SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER are Indian Summer time in northern California. It’s hot ~ sometimes much TOO hot like last week, when temperatures were in the mid-to-high 90sF (35C). As we wilt under fiercely sunny skies, chilled melon, cucumbers, and vine-ripened tomatoes beckon. Cold fruit smoothies, vanilla malt shakes, Starbucks Frappuccinos, and ice cream tempt even the most disciplined foodies.
Browsing food blogs last week, I came across the ‘Think Spice’ monthly event, this time hosted by Lakshmi Venkatesh of Kitchen Chronicles, the Flavour of Life. The theme for September is ‘Think Spice…Think Red Chillis!’ I wanted to participate. To try my hand at something adventurous.
Of course, I’ve eaten plenty of spicy food, especially as a kid in West Pakistan where special community events called for huge, multi-course, delicious meals. The curries were SO hot, my sister and I would drink several gulps of water with each mouthful. Despite all that, I’m a chili novice….so I wondered if ANY red or reddish chili would qualify for the event. Left a question for Lakshmi, asking if Chipotle, which is a milder red chili with complex nuances, might be okay as an ingredient? She said sure!
So then the question “What to Make?” I’ve got a talent for concocting superb gourmet ice creams made with organic ingredients. A few months back Manisha of IndianFoodRocks, one of my Facebook buddies, mentioned enjoying a chili-chocolate ice cream at an upscale restaurant. I’ve wanted to try my hand at recreating it, based on her description.
When I went looking for recipes, they were everywhere! Hmmmm? Exotic as it sounds, maybe spicy chocolate ice cream’s already passe? So….I wondered, what else is Chipotle yummy with? Understand ~ Chipotle’s my current fad flavor and I’ve been eating it on everything! Almost. What popped to mind were AVOCADOS. Avocados are so YUM with a sprinkling of chipotle & salt & lemon or lime. Wondered, would that work in an ice cream?
Way back in the late 70’s ~ 1977 to be exact ~ I was given a wonderful recipe for a fresh avocado pie, a delicious, must-be-eaten in one night dessert, since it doesn’t keep and tastes terrible 24hrs later. (Avocados oxidize, turn brown and taste yucky that way.)
My all-time favorite ice cream cookbook, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein, also had an interesting avocado ice cream recipe, and Sunita of Sunita’s World, Life and Food recently made a simple, straight-forward ~ gorgeously photographed ~ Avocado Ice Cream featured on her blog. So, Avocado Ice Cream with a surprise twist ~ chilis & lime ~ was what I decided to create.
Avocado Ice Cream with a Twist (of Lime & Chipotle)
2 ripe Avocados, halved & diced into chunks
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime (or lemon) juice
3/4 teaspoon of grated lime (lemon) zest
1 cup organic sour cream
1 Tablespoon organic sugar
1 teaspoon double strength Vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1-14oz can of organic Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup organic Half ‘n Half
3 Tablespoons organic Cornstarch
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) smoky Chipotle powder
Instructions for making Avocado Ice Cream:
SCOOP the avocado chunks into a blender or medium sized mixing bowl.
ADD sour cream, sugar, salt, & vanilla.
WHIR ’til smooth in blender or pulse gently with an immersion blender in the mixing bowl. (Be careful not to splash your clothing. Avocado stains & is tough, if not impossible to get out.)
ADD Lime (or Lemon) Zest, stir to blend in evenly.
COVER the Avocado Cream with a piece of waxed paper touching the surface lightly. And refrigerate while you prepare the eggless milk custard.
PUT Sweetened Condensed Milk into a medium sized heavy saucepan
SPRINKLE in Chipotle to taste (you may need to taste test as the milk heats to adjust to your liking. Once chilled the flavor becomes much more subtle.)
MIX Cornstarch with Half ‘n Half, adding small amounts of liquid ’til the cornstarch is smoothly mixed in (no lumps!)
ADD Cornstarch mix to sweetened condensed milk in the stovetop pan.
HEAT spicy sweet milk mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, ’til cornstarch thickens slightly.
*COMMENT: In my enameled pan, the cornstarch tended to congeal into lumps in the bottom corners. I took those small lumps off the spoon and discarded them.
Once the eggless ‘custard’ is thickened… REMOVE from heat.
Cover with a lid and REFRIGERATE 2-3 hours, until thoroughly chilled.
*COMMENT: You may quick cool the custard in the freezer. Take it out every 20 minutes or so to give the ice cream custard a stir and make sure it’s not freezing to the pan.
When the custard is chilled, ADD to the avocado cream mixture and STIR until completely blended together.
POUR the blended ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Our Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is very easy to use. The ice cream custard is soft frozen by the pre-frozen canister container in about 25 minutes. I always set a timer, but usually can tell by ear once it’s done as the mixer changes tone and slows down.
The ice cream needs to be hand stirred once done, so the stiff colder ice cream on the sides of the canister are blended smoothly into the softer ice cream in the center. Because homemade ice cream has no stabilizers, it melts fast…so work reasonably quickly. If you like soft frozen ice cream, it can be eaten now, but will melt into a cold soupy serving as you savor it.
If you prefer a firmer dense texture, like I do, SCOOP the soft frozen ice cream into a tightly lidded, freezer safe container to chill for another 2-4 hours. Leave an inch or two of space at the top. Ice Cream expands as it freezes.
Then SERVE sprinkled with a garnish of chipotle…
You might expect this ice cream to taste odd. It doesn’t. It’s like eating a fantastic creamy lime ice cream, tart & sweet…but not overly sweet. The chipotle adds a very subtle after effect tingle and compliments the flavors superbly. Folks who prefer more of a ‘hot kick’, should either sprinkle plenty on top or add more to the recipe as they make it.
My younger son David rolled his eyes, when I suggested he taste it last night and again this morning. Wasn’t convinced. Took some friendly cajoling to get him to take a bite. His eyes got round and twinkled as soon as the limey yumminess melted on his tongue. He thought it was REALLY good. Bill and I think it’s excellent. Bill even sprinkled chipotle on HIS serving and ate it with gusto. That’s saying something!