanitarian response for all people.

But above all: it’s remembering the human cost and what will remain at the end of this or any other conflict. As of Friday, 331 civilians, 19 children, soldiers of both sides, and counting.

The Red Cross – Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal.

mango honey chrysanthemum semifreddo
mango honey chrysanthemum semifreddo

This semifreddo was inspired by Zoe Bake’s blood orange creamsicle semifreddo, made with a layer of sorbet over frozen mousse.

I actually first made this last year, an initial version flavoured with mango and cardamom, a classic combination that I love. But I do feel cardamom is probably a bit overdone on my blog. So I tried another combo, this time using honey and chrysanthemum (chamomile would also work, it’s just that I had chrysanthemum on hand) and I found I actually preferred the balance between tart bright mango orange sorbet and the soft and sweetly flavoured semifreddo below.

mango honey chrysanthemum semifreddo

mango, honey & chrysanthemum semifreddo

  • Servings: 1 loaf tin
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Inspired by Zoe Bake’s blood orange creamsicle semifreddo. Freehanded sorbet, semifreddo based on Stella Park’s recipe.

mango orange sorbet

  • 280g mango puree (from about 2 1/2 – 3 ataulfo mangos)
  • 60g strained fresh orange juice (from about 1 navel orange)
  • 30g simple syrup, or to taste (you can use sugar instead, but it will take some additional stirring to make sure its dissolved)
  • 1 tbsp grand marnier (optional, but helps keep it soft despite the lower sugar content)

honey chrysanthemum semifreddo

  • 220g heavy cream
  • 5g dried chrysanthemum (1/4 cup)
  • 3 1/2 (175g) large eggs
  • 35g honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

sorbet

Line a standard loaf tin with plastic wrap or parchment paper and place in the freezer to chill.

Stir together the mango puree, orange juice, simple syrup and grand marnier. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While still soft, spread into the bottom of the prepared loaf tin in an even layer. Return to the freezer and freeze completely before adding the semifreddo on top.

semifreddo

For the semifreddo, place the cream in a container along with the dried chrysanthemum. Stir together and place in the fridge for a cold infusion for at least 24 hours or up to a few days.

Set a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water – or other double boiler set up. Whisk together the eggs and honey in the bowl. Mix continuously with a rubber spatula until the eggs reach about 165F. The eggs will appear syrupy. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until the bowl feels cool to the touch and the eggs have quadrupled in volume – and in the words of Stella Parks (original recipe) “thick enough to briefly mound up like soft-serve ice cream when dropped from the whisk.” This may take 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, while the eggs are whipping, pass the cream through a sieve to remove the chrysanthemum and.put the infused cream into a bowl along with the vanilla bean paste. Whip until stiff.

Add half of the whipped cream to the eggs and whisk in until combined. Add the remaining cream, folding it in gently with a rubber spatula. Pour the semifreddo over the sorbet in the prepared loaf tin and return to the freezer to freeze completely.

To serve, prechill a serving board or platter in the freezer. Tip the semifreddo out of the tin and onto the prechilled serving plate. Peel off the plastic or parchment paper. Garnish if desired; I topped with some unsweetened greek yoghurt, mango slices and dried jasmine flowers – great the first day but gets very hard once frozen! The semifreddo should be pretty much ready to slice right out of the freezer, but if it’s quite hard let it set for a few minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

chestnut rum raisin ice cream

chestnut rum raisin ice cream
chestnut rum raisin ice cream
chestnut rum raisin ice cream

Rum raisin ice cream should be something that I adore (rum + cream + dried fruit + grandpa vibes) but I’ve always had a less than stellar impression of it. Probably because I’d only ever tried a supermarket version of it once: super sweet, slightly freezer-burned. and rum-flavoured as opposed to actual rum. Homemade rum raisin, on the other hand, is properly alcoholic, and all that I imagined it to be and more!

(Maybe I would have liked the supermarket one too if it wasn’t too freezer-burned…)

chestnut rum raisin ice cream
chestnut rum raisin ice cream

For this take on a rum raisin ice cream, I made an ice cream base thick with pureed chestnuts – it only adds to the coziness and goes well with the rum. Just before churning, stir in rum-plumped raisins and any excess rum. Soaking the raisins in rum not only rehydrates any particularly desiccated ones, but also offsets the sweetness and keeps them soft and chewy even when frozen. And finally, thanks to the alcohol content of the ice cream base, it stays semi-scoopable even when made with lower sugar content.

chestnut rum raisin ice cream

chestnut rum raisin ice cream

  • Servings: about 3 cups ice cream base
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Adapted from Saveur’s rum raisin ice cream.

