Just Because It’s 2 Degrees. . . .

Er, yeah.  I made ice cream again.

Just accept that I have a condition, people!

And anyway, it wasn’t THAT cold yesterday.  (It is now, but no matter).

It started a few weeks ago when I bought a new kind of tea–blackcurrant.  I used to drink blackcurrant herbal tea when I was growing up, but then the herbal variety was discontinued, and only available as a flavored black tea.  Leaving aside my inability to deal with caffeine, I don’t much like the taste of black tea.  In my opinion, the tea overwhelmed the flavor of the blackcurrant; this is probably the way it was supposed to be, but I was still unhappy. 

So, I was sans blackcurrant tea for almost a decade.  When I saw an entirely herbal blackcurrant tea for sale at (of all places) a wine shop, though, I bought it immediately.  It’s not quite as good as I remember–probably because it’s a different brand and thus a different formulation–but it’s aggressively curranty, naturally sweet, and has a lovely purple color. 

On the afternoon when I had my third or fourth cup of the tea, I was thumbing through my favorite ice cream cookbook–if I don’t have a dessert to have with my cup of tea, I’ll read about desserts instead.  Lo, there near the center of the book was a recipe for blackcurrant tea ice cream.  I’ve seen plenty of recipes for plain blackcurrant ice cream or sorbet, but never for one where the only blackcurrant presence is that of tea.  For the next two weeks I hemmed and hawed a bit, due to the weather, but then, of course, I made it. 

I brought three cups of sweetened cream to a boil, added two blackcurrant tea bags, then turned off the heat and covered the pan.  I let the mixture infuse for about 2 hours (the recipe only calls for 1 hour, but I got distracted), then removed the tea bags, squeezing out all of the curranty juices. 

The color of cream immediately turned an odd shade of grey.  Hmm.  Not entirely appealing.  It did, however, taste fantastic, so I persevered. 

I whisked three eggs together until smooth, then tempered them with a bit of the cream, which was still quite warm.  (It is a mystery to me how my house, which is consistently far colder than the thermostat reading, has a hot spot around the stove where NOTHING ever gets cold.  It’s great for proofing dough, though).  I poured the tempered eggs into the pan with the infused cream, turned the heat back on to low, and began whisking.  It took about 10 minutes for the eggs to thicken the mixture into a custard; once it had done so, I poured it through a sieve into a big tupperware container, and slid it into the fridge. 

What with one thing and another it was several days before I managed to get the custard frozen; the wait was definitely worth it, though.  The fruitiness of the black currant was still the dominant flavor, but the background of creamy custard smoothed out its forcefulness.  I was a little offput by the greyish color, but, as Teacherman  pointed out, the tone wasn’t too far from that of a green tea ice cream; this made me feel considerably better. 

The recipe made only a few servings, but we made the most of them.  The first night we savored the ice cream by itself, but the second we served it with chocolate sauce.  I’d heard that chocolate and blackcurrant were an excellent flavor match, but I couldn’t imagine it.  It’s true–they’re perfect for each other, but I can’t really describe how.  The closest I can come is to suggest that the combination is similar to raisins and chocolate, but that isn’t really it at all.

There’s a simple solution to this dilemma, though: you’ll all just have to make the ice cream yourselves, and tell me what you think.  And then I’ll have to make it again, to see if I agree.

Published in: on January 30, 2008 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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