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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TASTED: Badass Cajeta Soy Sauce Ice Cream

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  The road to some of the world's favorite recipes is paved with people that f-cked something up.

  • Two French sisters cooking up food for guests at their hotel mucked up an apple pie and the result is what we know now as Tarte Tatin.
  • Caesar Cardini ran out of proper food to serve his guests at his Prohibition-era Tijuana restaurant so he threw together what ingredients he had to create what we know as the Caesar salad.

Last night I f-cked something up.  What was supposed to be a simple caramel ice cream turned out to be a recipe that is sure to take its place among these classics.  Or not, I don't care.  It's badass and I'm going to make it for everyone I know.

As with many events throughout history, there was a woman behind this man's folly.  In this case the woman's name is Jeni.  Jeni and I have a lot in common:

  • Jeni loves ice cream - I love ice cream
  • Jeni is a creative ice cream entrepreneur with a chain of stores in Ohio and Tennessee (Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams) that serve up some of the most inventive ice cream flavors around - I, well, I love ice cream.
Courtesy of Jeni's blog
So when I found out Jeni was releasing a cookbook with some of best flavors from her repertoire I immediately put it on my Christmas list.  When I got the book Christmas morning I realized I'd put the girliest, frilliest cookbook I've ever seen on my Christmas list.  But it didn't matter.  Jeni knows ice cream inside out.  Jeni is hardcore.  Jeni is badass.  Jeni would've scored on Alabama.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Jeni's base recipe deviates from most in that the eggs used to thicken a custard to create a base are replaced by a corn starch slurry and a bit of cream cheese.  After one run of a recipe from Jeni's book (The Best Dark Chocolate Ice Cream in the World which, even though I haven't tried every dark chocolate ice cream out there, I'd have to say that this one would probably be up there) I, in typical male fashion, declared myself an expert on Jeni's method for rich, creamy ice cream.

The ingredients ready for action
So with base recipe in hand, or mind, I started on creating my own Jeni's-style ice cream.  No question that ice cream was going to involve peanut butter or some type of caramel.  With no peanut butter at home, the recipe defaulted to caramel.  Remembering I'd recently found some cajeta (a Mexican dulce de leche made with goat milk with a slightly sour and deeper taste than dulce de leche from cows milk) I began to deviate from my original plan.  I used Jeni's salted caramel ice cream recipe as a base and off I went.

Into a pot went about 1/2 a bottle of cajeta over medium heat to get it a little bubbly and more viscous.  Warmed cream and corn syrup were slowly whisked in followed by milk.  The mixture was then brought to a dangerous boil (WATCH THIS PART CAREFULLY KIDS!) as the liquid bubbled close to, but never over, the rim of the pot.  A corn starch slurry is added and the mixture is heated till thickened then into a bowl where softened cream cheese is waiting to get incorporated.

Tasting throughout the process the mixture tasted faintly sweet, never overpowering so no modifications were needed (so I thought).  Into a plastic bag and a dip in an ice bath for 1/2 hour before going into the badass turquoise ice cream machine (yeah it's badass - anyone with a plain old white Cuisinart is a wussy).  A couple of tastes of the mix churning in the ice cream machine made me nervous.  As the mixture chilled it got sweeter and sweeter.  I thought the opposite would have been true and that the mixture would have lost sweetness, saltiness, etc. as it froze.   In the word of GOP powerhouse Rick Perry, "Ooops".

Then inspiration hit from somewhere across the universe, or at least across town.  One of Miami's most talented, humble and unsung chefs makes a small ice cream dessert with a secret ingredient that he loves to keep from diners until they've exhausted all guesses.  The secret ingredient is soy sauce.  And because this chef loves to surprise diners with this innovative dessert, I won't out him and spoil the surprise for diners lucky enough to make it to his upcoming restaurant.

A few splashes of soy sauce into the ice cream machine as the mix froze turned an overly-sweet base into something extraordinary.  It went from simply sweet to sweet, salty and (please insert the adjective of the word "umami" since I have no idea what it is).  A goof on par with that of the Tatin sisters and Caesar Cardini has resulted in one of my favorite ice cream flavors.

So thanks Jeni for your ice cream savvy.  And thanks terrific unnamed Miami chef for your inspiration.  And thanks to all who'll try this at home and be floored.

1 comment:

  1. Soy sauce ice cream is way too weird but I'd like to try it out of curiosity. My Concord NC dentist says that I should be careful because my teeth are so sensitive. It used to sting whenever I take a bite of ice cream.