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.
November 15, 2007 at '0:14'
Wow, many more reasons why I should invest in an ice cream machine.. I love avocado in dessets, the indonesians also love it in their “ais teler” where they have it with shards of jackfruit and young coconut. I posted my avocado shake here
November 15, 2007 at '0:38'
The durian ice-cream is my all time fav. I became addicted to the ice-cream before I tasted the real fruit! I LOVE LOVE the fruit although none of my family members can stand the smell. Luckily my future in-law family love durian so that’s good!
November 15, 2007 at '9:57'
We are on the same wave about being a kid again.
I love the first picture. It looks like it was taken it the 60′. Kilwin’s ice cream is my favorite. I love their peach frozen yogurt…mmmnnn! I have never seen nor heard of durian before. And in an ice cream? I am so intrigued. Since you live only few miles away, may be you could drop by and bring some of both the avocado and durian ice cream with you 😉
November 15, 2007 at '10:21'
I will indeed try the Avocado ice cream. My husband grew up in South America eating Avocados with onions and vinegar. I’m sure he’ll love this. And I guess I’ll have to cross Front Street in Traverse City to get some Kilwin’s cherry ice cream for lunch today. Your photo inspired me to take advantage of the day; carpe diem. And I work at Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. (I know, can you imagine such a wonderful job!) Some days, one gets so caught up in those core values that one almost doesn’t notice that sapphire, blue bay on the drive home. Thanks for the moment. Also wanted to invite you to read our free Food & Wine Up North newsletter, subscribe on our home page http://www.traversemagazine.com. It might not cover durian ice cream, but it’ll give you some good recipes for local produce–and I do remember a cherry ice cream recipe from this summer ….
November 15, 2007 at '11:00'
Here’s that recipe–
Black Cherry Ice Cream
From Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine In Season by Emily Betz Tyra
2 cups ripe black cherries, pitted
2/3 granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped
fresh lemon juice (I used lemon zest, but I like lemon-y things)
Mash cherries slightly with the sugar in a bowl.
Fold in whipped cream and add just a squeeze of lemon juice — more if you like your ice cream a little less sweet.
Pour the mixture into a container (metal bowl works).
Cover and freeze until firm, beating by hand after 1 1/2 hours.
Let freeze at least 4 hours total.
November 15, 2007 at '12:16'
Thank you. I’ve been wanting a recipe for durian ice cream ever since I made some wasabi ice cream awhile back. Seems like it would be an appropriate follow up.
November 15, 2007 at '12:37'
I resisted buying an ice cream machine for a long time as I feel I have too many appliances already. I found the Cuisinart 1.5 Qt. model on sale, I broke down and bought one. No regrets though!
I’m glad this is a favorite for you. And I’m glad your future in-laws also like it – sounds like you’re off to a good start 🙂
Durian is mostly grown in SE Asia. It’s notorious for its *distinct* aroma. I’m thinking some of us here in SE Michigan could get together one of these days. I will surely bring some avocado and durian ice cream.
Thanks for your kind words. Indeed, carpe diem! I know it’s cold here in Michigan now (and perhaps even colder where you are?) but that shouldn’t stop us from having good ice cream 🙂
And thank you for the black cherry ice cream recipe. Soon as I get my hands on some black cherries, I will try this (also with lemon zest).
And another thanks for the link to Traverse Magazine and the newsletter. I had not come upon your publication before – very impressed with the style and content. Great work!
November 15, 2007 at '15:04'
You are so lucky to find good quality durian here! All I see here in St Louis, is overpriced frozen durians. 😦 When I have lots of durians back home, I like to scoop the flesh out and freeze it in a container. My kind of intense durian ice cream.
Oh, do you have a good recipe for avocado shake? I LOVE avocado shake but can’t really make one that taste like the real thing..pretty please?
November 15, 2007 at '15:25'
Lovely photos. I think durian is beautiful, but I’ve only tried it once as a paste (from a professor who brought some back from Thailand) – think durian fruit roll up. I imagine if I ate it often enough, I might could love it, but the first taste was really an experience 😉 Call me an Asian lightweight – ha ha ha! You are an inspiration – thanks for broadening my horizons.
November 15, 2007 at '18:31'
Never had Avocado ice-cream before. And I now have another way eating Avocado! What a fantastic idea!! As for Durian, I used to be a great fan of it when I was young but I now don’t eat it anymore. Probably because at one point my mom said it ‘heaty’ to eat too much.
*LOL* Cheese… tell me about it!! When I first smelt Camembert, I was turning around, looking for some stinky shoes 🙂 But now, I like Camembert, the taste and the texture. Yum!
November 15, 2007 at '19:56'
Unfortunately all durians are frozen here…have you been to a durian orchard and wait for them to fall and as soon as they do, open them up and eat them? That’s the way I had durians when I was growing up…you should try it.
