I have a confession to make. I don't really care about most fruit ice creams. I love blueberry ice cream made with real wild Maine blueberries, and I like orange ice cream, and other than that, I would rather mix my fruit and ice cream by putting ice cream on my pie. Peach ice cream? I don't hate it, don't get me wrong. I'll eat it if it's served to me, but I'll never order it. I generally tend toward the nutty flavors (hazelnut, pistachio, maple walnut, butter pecan), the austere dairy flavors (buttermilk, sweet cream), and the chocolate chip family (plain, mint, coffee).
Of course, by all rights, anyone with a blog sporting the name "Seasonal Cook" should be making peach ice cream right now. Maybe plum. There are still blueberries at the farmers' markets, though they are generally the big, cultivated berries. But since the orange-tinged ricotta business, I've been obsesses with orange ice cream. Actually, more accurately, I've been obsessed with orange/ginger ice cream. Orange and ginger is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I like it spicy hot in Chinese food, I like it bitter/sweet in marmalade, and I like it plain old sweet in biscotti. I love both orange and ginger ice creams, so the two together had to be great, right?
And, I am pleased to say, yes, this ice cream came out just the way I wanted it to, thank you very much. (I have been having a tough time in the kitchen of late, it being bloody August and all, so I was due a real success.)
But I had a moment of terrible shame when I was standing in line at the checkout counter with my oranges. I looked at the annoying little stickers the grocery stores always put on the produce and they read "South Africa." My oranges had been shipped halfway around the world. This is exactly what the Seasonal Cook is completely against. And in the middle of the harvest season no less!
I bought them anyway. What can I say? I really wanted this ice cream. (Considered as a percentage of my week's food, this was a small transgression. Of course, symbolically, the oranges are highly problematic.)
I merged the orange and ginger ice cream recipes from Caroline Liddell's book and made a few adjustments. Here's what I came up with:
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
Juice and shredded rind of two large oranges.
A goodly chunk of fresh ginger, minced
About 1/3-1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
I simmered the juice of the oranges with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 the rind, and the ginger until it was reduced to a syrup. I let that cool a little, then strained. Then I heated the cream and milk together, whisked together the rest of the sugar and the yolks until light, poured the milk/cream mixture over, return to the heat, cooked to the custard point, removed from the heat, mixed in the orange/ginger syrup and the orange rind. Then I chilled the mix for a few hours before putting it in the ice cream maker. I added the chopped candied ginger a minute or two before the freezing was done.
The one complaint I have about the frozen-canister-style ice cream makers is that the canisters can melt too quickly on really hot days. I would usually freeze the mix a bit more before transferring to the freezer, but it was 100 degrees in my kitchen and that machine wasn't going to freeze that ice cre4am one bit more than it already had. Besides, I would rather err on the side of beating too little air into the ice cream (low overrun) than risk beating in too much (high overrun).
The final product. Yum.
A few comments:
Candied ginger is great in ice cream; it doesn't freeze too hard, which one might expect.
I use a lot of eggs in my ice cream. Apparently, there are people in the world who worry about ice cream being too "eggy." I am unable to speak to this, as I consider "too eggy" to be as weird a concept as "too buttery." The eggs give a very rich mouthfeel, incredibly smooth. According to Liddell, the French in general favor richness and smoothness in ice cream, while the Italians prefer intensity of flavor, and the Americans sweetness. I am all with the French here - a good gelato is great, but I will sacrifice some flavor for mouthfeel, which is why I prefer ice cream to sorbet. Also, homemade ice cream with lots of eggs keeps a good texture longer. After three days, my ice cream still isn't icy.
I think that balance of orange and ginger in this ice cream is pretty good, but the orange was too strong the first night. The next day, everything had balanced out. Not sure why. If you like to eat your ice cream right away, you might use less orange zest and increase to a "big old chunk" of ginger.