Sometimes the path to finding a successful new flavor hits several dead ends before we find the way. Often, we’re on a path such as this because we are trying to replicate the flavor of something in ice cream, and that flavor has components that don’t work exactly right when their medium is changed.
In this case, the inspiration for the flavor came from the Indian rice pudding known as Kheer, and if you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant, you’ve probably tried it. It seems so simple and pure, but the subtle flavors in it can be deep and complex – and any one of them can easily overwhelm the other. Finding the balance can be tricky.
The ever so slightly nutty flavor of the Basmati is hugely important to get the dessert to taste right, but it has no place in ice cream. In my first attempt at this, I thought perhaps the cooked and saturated rice would be o.k. in it’s frozen state. And while it wasn’t offensive, it just wasn’t right.
The trick in this case, was to steep the base with the basmati, long enough to infuse it with the flavor of the rice, without it being a component in the final product.
To achieve the flavor we wanted, the cream and rice go through a two stage steeping process over the course of 48 hours.
Interestingly enough, we also found out that too much Cardamom (which isn’t much at all) overwhelms everything and makes the cream taste like Fruit Loops. It was thoroughly confusing, and somewhat amusing. But totally wrong.
The best outcome of flavor included using a very small amount of Cardamom, and a tiny bit of Saffron. Or maybe just enough to make for a better picture than powdered Cardamom.
The highlight this cream is the pistachios, perhaps my favorite ice cream ingredient of all. In traditional Indian Kheer, pistachios are typically a garnish, mostly an afterthought.
An afterthought? Hardly.
The Pistachios are shelled and crushed into small pieces, and perforate the spice and cream in salty bliss.
The flavors come together to be very representative of Kheer, but steer the outcome in a direction that favors ice cream just a bit better. We’ve learned over the years that subtle flavors disappear in ice cream too easily, particularly because cold temperatures dull your ability to taste. Finding a way to intensify subtlety is totally ironic, and feels kind of misguided….. but it can pay off in spades. And it sure is fun.
How about a free pint? As we do every week, we’ll be giving away two pints of this flavor. Just leave a comment on our facebook page to be entered into the drawing. If you don’t have a facebook account, leave a comment right here on the blog. We’ll draw two winners on Friday afternoon (1/13/2012) at 4pm and will announce them on our facebook page. Our only conditions are you must be able to pick it up here in Minneapolis, and be willing to give us a little feedback that can be shared with everyone else. Good luck!