Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sesame Ice Cream with Orange-Blossom Caramel

I adapted this recipe from Bon Appétit. I never got the caramel to become as dark or as thick as I wanted it, and I knew it would be a pain to serve it with the sesame ice cream, so I ended up adding it directly to the ice cream base. I’d recommend this route even if your caramel turns out fine; you could mix it in the ice cream base by hand when you transfer the mixture from the ice cream maker to the freezer; that way, you’d have streaks of caramel in the ice cream, and I think that would be a beautiful effect. Taste-wise, this was wonderful: the sesame taste is quite present, and the orange blossom complements it beautifully. The caramel is salted, which I love, but you can reduce the amount of salt (and use table salt) if this isn’t your thing.

Lactaid has stopped making lactose-free half-and-half, which I only remembered at the store. So instead of using 1 cup of half-and-half and 1 cup of milk, I put a heaping tablespoon of plain lactose-free yogurt in a measuring cup and added coconut milk beverage (NOT coconut milk from a can) until I had two cups. This helped to get the right texture and fat content. You could use lactose-free milk or your favorite non-dairy milk. Another option is to use ½ cup of soy creamer and 1 ½ cups of lactose-free milk of your choice.

In the picture, there is only one scoop of ice cream, which looks a little sad. That’s because I took the picture after lunch, and I was trying to be reasonable with my serving size in the middle of the day. That being said, I encourage you to have two scoops, which is what I ate in the evenings after dinner.

For the orange-blossom caramel sauce
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. kosher salt (which makes for a salted caramel)
¼ cup water
6 Tbsp. soy creamer (or lactose-free cream)
1 tsp. orange-blossom water

For the ice cream
¾ cup sesame seeds
2 cups soy creamer (or lactose-free cream)
1 cup lactose-free half-and-half (see note above)
1 cup lactose-free whole milk or non-dairy milk (see note above)
1 cup sugar, divided
pinch of kosher salt
8 large egg yolks (ideally from pasteurized eggs)

For the orange-blossom caramel sauce
Stir sugar, honey, salt, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and cook without stirring until mixture turns amber in color. Remove from heat; carefully stir in creamer (mixture will bubble up), then orange-blossom water. Let cool. (Caramel sauce can be made a week ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm slightly before using. You can also make the caramel sauce while the custard mixture is chilling in the fridge, before freezing it.)

For the ice cream
Toast sesame seeds in a large heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add cream, half-and-half substitute, and milk. Bring barely to a simmer, stirring often, over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing firmly to extract all liquid; discard sesame seeds. Return cream mixture to same pan; add ½ cup sugar and salt. Bring barely to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Whisk egg yolks with remaining ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl. While whisking constantly, gradually add hot creamer mixture to yolks, then return mixture to pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard is thick enough to just coat the back of a spoon, 3–5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Set bowl over a large bowl of ice water; stir custard until cool. Cover; chill overnight.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. (This is when you need to decide if you want your caramel sauce directly in the ice cream or as a topper. You can put it in the ice cream maker along with the custard mixture to blend it in completely, or fold it in with a spatula when you transfer the custard mixture to the freezer.) Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze up to 3 days ahead.

Divide ice cream among bowls; drizzle orange-blossom caramel sauce over, if desired.

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