  • 75g (1/2 cup) raisins
  • 105g (1/2 cup) dark rum
  • 300g (1 1/4 cup) whole milk
  • 5cm length of vanilla bean
  • 150g (1 cup) peeled roasted chestnuts
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 25g granulated sugar (or use 50-70g for a more standard sweetness)
  • 240g (1 cup) heavy cream

Combine the raisins and dark rum in a small jar or covered dish and set aside overnight or up to a couple days.

Place the milk in a medium-small saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds, adding both the seeds and pod to the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally and add the chestnuts. Partially cover and allow to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender. Remove from the heat.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the chestnuts and set aside. Discard the vanilla pod.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Return the milk to the stovetop and heat until it begins to steam. Slowly pour into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to temper them. Return the custard to the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Cook until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line drawn in it, or the temperature reaches 160-180F.

Remove from the heat and add the chestnuts. If you have an immersion blender, transfer to a tall glass measuring cup or the cup that comes with the blender and puree until smooth. Otherwise, transfer the mixture to the bowl or a stand blender or food processor and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. The mixture will appear thick and silky. Chill completely.

When ready to make the ice cream, stir in the cold heavy cream, the rum-soaked raisins, and all the excess rum. Transfer the ice cream base to an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: I don’t personally recommend it, but if you prefer the alcohol cooked off: put the raisins and rum in a microwave proof container, cover with plastic leaving a small gap for steam to escape, and microwave for about 1 minute or until it is bubbling.

houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons

houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons

This ice cream has been a work in progress for a few years so I am glad to finally post it! I had initially envisioned it as a persimmon houjicha ice cream with hachiya persimmon pureed into the ice cream base. In try #1, I had let the ice cream base sit for a couple days before churning and it took on a the fermented flavour of very over-ripened persimmon. A year later, when persimmon season returned, a second try did not taste much better, even when churning the ice cream right away – though in part it might be because I am a bit oversensitive to the taste of overripe fruit. To avoid any over-ripeness issue, once persimmon season swung around once more the following year, I tried roasting fuyu persimmons (which do not need to be fully ripened to eat) and then pureed that. The roasting merely dried out and toughen the persimmons, which yielded a “puree” of coarsely chopped fibres that could have been a particularly orange hairball. I couldn’t bear to put that in the ice cream (ate it over oatmeal instead) so I tried churning the houjicha base on its own – and loved it.

I still wanted the persimmons in there somehow though, so I also prepared some caramelized fuyu persimmon slices to go alongside. It’s a wonderfully mellow and autumnal combination. Sometimes I guess it doesn’t all need to be crammed into the ice cream itself!

houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons

This ice cream base is made with a long and slow cold infusion using looseleaf houjicha (roasted green tea). I’ve been really tending towards the long cold infusions lately as a way to get lots of flavour. While sometimes tea can get a bit bitter, the roasting of the houjicha helps it remain mellow despite a long infusion – strong flavour without the bitterness – and goes it so well with a milky ice cream base!

That and warm caramelized persimmons spooned overtop… sometimes it’s not too bad when your initial plans go awry.

houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons
houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons

houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons

  • Servings: 2 cups ice cream base
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houjicha ice cream

  • 280g heavy cream
  • 5g loose leaf houjicha
  • 240g milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar, or to taste

caramelized persimmons

  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced
  • butter
  • salt

houjicha ice cream

Combine the cream and houjicha in a container. Cover and let steep for 48 hours in the fridge. Press through a sieve to extract the cream. 

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Place the milk in a saucepan and heat until steaming. Slowly pour the hot milk into the yolks while whisking constantly to temper, then return the milk mixture to the saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the temperature reaches 160-180F or the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line drawn in it. Immediately transfer to a bowl or container. 

Stir in the infused cream (and taste for sweetness – add more sugar if desired!) and chill the ice cream base completely. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

caramelized persimmons

This makes enough for about 4 servings. Scale up or down depending on how much ice cream and many people you’re serving. 

Begin by making a caramel syrup. Place the sugar in a small saucepan and add enough water to dissolve the sugar. Bring the water to a boil until the sugar is dissolved (if you stir, make sure you swirl the pan to pick up and dissolve any granules of sugar along the sides!), and then continue to boil until the sugar syrup caramelizes, reaching a deep amber colour. Whisk in the 2 tbsp of water. Be careful while adding the water as the caramel may sputter a bit. If parts of the caramel harden, return to the heat, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool until needed.

