Monday, August 08, 2005

Frozen Ricotta Cream

I had lunch at Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville this weekend (and as an aside, the sandwich with prosciutto and fig spread was amazing), and while I was there I picked up some ricotta for making ice cream. I had come across a ricotta ice cream recipe a few month ago, and I was intrigued. I have a soft spot for all things dairy, especially cold sweet things in which the dairy flavor dominates. I love buttermilk ice cream and sweet cream ice cream and clotted cream ice cream. I love buttermilk sherbet and yogurt sherbet - not the almost-ice-cream-but-not-quite fro-yo that people order to pay lip service to their diets, but a tangy frozen combination of yogurt, lemon juice and sugar. So how could I miss with ricotta ice cream?

I found a couple recipes online, all of which contained ricotta, honey, sugar and a bit of water. Some contained up to a cup of water, some just a couple tablespoons. Those recipes that only used a little water included cream as well.

I had intended to add pieces of candied orange peel and chocolate chips to the ice cream at the end to make a "cannoli" cream, but didn't make it to the store that carries the orange peel. I decided instead to go with a fresh orange flavor, hoping that I would come up wth something that might possibly be described as "sophisticated creamsicle." Really, I love creamsicles beyond reason. I also have a secret shame - I love Hostess cream-filled orange cupcakes. Keep your Twinkies, your Ho-hos, your Devil Dogs and your Moon Pies. I cast aspersions upon Krispy Kreme, Mrs. Frisbie's pies, and all other mass-made, transfat-ridden, overly sweet baked goods. But about once a year, I sneak a delicious, forbidden orange cupcake...mmmm...cupcake....

Anyway, my point is, I like orange and cream. So my recipe was thus:
1 pound ricotta
3 T honey
1/2 cup sugar
Juice and grated peel from 1 large orange (came to 1/3 cup plus 2T juice)
2/3 cup light cream
I mixed the sugar with the 2T juice and peel and heated until the sugar dissolved, then let that mixture cool before throwing it in the blender with the rest of the ingredients. When everything was well-whirred, I froze the mix in my ice-cream maker.

And the results? The flavor was great, the cheese and orange balanced perfectly. But the texture took some getting used to. This was definitely not ice cream in the usual sense. It was dense, a bit grainy, the tiniest bit icy. The texture was, quite frankly, exactly what you would expect frozen ricotta to be, if the words "ice cream" at the top of the recipe hadn't blinded you to the fact that no blender is going to completely liquefy curds.

My boyfriend said it was good if you didn't call it ice cream, and, though at first I disagreed, I'm coming around to his way of thinking. By the second dish, the texture didn't bother me, and by the third, I actually rather liked it. From someone who tends to be narrow-minded about ice-cream-type products texturally (don't like granitas much or icey eggless ice creams), that's actually saying something. So I give the ricotta ice cream a B+ (a real B+ from the old days before grade-inflation), maybe even an A-, and recommend it to those who want to try something different. But definitely give your dessert a chance and call it "Frozen Ricotta Cream."

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