November 16, 2007 at '2:15'
Ok I am all over that avocado ice cream…for the durian one I need a little bit more convincing…maybe I have read too much about it and it is clouding my opinion…I should know better than to have preconceive ideas, I eat tripe and blood sausage without a problem!
November 16, 2007 at '17:28'
To make one avocado shake, I blend a whole small avocado (or half of a large one) with 1/4 cup of condensed milk and 1/2 or 2/3 cup of milk. You can also use plain sugar if you don’t want to use condensed milk. I like it super-thick, so add more milk if you wish. Hope you like it!
Jen – mmmm, durian fruit roll up. Actually, I’ve never tried it that way. I imagine it tastes much different than the fresh fruit – perhaps even more intense? I hope you’ll get to try it fresh someday.
I know…some cheese remind me of smelly feet. Yet I still eat it. Go figure.
I’ve never been to a durian orchard before. I would love to go next time I’m in Asia. I can just imagine how amazing the fresh taste is.
My husband is with you – he’s going to need a little bit more convincing and some serious hard cash before trying durian ice cream. But you’re right – tripe and blood sausage smell pretty awful, yet I love that stuff!
November 17, 2007 at '23:16'
Wow… love reading your blog and love your pictures.
Can I enquire as to the type of camera you are using…
November 18, 2007 at '22:48'
Thanks for your kind words…I shoot the majority of the photos on this blog with a Nikon D80 (and sometimes a Nikon D50) and a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens [which, as you probably know, with a cropped sensor, is equiv. to 75mm].
November 19, 2007 at '23:40'
Anh .. Ice cream and my favorite fruit too .. Duran .. How can you go wrong with that.
November 24, 2007 at '1:18'
HB, I just tagged you for an award! Please check out the details on my blog! 🙂
November 24, 2007 at '17:27'
“…when happiness meant finding all the secret levels in Super Mario Bros.”
*sniff* Yes! Yes, it’s true!
On the sweeter side, avocado ice cream has to be richest, creamiest thing in the World, right?
November 24, 2007 at '23:29'
the first picture reminds me of Jones Ice Cream in Baldwin MI, I remember looking through their window when I was a child. I still think that their ice cream is the best.
November 24, 2007 at '23:32'
PS I agree the SE Michigan Food bloggers should get together.
November 25, 2007 at '17:37'
I long for those days too…*sigh*
Your ice cream makes me long for that cookbook!
November 27, 2007 at '13:58'
I love avocados, both in sweet and savory dishes. This recipe does not call for a custard base – which I imagine could make it even more decadent. If I ever try that, I will let you know.
Shayne- Yes, let’s think of possible dates!
I think the book is a valuable one to have around. It’s the best icecream book I’ve ever come across.
December 2, 2007 at '9:50'
I am definitely looking forward to the Ann Arbor food bloggers get together. Please count me in!
February 12, 2008 at '21:40'
Hi, I bought the machine! And I received a request for durian ice cream.. Which brought me to your site again! Just a qn, did ur blender and ice cream machine smell of durian even after washing. I’m a little afraid to contaminate my machine.
February 12, 2008 at '22:46'
Hi Farhan – I didn’t notice any smell on the blender or ice cream machine afterwards…I think if you wash it properly (in hot, soapy water) immediately after use, it shoudn’t be a problem… I’ve made other ice creams after making durian and I didn’t detect any durian smell/flavor in them so I think you should be good to go. Good luck with your ice cream – please let me know how it turns out for you.
April 18, 2008 at '23:47'
Funny, I was asked about Avacado Ice Cream the other day. Not a favourite, I prefer something softer like Japanese Cherry Blossom Ice Cream..yummy.
Japanese Ice Cream
June 21, 2008 at '6:44'
What market can I find fresh durian? I have been wanting to try it for ages! I’m right in SE Michigan, but I haven’t seen it anywhere, I was led to believe it was not available in the US. Thanks a bunch!
January 7, 2009 at '10:35'
Well just like Joe i am also wondering where i can find some Durian to try. But looking at the date Joe posted his question i am to assume nobody knows???
January 7, 2009 at '10:37'
Oh i am also in the Detroit area. So please help out me and Joe to further our love and curiosity for exotic foods
July 22, 2009 at '19:22'
Joe & Mitch — As mentioned somewhere above, durian is not typically available fresh in the U.S. However, most good-sized Asian markets carry frozen durians (where “good-sized” is defined as big enough to carry frozen durians). Of course, one thaws them before tackling them (with care!). I assume that the two durians I’ve had the good fortune to share were bought this way — one was better than the other, but both were delicious.
If you’ve never experienced durian before, try to remember NOT to give it your usual new-food experimental sniff, because if you do, you may never work up the courage to eat it. My trick to enjoying durian is to hold my breath until it’s actually in my mouth.
By the way, here in the U.S., durian is especially popular with raw fooders, because it has such a lovely creamy custardy texture — with no cooking or added ingredients required. The flavor reminds me of a generically-fruity vanilla pudding. Durian ice-cream sounds to me like gilding the lily!