August 29, 2008

Coffee Ice Cream

Posted in dessert, ice cream, recipe, Uncategorized at 10:27 pm by veganalects

Once again, I find myself having to apologize for my unexplained absence. The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind—I went to California (Millennium Restaurant absolutely lives up to its reputation) and Milwaukee (I must retract my snarky comments about Cream City’s vegan offerings; I ate quite well), then packed for school and am in the process of moving into my apartment. But I have been cooking and documenting—now I just need to update.

My second try with the ice cream maker yielded results similar to the first time: good but not perfect. I think the texture on this one was a little better because I just used soy creamer, which has a higher fat content than soymilk. Getting a better soy creamer might improve the ice cream, too (I’ve been using decent-and-widely-available Silk creamer). Again, I’ll provide the recipe because I liked it well enough to serve to others, but I don’t consider this my final pronouncement on coffee ice cream.

But first, a word or two on starches. I used arrowroot powder the first couple times I made ice cream because that’s the standard on A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise. After two quarts of ice cream, however, my $6 container of arrowroot was almost gone. My wallet could not support my ice cream habit. I’ve heard cornstarch doesn’t freeze well so I decided to look for tapioca starch. I found it at my local Thai grocery for 89¢ a pound. The arrowroot was $6 for a 50 gram container (a spice bottle). At about 450 grams per pound, that means arrowroot costs more than sixty times as much as tapioca starch. Sixty! Arrowroot may come a bit cheaper in bulk, but any way you add it up, it ain’t worth it. So, budding vegan ice cream makers, find an Asian grocery, inconvenient though it may be for some of you, and stock up on dirt cheap tapioca starch.

Coffee Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart

2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 ½ cups soy creamer
1 ½ cups very strong coffee
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Stir the tapioca starch into ¼ cup of the soy creamer until dissolved. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining creamer and coffee in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir more frequently as the mixture approaches a boil.

3. When the liquid boils, turn the heat down until the liquid is at a simmer.

4. After 3 minutes, whisk in sugar until dissolved, then whisk in tapioca mixture until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

5. Chill for several hours to overnight, then make according your ice cream maker’s directions. You may need to freeze it for two hours after it comes out of the ice cream maker to solidify it. Store unused ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer; it will be very hard right out of the freezer, but microwaving it for 15 seconds will soften it.

July 20, 2008

Green Tea Ice Cream

Posted in dessert, ice cream, recipe, tea, Uncategorized at 7:42 pm by veganalects

Tea, tea, tea. I cannot get enough tea. Everything about it delights me: the wares, the process, the associated foods…not that I’m even very knowledgeable about tea, as became clear to me when I looked at a few tea blogs. But anyway, I decided that for my first foray into ice cream-making I should attempt not vanilla or chocolate but green tea. I had the matcha powder, I now had the ice cream maker, so I had no excuse not to make it.

For ideas about how to proceed I started with Veganomicon. Its one ice cream recipe is based on coconut milk, however, and I wanted to avoid a strong coconut taste in this case. So I turned to the internet, recalling that I’d come across a vegan ice cream blog once before. It’s not too good to be true! I used a template from the extremely useful A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise, with my own add-ins. So while the recipe is mine, the credit is not.

Onto the verdict. The ice cream was really good—the ingredients were well-balanced, the tea came through nicely, it wasn’t too sweet, and (paramount for me) it was satisfyingly creamy. It fulfilled my ice cream needs and I would definitely make it again.

But.

It’s not perfect. The texture is not quite right. It’s not sorbet, which I’ve never cared for much; it is creamy. Yet it’s not quite ice cream either—not full-fledged, silky-smooth ice cream, anyway. It’s sort of 85% ice cream, 15% sorbet. This may be an issue of veganness, but I doubt it: I have had both store-bought and homemade (well, restaurant-made) vegan ice cream that did not suffer from this flaw. My mom also said she remembers having this problem with dairy ice cream, and that the solution was to make a custard first. So I don’t know if cooking it longer would help, or increasing the creamer-to-milk ratio, or what. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Still, I’m posting the recipe because I’m mostly happy with it and I still recommend it to other vegans craving ice cream. I used an ice cream maker, but apparently there are other methods.

Green Tea Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart

2 tablespoons arrowroot
2 cups soymilk
2 cups soy creamer
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons matcha (green tea powder), sifted to remove lumps
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

1. Stir the arrowroot into ¼ cup of the soymilk until dissolved. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining soymilk and creamer in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir more frequently as the mixture approaches a boil.

3. When the liquid is gently bubbling, whisk in sugar until dissolved, then matcha until dissolved (it will not actually dissolve, but will be in suspension).

4. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in arrowroot mixture until dissolved. Then stir in the extracts.

5. Chill for several hours to overnight, then make according your ice cream maker’s directions. You may need to freeze it for two hours after it comes out of the ice cream maker if you desire a thicker texture. Store unused ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer; it will be very hard right out of the freezer, but microwaving it for 15 seconds will soften it.

July 7, 2008

An Apology, and a Long-Promised Update

Posted in dessert, ice cream at 12:34 am by veganalects

Hi there. Remember me? I enthusiastically reported a Wheeler’s tasting in March, then mysteriously disappeared. Sorry! In truth, my disappearance was not so mysterious; it can be summed up in the word “college.” College has a tendency to swallow people whole and only spit them back out come summer. Summer came, and then I traveled here and there, but I’m finally back home and I’ve been itching to blog.

Please know that during my hiatus I continued to read my beloved vegan food blogs—I was too ashamed to comment—and I continued to cook and photograph the results. So I have a handful of posts for you, and I plan to cook the rest of the summer and even in the fall (with more success, I hope, than I had last semester). Without further ado, onto the three-and-a-half-month-old Wheeler’s tasting.

Although I could only stay long enough to try four flavors of the much-blogged-about vegan ice cream, it was enough to convince me that Wheeler’s is for real. Meaning, as delicious as I’d heard. Pictured above is peanut butter.

This one, peanut butter banana, was my favorite. It was creamy and thick, plus I’m a sucker for ribbons of peanut butter in ice cream. God, how I wanted to ask for another sample, but the Wheeler’s representatives knew my face.

Here’s pink champagne sorbet. It’s made with real champagne and you can definitely taste it.

The last one I had, chocolate baby coconut, is not pictured (it was rather unphotogenic, and I got some weird looks diving under tables in search of decent lighting). It was more sorbet-ish than the other ice creams, which I wasn’t wild about, but it was satisfyingly rich and well-flavored. Asylum, where the tasting was held, is pretty cool, too—I had home fries and vegan sausage and met some great people, including a woman from Compassion Over Killing, the DC-based organization the event benefited.

I just got an ice cream-maker for my birthday, so you’ll be seeing my creations on here, too! Tips welcome; I think I’ll start with the Veganomicon recipes.