I have been absent for longer than I had planned — a trip to New York and work busyness has prevented me from writing up all the installments bouncing around my mind. Happily, I have been able to make some new recipes, so we’re not lacking in ideas around here.
The New York trip was in celebration of my dear friend Lauren’s baby shower. I’d never actually been to one so it was a novel experience, and a relaxed one (no stupid games, very little pomp). Lauren has always loved my lemon curd, which I frequently add to cakes and cookies, but I’d never actually done it as an ice cream swirl. The trip got my mind going — you’d want a basic flavor, but with a subtle flavor to make it not just lemon + vanilla. Enter the chilies. They add a kick, but not an unwelcome one. People who hate spicy food probably shouldn’t try this, but the mix of spice, sweetness, and tart — complete with the richness of the vanilla, use seeds and good extract if possible — make it an unusual, addictive combination. The friends who tried it while watching the Oscars very much enjoyed it.
Lauren’s Chili Vanilla with Lemon Curd
For the ice cream:
2 cups cream
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
2 serrano chilies
For the lemon curd:
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
Make the lemon curd:
In a small pot, combine all ingredients for lemon curd except egg yolks over medium heat. Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl. Stir the mixture in the pot until combined (there should be no traces of cornstarch, sugar should be dissolved, and the butter should have melted). When the mixture is hot, slowly add half of it to the bowl with egg yolks and whisk until combined. Return the egg yolk mixture to the pot and whisk constantly over medium heat until curd thickens. When the whisk begins to leave lines in the curds that last a few seconds before disappearing, remove from heat. Place lemon curd in container and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Make the ice cream:
Put one cup of milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a large bowl and position a strainer above it.
Whisk to combine 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and salt in a medium pot. Remove the stems from chilies, then slice lengthwise and place in pot. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, scrape out the black seeds (they will look like little specks and will clump up a bit) from each half and add the pot, and then add the bean halves.
Heat over medium heat, whisking frequently, but don’t let it boil. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and let sit for an hour.
Whisk three egg yolks in a medium bowl. It’s OK if there are some traces of egg white — no need to be a perfectionist — but try to minimize that.
Remove the vanilla beans and chilies from the pot. Reheat the dairy mixture. When it is hot but not yet simmering (honestly, if it starts to simmer a little, you’ll be OK), remove from heat. Slowly ladle about a cup into the egg yolks, whisking with one hand while ladling with the other to temper the yolks.
Once complete, transfer the yolk mixture to the pot, and then return to medium heat. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom at times. Once the custard is thick enough to slightly coat the back of the spatula (another sign: you will start to notice that scraping the bottom of the pot encounters some solid residue), remove from heat and pour through the strainer.
I whisk the base as it strains to speed up the process a bit. Wash the whisk off. Once the base has strained, whisk the base with the milk mixture that’s at the bottom until combined. Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool for thirty minutes (if you’re too lazy, it’s ok to just do this on the counter). Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least two hours before churning.
Remove lemon curd from refrigerator. When ready to churn, whisk the mixture to reincorporate the base. Pour into the ice cream maker and follow the instructions. While churning, place 1/3 of the lemon curd at the bottom of the container. Then add half the ice cream when it is done churning. Add another layer with a third of the lemon curd, then add the remainder of the ice cream and top with final lemon curd. The layers will probably not stay in place perfectly, which is fine. Freeze for eight hours.