Melt 1 tsp of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced persimmons and saute until softened. Spoon in 2-3 tbsp of the caramel syrup and stir until the persimmon slices are coated in syrup and it has formed a smooth sauce.

Take the ice cream out from the freezer about 10-15 minutes before serving. Scoop and serve with the caramelized persimmons.  

houjicha ice cream with caramelized persimmons

cherry mint stracciatella

cherry mint stracciatella

The ice cream has a mint-infused roasted cherry base ribboned throughout with snappy veins of chocolate. It makes a wonderfully fruity mint ice cream with a chocolate flavour that doesn’t overwhelm.

cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella
cherry mint stracciatella

I first thought of this ice cream as a cherry mint chocolate chip. My mum, however, isn’t a fan of how hard frozen chocolate chips get, so I decided to use a stracciatella-type technique. Stracciatella is a term which applies to both gelato and egg-ribboned soup; on the gelato side it is usually done by drizzling melted chocolate into a gelato base while it churns. The chocolate freezes upon contact with the ice cream, forming small shards which snap and melt in the mouth. To enhance the meltiness, I took inspiration from Stella Parks’s recipe in which she stirs in some coconut oil to lower the melting point (here I used a smaller quantity of canola oil, given its even lower melting temperature).

If you have a manual ice cream maker like me, drizzle in a bit of chocolate, then replace the lid and give the base a few churns. Repeat several times until the chocolate is done. I found I didn’t need too much chocolate (though of course you can add more if you prefer) so it goes quite quickly despite the extra steps.

(In the pictures I’m pouring David Lebovitz’s chocolate sauce made with a good pinch of salt.)

cherry mint stracciatella

cherry mint chocolate ice cream

  • Servings: about 2 cups ice cream base
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Some techniques taken from Stella Park’s cherry ice cream and stracciatella

  • 400g cherries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 250g heavy cream
  • 4g (1/4 cup gently packed) fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 100g whole milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30-60g dark chocolate
  • 3-6g neutral oil

Begin by roasting the cherries. Preheat the oven to 400F. Use a baking casserole or line a small baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the cherries and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar. Bake, stirring every so often, for about 45 minutes or until the cherries are cooked and have started to wrinkle a bit. Do turn down the heat if anything begins to burn. 

Once the cherries have cooled, pop out the pits and reserve. Grind up the roasted cherry flesh using either an immersion blender or a food processor.

Then infuse the cream. Warm the cream until it is steaming. Stir in the reserved cherry pits and mint leaves. Cover and let cool, then transfer to the fridge to infuse overnight. The next day strain the cream to remove the mint and cherry pits.

Prepare the custard. Whisk together the milk, egg yolk and remaining 1 tbsp of sugar in a glass bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir constantly until it thickens or reaches about 160F. Transfer to a container, cover and chill completely.

Combine everything together. Stir the roasted cherry puree into the cream, then whisk in the custard. At this point to make it a bit smoother you can use an immersion blender or transfer the base to a blender/food processor. 

Churn the ice cream. Melt the chocolate and stir in the oil. Once the ice cream has become thick, but still soft enough to churn, drizzle in the chocolate. You can either drizzle it in continuously while the ice cream stirs. As my ice cream maker needs the lid on to stabilize the paddles, I drizzled in just a spoonful of the melted chocolate at a time, closed it up, gave it a few turns, then repeated it again until all the chocolate was used. 

roasted strawberry star anise ice cream with black sesame caramel swirl

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

This ice cream is another quasi-take on PB&J: an ice cream base infused with star anise and roasted strawberry puree, and swirled through with a black sesame caramel.

Roasting fruit and then pureeing it into ice cream base has become one of my favourite ways of incorporating fruit into ice cream (I have another couple recipe drafts using this technique with apricots and cherries!). It’s a technique I borrowed from Stella Park’s cherry ice cream, where roasting reduces down the fruit and makes up a significant portion of the base. Though, unlike the original recipe, I like to put in full puree instead of straining in because that way I don’t need quite as much fruit and there’s no chance of waste!

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

Some reasons to love roasting fruit for ice cream: Firstly, it reduces the water content of the fruit, preventing the ice cream base from becoming crystalline. Second, it also makes for a thicker ice cream base which better holds air from churning and fluff up more (this is only a concern when you churn your ice cream by hand). Finally, I think the concentrated fruit mixture also helps keep the ice cream a bit softer at freezer temperature – though whether that’s due to the first two reasons or something about fibre content, I’m not sure!

