It’s hard to imagine now, but several weeks ago in Ann Arbor, temperatures soared above 85F. Pierre and I biked down to Kilwin’s Chocolates in downtown to get some of their delicious Traverse City Cherry ice cream. As we were sitting outside with our ice cream, we caught a glimpse of these children gazing through the parlor window, their eyes fixed on the candy maker behind the glass. It’s rather corny, but I feel slightly wistful and nostalgic looking at that photo. (I am a person prone to reminisce a great deal and flashbacks abound here).
I wish wish wish I could turn back the clock and go to that time when I wasn’t hurrying to finish the next project; when I never looked at the calorie content on a label; when a banana seat bicycle was the BE-ALL, END-ALL; when silly phrases like team building and core values meant nothing; and when happiness meant finding all the secret levels in Super Mario Bros. If I could, I’d go there in a heartbeat.
But for now, I’ll find comfort in a bowl of ice cream. The inspiration for my recipes came from David Lebovitz‘ book, The Perfect Scoop. His helpful instructions, unique and classic flavors and lovely photos are reasons it’s the book I turn to for making ice cream.
Unlike most Americans and Westerners, Vietnamese have always enjoyed Avocado as a sweet, often topped with sugar or condensed milk. So, you can imagine my delight when I found his recipe for Avocado Ice Cream. Did he know how much we Viets adore avocado? Truly, I tell you that this ice cream Rocks the Hizzay! It’s the frosty incarnation of my all-time, favorite shake – Sinh Tố Bơ (Avocado Shake). Creamy, luscious, decadent and capable of removing any desire to dwell on the past.
Now I know you’re looking at the above photo. But before you say Oy Vey, please – indulge me for a moment: I found some tasty durian (Sầu Riêng) at the market and thought it’d be nice to make ice cream with it. Yes, tasty Durian, not Stinks-Like-Sulphuric Acid-Durian or What-the-Hell-is-That-Smell Durian, as my dear husband calls it. Yet, he’s not as charitable as the late R.W. Apple, Jr., who once wrote that durian’s aroma would stun a goat. And one of my Viet friends, who’s dined at some far out street joints in South America and Asia, simply will not tolerate it, as he describes its smell to be something “unholy” and “deeply violating”.
I admit that durian’s pungent aroma may be aggressive for some. However, I need not remind you that there are many delicacies which taste good, despite their initially off-putting aroma – for example: fish sauce, pickled turnip, fermented tofu, Feta, Stilton as well as most French cheeses, while we’re at it. Yeah, but Feta doesn’t smell like death warmed over.
Consider this, though: Coming from Viet Nam, I grew up eating some crazy stuff – like fuzzy duck embryo and fresh, congealed goose blood. But the first time I smelled blue cheese, I wanted to gag. Then, after a long, long period of wanting to hate it, and then finally tasting well-made samples of it, the flavor sort of crept up on me. I still don’t like the smell at all but I’ve somehow grown extremely fond of eating it nevertheless.
I think once you try fresh or good-quality frozen durian, you can acquire a taste for durian. You might then find it’s unique, sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor and creamy, custard-like texture as some of the reasons it’s considered the King of Fruits in Asia. I wholeheartedly love it, so much that I wanted it as the filling for my wedding cake. But alas, I was overruled by the powers that be who cited ventilation issues (puh!); and so, went with strawberries instead. C’est dommage.
AVOCADO ICE CREAM – KEM TRAÍ BƠ
adapted from The Perfect Scoop
INGREDIENTS: (makes 1 litre)
- 3 med. sized ripe Hass Avocados
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
- small pinch of salt
- Slice the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh and with a blender, purée the avocado with the sugar, sour cream, heavy cream, lime juice and salt until smooth and the sugar is dissolved.
- Freeze immediately in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
DURIAN ICE CREAM – KEM SẦU RIÊNG
INGREDIENTS: (makes 1.5 litres)
- 1 lb. fresh durian flesh
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- small pinch of salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- Begin by making a custard: Heat the sugar, milk, cream and salt in a sauce pan until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat.
- Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Slowly temper the egg yolks with the heated milk+cream until completely combined.
- Next, pour the heated egg mixture back into the sauce pan (or a double-boiler) and cook on med. heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon. You now have custard.
- Strain the custard with a metal sieve (just in case you have any cooked egg bits).
- Immediately cool the custard over an ice bath.
- Once the custard has cooled completely, blend the durian with the custard using an immersion blender or in a regular blender.
- Chill the durian-custard in the refrigerator overnight.
- Churn or freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.