Guys! I made ice cream!
Last summer, I stumbled upon Carey’s gem of a blog, Reclaiming Provincial, by way of this remarkable ice cream — a honey-thyme & blackberry-goat cheese swirl ice cream. Let’s repeat that and just let it marinate for a second. Honey. Thyme. Blackberries. And goat cheese. I can’t remember the last time I’ve so instantly known that something would be delicious. Creamy yet tangy, probably wonderfully smooth, definitely all-around awesome — I was completely captivated.
So naturally, the moment I found myself with a (highly impractical, highly large, but highly coveted) ice cream maker that I’d thrown on my Amazon wishlist for Christmas and just assumed no one would actually buy for me (Lesson #1 in Amazon-Wishlist-Making: Fully visualize the possibility that you might actually own the thing you are carelessly telling other people to spend their money on for you, also, THANKS MA!) I knew I wanted to try making an ice cream like it. (Sidenote: Unfortunately, this does require an ice cream maker. I know, it’s a bummer if you don’t have one…)
But given that this is not quite the season for blackberries, and given that I had just one more pear leftover from the poached pears I made for these pear and almond galettes back in October (yeah, time stops in the freezer), I didn’t make exactly that ice cream. Instead, I went with a riff on Carey’s that incorporates a lot of the same elements, but rearranged a bit — the goat cheese went in the ice cream base, and I pureed the pear with its poaching syrup to make a pear swirl instead.
It. Was. Amazing.
Seriously. The goat cheese, paired with the honey, adds a refreshing depth to the full-fat creaminess of an ice cream base that might otherwise verge on heaviness. At the same time, the pear swirl, with its anise, cinnamon, and clove goodness, balances out that bold tanginess with some warm fall flavor, and what’s more, it gives the ice cream a little bit of texture without the seized-up iciness that typically comes with frozen fruit.
I ended up serving this at a couple of friend-gatherings we had over the holidays, and while I got some askance looks at “goat cheese” and “ice cream” in the same breath, almost everyone who tried it gave rave reviews and went back for seconds. I can see the honey and goat cheese working well with any number of things — these pears, figs, and, in a few months, strawberries or those tantalizing blackberries. It’s genius. Thank you so much, Carey! Now I’m going to have to restrain myself from putting goat cheese in every ice cream I make for the rest of forever. And I’m definitely never buying ice cream ever again.
A few words about the ice cream machine in case you’re on the market for one — the one that I used was this Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Ice-Cream Maker. It’s pretty much the cheapest one out there (just $25 on Amazon right now), which is a plus, but be forewarned that it’s enormous. (Again, Amazon wishlist lesson: Visualize, Cynthia!) I hadn’t anticipated how huge it would be, so it’s a little unwieldy in my kitchen, but luckily we happened to have the space. It may not be so if you’re also in New York and know the pains of precious New York kitchen real estate. It also requires rock salt and a lot of ice to operate, unlike some that have bowls or gel packs that you freeze — besides the fact that I realized it after I came back from the grocery store, I kind of think it’s actually a plus, because freezer space is at more of a premium than kitchen space in our apartment, and this way you aren’t stuck waiting around if you forget to throw the gel pack in the freezer or something like that. And now I also have enough rock salt to defrost Antarctica, so there’s that.
And okay, lastly — I feel a smidge guilty posting an ice cream recipe that requires churning because for the longest time, prior to getting this ice cream maker, I used to be so bummed out whenever I saw a fantastic recipe and then subsequently discovered I couldn’t make it without churning it. As my way of apologizing, I present to you a fantastic-looking no-churn fig coffee ice cream by Sarah at The Vanilla Bean Blog — another wonderful flavor combo and a recipe that only needs to be frozen (and doesn’t even need to be stirred from time to time!) I’m tempted to use condensed milk and cream to see if this can be made no-churn, just to try (and, okay, just to have more goat cheese ice cream because I’m addicted!) Sarah has an entire array of no-churn recipes (rhubarb! olive oil and vanilla! bittersweet chocolate with fleur de sel!) just waiting to be not-churned by you.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk (I substituted almond milk with wonderful results)
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3-4 oz fresh or creamy goat cheese (my favorite is Vermont Creamery)
- 1 poached pear (recipe below)
- 1 cup poached pear syrup
- Slice the pear into quarters, then place the pear and poaching syrup into a small pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until pear is very soft and syrup has thickened. (If you're poaching it on the same day, simply let it simmer for 15-20 minutes longer than the recipe calls for.) Pour the syrup and pear into a blender or food processor and puree. If you want a smoother syrup, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove pulp and use only the resulting syrup. I originally thought I would use just the syrup but loved it with the pear included for a little extra texture. With the pear, this should yield a generous 1/2 cup of puree.
- Add the cream, milk, honey, and goat cheese to the same pot and heat over medium heat, stirring until mixture barely begins to bubble on the edges and all ingredients are dissolved. Immediately remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Whisk egg yolks together. Temper by whisking the warm cream mixture into the egg, a spoonful at a time, until you’ve added about half the cream. Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the original saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. For me, this took about 15 minutes (which can feel a bit long, but it's worth it!)
- Refrigerate mixture until chilled — ideally overnight. Process in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is finished churning, add a layer to the bottom of a large tin. Add a drizzle of the pear syrup, then lightly swirl in with a chopstick or knife. (Don't worry too much about swirling -- you could just drizzle it and add another layer and the swirl effect will come through just fine.) Add another layer of ice cream and repeat. Continue until all the ice cream is in the tin.
*On the type of goat cheese, I used fresh, not the crumbles, and don't know how it would taste if you opted for the drier type.
2 cups water
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 anise star
1 cinnamon stick (or about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
2-3 medium Bosc pears, ripe but still firm, sliced into halves (I only used two and froze the third)
In a pot, combine water, sugar, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and anise, and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves, then add the pears and cook for 10-20 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove the pears and reserve the syrup for other uses.
Note: Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking — sometimes I throw in nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom depending on how I’m feeling, and it’s all great.