While at the farmers market recently, I came across a big booth of super fresh local asparagus. I knew it was destined for ice cream.
Most of the ice creams I make are a custard (egg) base, but I thought it would be too heavy for such a light, crisp flavor. I figured this would be the right time to try out Jeni Britton Bauer’s method of ice cream making. You may already be familiar with Jeni: on top of running 8 ice cream shops in Ohio, she also published an amazing compendium of her ice creams, and, oh, also was a James Beard Award recipient this year. Her method involves 3 bowls: a slurry in one, the salt and cream cheese in another, an ice bath in the third. You then boil the milk, cream, sugar and syrup for 4 minutes. The slurry is whisked in and returned to a boil. The hot milk gets whisked into the cream cheese, then everything goes into a big Ziplock bag and gets plunged into an ice bath. Then comes churning, freezing, and eating. Sound like a science experiment to you? That’s kinda how it felt.
By time I had finished with this my kitchen looked like a tornado had ripped through it. The clean-up was pretty intense. And as for the taste? Well, it depends on whether or not you like asparagus. I had 16 people taste this ice cream and asked their opinions. Without fail, every person who liked asparagus loved this ice cream. The two people that did not like the ice cream didn’t like asparagus anyway. So if you are not a lover of asparagus, this is not the recipe to change your mind. If you do love asparagus, get ready for one of the creamiest, freshest, sweet and pleasantly crisp ice creams you will ever taste.
Asparagus Ice Cream
Using the method found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (buy it, it will change your ice cream life forever).
Makes about 1 quart
- 8 oz asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- 2 cups milk (475ml)
- 2/3 cup sugar (150g/5.5oz)
- 4 tsp corn or tapioca starch
- 3 tbs cream cheese, room temperature (1.5 oz/45g)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbs corn or tapioca syrup (30ml)
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (300 ml)
- First, get your bowls ready. In a small bowl, whisk the corn or tapioca starch with 2 tablespoons of the milk until a smooth slurry is formed. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and a small amount of cold water. Place a mesh sieve over an empty medium bowl.
- Puree the asparagus with one cup of the milk in a blender or food processor. In large saucepan, toss in the puree, the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn or tapioca syrup. On medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Set a timer for 4 minutes (timing is very important). After the four minutes, remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through the sieve and press against any remaining asparagus to extract as much milk as possible. Discard the bits of asparagus.
- Ladle a bit of the hot milk into the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the rest of the hot milk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon freezer Ziplock bag and seal. Plunge this into the ice water bowl and knead gently until the mixture is well chilled. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Spread into a shallow container, cover with plastic wrap, and seal with an air-tight lid. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours.