Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Matcha White Chocolate Ice Cream & Kumquat Pound Cake

Some months back, I ran into a lovely lady whom I'd met through one of the classes. Knowing how big a fan I am of Hidemi Sugino's special brand of Japanese-French pâtisserie, she very generously let me in on her latest find - while Le Goût Authentique Retrouvé (the master pastry chef's first book) is in French/Japanese, The Dessert Book, his second (and significantly simpler) title, is actually in English/Japanese. It goes without saying I immediately had to order myself a copy. PS: Regular visitors of Keiko's beautiful blog will be familiar with his name and her gorgeous renditions of his signature sweets.

It also goes without saying that despite my initial excitement, anticipation and better intentions, work, life and, let's face it, plain old laziness got in the way and the slender volume has been languishing un-used until the weekend just past. The catalyst? Some kumquats I'd picked up on impulse on my grocery run earlier in the week (for more ideas on what to do with kumquats, see this breathtaking post).

The Kumquat Pound Cake recipe is pretty representative of the recipe style from the book - easy yet unusual, with hardly a complex mousse contruct in sight. An almond-based batter is folded together with chopped kumquat compote, which lends not just flavour, but a wonderful damp quality to the resulting little cakes. To further enhance the flavour, I also added a splash of a recently discovered baker's boon - although I already am very big on Nielsen Massey's vanilla products, their divine Pure Orange Extract is new to me. Love citrus desserts and/or are an avid baker? This one's a pantry essential - if you reside in Singapore, Nielsen Massey's range of fabulous extracts can be found at Shermay's Cooking School.

I wanted to churn an ice cream to pair with the citrus cake but couldn't quite decide on a flavour. Tea-sipping again came to the rescue; this time, a tall iced glass of Thé sur le Nil, a refined green tea scented with citrus and spice. So a matcha ice cream it was, but with a difference. Recalling how much I liked this matcha/white chocolate pairing, I was curious if the idea would translate well into an ice cream - white chocolate ice cream is typically cloyingly rich, but matcha would provide welcome bittersweet relief. I must confess I'm rather thrilled with the result and have written down the recipe below lest I forget, scraps of paper having a habit of disappearing mysteriously just when you're looking for them. While not cloyingly rich, it is nonetheless rich, and best served in elegant Berthillon-sized scoops.

While I personally use a Gaggia Gelatiera, this particular batch was churned in a Cuisinart Ice Cream Professional, a machine I've been given the opportunity to test-run for the purposes of designing an ice cream class to be held at the school, tentatively scheduled for sometime in the second quarter of next year. It is certainly possible to make ice cream without an ice cream machine, but I for one don't have the patience or inclination for that kind of self-punishment, not to mention the ice cream never quite acquires the absolutely smooth texture made possible by a good machine. But the reality is that most don't make ice cream frequently enough to justify the kind of serious money your average high end model with a built-in compressor system costs. Self-refrigerating units are the way to go if you don't want to hassle with canisters that require pre-freezing (plus much advance planning and ample freezer space). Such efficacy and efficiency (these heavy duty machines can churn many batches consecutively without skipping a beat) usually command a premium that can be downright shocking to the uninitiated. Which is where Cuisinart's sleek and smart machine (check it out at Shermay's Cooking School; it's the latest addition to their choice inventory of nifty cook's tools and kitchen must-haves) comes into the picture - equipped with a self-freezing compressor, fully automatic, and capable of delivering the kind of results hitherto associated with fancier (and far pricier) models. In other words, it's terrific value.

Matcha White Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes about 1 litre

375 gm heavy cream
375 gm milk
100 gm caster sugar
1/8 tsp fine salt
4 large egg yolks
200 gm white chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp matcha
1 Tbsp mirin

Place a chinoise over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium heavy saucepan, bring the cream, milk, sugar and salt to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks just sufficiently to break them up. Whisking constantly, pour the hot cream mixture over the egg yolks in a slow and steady stream.

Scrape mixture back into saucepan and cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a wooden spoon (if using a thermometer, the custard should register no more than
180°F). Immediately strain the mixture through the chinoise into the waiting bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl that will sit snugly atop the pan of water. Once water comes to the boil, turn off the heat and place the bowl of chocolate atop the pan, stirring with a dry silicone spatula until melted and completely smooth. Remove from pan of water. Scrape the warm custard into the bowl of melted white chocolate and stir to blend. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the matcha and mirin to form a smooth paste. Scrape this paste into the bowl of white chocolate custard, whisking vigorously to blend thoroughly. Let cool then refrigerate, covered, until chilled (preferably overnight).

Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.


Blogger Unknown said...

This looks delicious! Could you please give some more details on how to make the kumquat pound cake? I'd appreciate it very much. Thanks

11:46 pm, June 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to buy the Cuisinart immediately! I've been wanting an ice cream machine for so long - I've seen this in the US only. I'm so glad it's here now. Thanks for the contact, I'll call Shermay's directly. Looking forward to more of your classes!

1:37 am, June 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe on the matcha ice cream. The addition of mirin is very interesting!

3:22 am, June 28, 2007  
Blogger Anita said...

I'm not fortunate enough to have a Gaggia, but I can attest to the fabulousness of the Cuisinart - your cooking students are definitely lucky to have access to such equipment! Your creations are, as always, exquisite - my mouth is watering at the matcha ice cream!

12:15 pm, June 28, 2007  
Blogger sooishi said...

Lovely post:)
i will try the matcha ice cream as soon as possible...

Like Flabellina i fell in love with the cakes, They look soooooo goooood!

3:58 pm, June 28, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Now this looks totally shibby! Great pics too!

10:36 am, June 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's the noise level of the ice cream maker? I've read comments it's quite loud

9:03 am, June 30, 2007  
Blogger Parisbreakfasts said...

Oh My!
I'm always at a loss for words here...
AND you're going to give an ice cream class I bet.
There's nothing for it.
I must start readying myself for a trip to Singapore!
Such delicious and original photos

7:09 am, July 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Where did you order the book (The Dessert book)? Ever since my visits to Keiko's blog i've been trying to find if there's a book of Sugino's in English as well... the link takes me to amazon japan site. Thanks!

6:06 pm, July 02, 2007  
Blogger Big Boys Oven said...

Your pictures always looks great... hope to improve mine soon... I hope.

12:58 am, July 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Joycelyn - just reading your beautiful words/looking at your gorgeous pictures makes me crave (and how lucky I was to taste such lovely candied kumquats :)) Thank you for your inspiration as always - I can't wait to try the paring, I know it's going to be my favourite...

5:04 pm, July 04, 2007  
Blogger Brilynn said...

I'll add this to the extremely long list of ice creams that I need to make. I love all of your dishes, the cake dome and little bowls, they're all great!

2:59 pm, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Marie-Laure said...

This ice cream is beautiful !

3:03 pm, September 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's really interesting chocolate facts in Switzerland!

12:57 am, December 14, 2007  
Blogger Rani said...

Hi, i've been waiting for ice cream class at shermay, but so far it has not been held. do you know when it will be held? thanks!

9:40 pm, May 03, 2008  

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