Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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Goat Cheese Ice Cream

I don’t eat strange food just for the hell of it or to geek out and lord over those with mere plebian tastes. “Oh, pish. Baby camel with a kala jeera gastrique topped with a smoked apricot foam? How very last month.” No, those guys are buffoons. I sometimes eat unusual and off-the-wall foods because they taste great. Or they might. Or I’m being polite to my hosts.

Cheese ice cream falls into the first category — or, at least, some of it does. My friend Chef Fritz Blank gave me a recipe for a fresh goat cheese ice cream back in the 90’s. Now, just hush before you spout off that it’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever heard of. You and I both know that’s not true.

Chef Fritz Blank
Though mild cheeses such as ricotta and mascarpone make subtle improvements to plain ices, goat cheese ratchets up the funk just a little bit — with great results. It's not even exotic any more. Local producers from Georgia to California make outstanding goat cheeses, but even in Kansas supermarkets, tubes of fresh chèvre are commonplace. If you want to get even funkier than goat, consider something like David Lebovitz’s Pear-Pecorino Ice Cream or Helado de Roquefort from Anya von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table.

Faced with von Bremzen’s Roquefort ice cream, goat cheese seems downright pedestrian. Oh, but it’s not. Its flavors come in three distinct waves; at first, it seems like especially good vanilla ice cream, but as it warms in your mouth, it becomes something like rich, complex New York style cheesecake. Swallow and there’s a light but distinct goaty aftertaste. I love it.

Blank’s recipe is meant for a professional kitchen, so when I make it at home, I scale it down for a more manageable recipe that yields a little less than a quart. The scaled down version follows.

Goat Cheese Ice Cream
(Glace au Fromage-blanc de Chèvre)

550ml (about 19 oz) heavy cream*
160ml (about 5.5 oz) half-and-half*
4 egg yolks
170g (¾ cup) sugar
250g (about 4 oz) fresh white goat cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the heavy cream and half-and-half in a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat without stirring. Look for small bubbles to form around the rim of the pan. As soon as a light film covers the surface of the mixture, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar, fresh goat cheese, and vanilla extract in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Stir the scalded cream into the goat cheese mixture, mix thoroughly, and chill.
Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Blank notes that a few drops of syrup “made from balsamic vinegar reduced with raisins and dribbled over the top of each serving produces a memorable Sundae.” We've been known to top it with hot fudge sauce.

* A few words on the ingredients:

Half-and-half is, nominally, half cream and half milk in the United States. But that ain’t necessarily so. As Anne Mendelson explains in Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, it is a “term with no uniform meaning.” Practically, it refers to a light, creamy liquid with 10.5-18% milkfat, depending on the state and manufacturer. Richer than milk, not as rich as heavy cream. Since light cream can range from 18-30% milkfat, there may be some overlap between it and half-and-half. Experiment and substitute at your peril/discretion.

Heavy cream contains at least 36% milkfat, though, according to Mendelson, anything richer is rare.

Goes well with:


Tammy said...

This reminds me of the goat milk ice cream made and sold at the goat farm in the Amsterdamse Bos (a huge--by Dutch/city standards-- forest on the edge of Amsterdam). Yum. And really not as crazy as it may sound.

Speaking of particularly toothsome dishes, I just posted a curry I am guessing would be right up your alley. If you decide to try it, let me know what you think.

Matthew Rowley said...

Tammy ~ I would eat both of those in an instant. What's the link to the curry?