Christmastime is almost upon us!
I don’t know if you know this, but Christmas season here in the Philippines starts as soon as the -ber months hits, then it ends around February (when shops begin replacing their Christmas decors in favour of Valentine’s). On the first day of September, the malls would begin playing Christmas carols already, and although my training in Marketing tells me this is a ploy to get people in a shopping mood, I can’t deny it does have a way of awakening the Christmas spirit somewhat. All the reds, greens, and yellows- not to mention the jolly tunes blasting from the speakers- have a way of lightening moods rather drastically.
As I write this, my thoughts still linger to those of autumn. I miss it rather immensely this year; enough to find myself a bit wistful, and so welcoming the Christmas mood this early on could give me more pleasant feelings. I am stuck between wanting to stay in the autumn mood a little longer and welcoming the Christmas mood, to be honest.
Funnily enough there is one flavour that seems as stuck between autumn and Christmas as I am- in my opinion anyway- and that would be the ginger flavour. It seems to fit into both seasons rather nicely, since it’s such a cozy and welcoming flavour. It’s both a great reminder of autumn, and a wonderful way to welcome Christmas, don’t you think?
My younger brother was the one who asked me to make this particular ice cream. He’s adventurous in that he always wants to try things he’s never eaten before, and Ginger Ice Cream is one such food. I was a bit nervous about how it might turn out so I decided to add in some Gingersnap Cookies for something sweet to contrast the earthy spiciness of the ginger flavour. I thought the ice cream was absolutely lovely with just the right amount of ginger in it. Occasionally the spiciness kicks in, but because the ice cream itself is cold, it produces quite a nice sensation. The addition of the crushed gingersnaps turned this into a surprise hit well worth repeating.
Fresh Ginger-Gingersnap Ice Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop | Makes about 1 quart (1 Litre) ice cream
Before beginning the recipe, remember to chill your ice cream maker’s bowl as per manufacturer’s instructions.
For the Ginger Ice Cream:
85 grams (3 ounces) unpeeled fresh ginger
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
For the Speculoos:
2 tablespoons (30 grams) salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons (45 grams) packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1. Make the ice cream: Cut the ginger in half lengthwise, and then cut it into thin slices. Place the ginger in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Add enough water to cover the ginger by about 1/2 inch, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then drain, discarding the liquid.
2. Return the blanched ginger slices to the saucepan, then add milk, 1 cup of the cream, sugar, and salt. Warm the mixture, cover, and remove from the heat. Let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. Rewarm the mixture. Remove the ginger slices with a slotted spoon and discard. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into another large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Place this bowl over an ice bath.
4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm ginger mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Run a finger on the back of the spatula, it’s ready once the mixture leaves a clear path.
6. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir into the cream resting over the ice bath. Stir until cool.
7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
8. Make the Speculoos: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
9. Beat together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in the molasses and egg yolk.
10. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix until smooth.
11. Using your hands, pat the batter onto the baking sheet in a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Bake for about 18 minutes. The Speculoos will be soft-baked. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, break into bite-sized chunks.
12. To assemble: Once ice cream custard has been chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in bits of Speculoos into the ice cream as it is being removed from the machine.
13. Freeze ice cream for at least 3 hours before serving.
I hope you’re not giving me a skeptical look right now. Maybe this ice cream requires just a bit more work compared to the usual flavours, but nothing special ever came out without a little hard work, I always say. Truth be told, this is quite an addictive ice cream flavour. And it’s never been more appropriate than for the season at hand!