Hi friends! Can I say I missed you guys? I know it’s only been a week, but somehow it feels longer since I last sat down for a peek into the blog world. Maybe because it’s been a smidge hectic around here lately. That seems to be the case for every lawyer-type friend I know these days, which is a weird thing for the middle of a hazy hot summer. But there’s usually a mass exodus in August where every other partner disappears on vacation and the firm falls into a sleepy lull that seems more fitting for the summertime — so I guess the rush might be getting everything in order before, as they say, the cats go away. (And the mouse can sit on her computer and read blogs.)
Until then, though, we have ice cream! Because you can never be too busy for ice cream, especially one with a welcome caffeine punch. This one has a double-dose from both coffee and black tea, a homage to the milky Hong Kong hybrid I’ve mentioned briefly before. Yuanyang speaks to my indecisive heart in the most satisfying way — instead of making me choose between my favorite, coffee, and my other favorite, smoky Hong Kong milk tea, it mixes it all up into one creamy cup. And it turns out it’s just as lovely in ice cream — if not even better, with chewy frozen swirls of condensed milk laced throughout.
I tried two approaches for freezing up yuanyang — one is a traditional churned ice cream (made with a Jeni’s base, because of course) and for my friends without ice cream machines, the other is a quicker no-churn recipe that uses one of my favorite Season with Spice products, yuanyang mix. The churned recipe came out stronger and smokier in its tea flavor in particular, but the no-churn version is a bit sweeter and gentler, and I liked that it uses condensed milk, which, after all, is sometimes what goes into traditional Hong Kong milk tea. In the end, I loved them both for their own reasons, so both are below! And to finish it off, I made a quick condensed milk crumble inspired by Momofuku Milk Bar’s milk crumbs (last week Momofuku, this week Milk Bar!). They’re chewier and softer than regular milk crumbs, but firm up quickly when cold, and I thought they were perfect as a toothsome something extra on top.
Hope you’re having wonderful Wednesdays!
- for the ice cream:
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) loose leaf black tea (Chinese black teas are wonderful, but most any black tea will work just fine; I used Keemun Hao Ya 'B')
- 3 tbsp (1 1/2 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (plus more for serving)
- for the milk crumb:
- 3/4 cup (60g) milk powder, divided
- 1/2 cup (63g) flour
- 2 tbsp (12g) cornstarch
- 2 tbsp (25g) sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp (27g) butter, melted
- 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- In a bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the milk, and set aside. In a medium pot, whisk together the remaining milk, cream, sugar, syrup, salt, and espresso powder. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes, stirring continuously. If the mixture becomes too frothy and threatens to boil over, partially or totally remove from heat for a few seconds until it calms. I found that scooting the pot halfway off the burner and continuing to cook worked well.
- After 4 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and add the tea leaves. Let steep for about 10 minutes, then whisk in the cornstarch-milk slurry and turn the heat back to medium-high. Return the mixture to a boil and cook for about a minute more, stirring continuously, until thickened. Strain the hot mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on the tea leaves to extract the most flavor.
- Place cream cheese in a bowl and pour in a small amount of the hot milk mixture. Whisk until smooth, or use an immersion blender to get out the lumps. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture, then pour mixture into a plastic bag, seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled.
- Once cold, pour mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. (Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, see Notes for a no-churn adaptation.) Transfer to a 9x5” loaf pan in layers, drizzling with sweetened condensed milk every so often. Chill in freezer until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.
- While the ice cream is freezing, make the milk crumb. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Combine 1/2 cup milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Fold the melted butter and sweetened condensed milk into the dry ingredients until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.
- Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until crumbs are sandy in texture but still pale.
- Crumble clusters to your desired size, then toss with 1/4 cup additional milk powder until evenly coated. Enjoy over ice cream and more condensed milk!
For a no-churn version, use 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 tbsp yuanyang mix, and 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk.
Heat a few tablespoons of the cream in a small saucepan or the microwave until warm, then whisk in the yuanyang mix until smooth. Chill thoroughly until very cold, then add to the remaining cream (which should also be as cold as possible) and use an electric mixer to whip the cream to medium peaks. Whisk one-third of the cream into the condensed milk, then fold in remaining whipped cream until incorporated. Pour into a 9x5 loaf pan. If you like, you can pour the mixture into the tin in layers, alternating with swirls of condensed milk. Freeze until firm, about 6 hours or overnight. Note that this recipe can sometimes turn out sweet for some folks -- if you tend to find things sweet, reserve a fourth of the condensed milk and taste the mixture after you've folded in the whipped cream. If not sweet enough at that point, add the remaining condensed milk.