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream
strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

This ice cream has gone through a few renditions to get here. The first time I made this ice cream, I tried to use swirl straight black sesame paste into the ice cream. But I found that frozen black sesame paste has a pretty terrible texture for ice cream swirling – it stiffened immediately upon contact with the ice cream and spotted the ice cream with grey fragments.

It was later when I was photographing an ice cream with a caramel sauce that I noticed the caramel kept a wonderful, soft, swirly texture even when frozen (yay sugar!). So in my second try, I made a caramel to act as a vehicle for the black sesame paste. Diluting the paste in caramel also let me add plenty of swirls while keeping the black sesame flavour from overwhelming the ice cream base. But I found that the ice cream was a bit too rich and cloying as the roasted strawberries had lost their brightness.

So for the third attempt, I reduced the proportion of cream a bit and added plenty of lemon juice to brighten the strawberry puree – while the roasted strawberries do taste different from fresh, the acidity keeps the ice cream a bit brighter, all the better to contrast against the sweet, salty and nutty black caramel. Finally, if you’re no so into the black sesame, I also quite like the roasted strawberry and star anise ice cream base on it’s own, so skip the caramel if prefer!

strawberry, star anise and black sesame caramel ice cream

strawberry star anise ice cream with black sesame caramel swirl

  • Servings: about 2 cups ice cream base
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You’ll only use about half of the caramel. As it makes a fairly small amount of ice cream, if you want to double the recipe, you only need to double the strawberries and ice cream base (there is sufficient caramel for a double recipe). 

black sesame caramel swirl

  • 55g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 70g heavy cream, heated until quite warm
  • Two finger pinch worth of kosher salt
  • 18g roasted black sesame paste, or to taste

roasted strawberries

  • 400g chopped strawberries
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

ice cream base

  • 180g heavy cream
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 120g whole milk
  • 20g granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

black sesame caramel swirl

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium high to dissolve the sugar, then allow it to bubble away, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar caramelizes. Cook to an amber – lighter if you prefer sweeter, and darker if you prefer a bit of bitterness.

Remove from the heat and pour in the hot cream carefully (it will bubble up) and stir to mix. If lumps of hard caramel form, return to the heat and stir until melted. Stir in the salt.

Transfer the caramel to a bowl and stir in the black sesame paste. Set aside to cool completely.

roasted strawberries

Roast at 350F for about 20-25 minutes or until shrunken/reduced, cooked through and the juices have mostly evaporated (after the evaporative losses, I ended up about 180g worth of roasted strawberries.) Transfer to a container (I like to transfer it directly to the cup that comes with the immersion blender as I’ll be blending it eventually) and let cool. Stir in the fresh lemon juice – the strawberries lose their brightness when roasted, and this helps recover it.

ice cream base

Combine the heavy cream and the star anise. Place in the fridge for 24 hours to cold infuse. The next day, fish out the star anise from the cream and set aside.

Get a double boiler ready – set a small saucepan of simmering water on the stovetop and find a glass bowl that fits on top. Whisk together milk, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl. Add the star anise. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the temperature reaches about 165F, or thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line drawn in it.

Pass through a sieve to and ensure no fragments of star anise remain. Transfer to a container, add the infused cream, and chill.

Add the chilled ice cream base the roasted strawberries and puree until smooth, either using an immersion blender (most convenient) or a stand blender/food processor. 

Put a pan or a container into the freezer so it will be pre-chilled.

Churn the base in an ice cream maker. Stop while the ice cream base is still fairly soft so you can swirl in the caramel a bit. If the caramel doesn’t drip from a spoon, stir in a bit more cream. Spread half the ice cream into the bottom of the pan and drizzle with some black sesame caramel. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and drizzle with more caramel. You’ll have quite a leftover caramel – save the remainder for serving or other applications.

banana, thyme & chamomile ice cream

banana chamomile thyme ice cream
banana chamomile thyme ice cream

So I am 40% certain I don’t like bananas. It may be because of historic precedence – I’ve always considered myself not a banana person. I prefer to eat bananas when they’re still a bit green and when they are best described as tasting not very much like a banana at all.

But given some of my favourite recipes on the blog are this banana bread and this tart … I’ve begun to think maybe I could be a banana person after all, so long as banana is in combination with other flavours. (i.e. green curry paste/coconut and miso/star anise, respectively).

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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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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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