Saturday, March 28, 2020

Seville Orange Ice Cream

In my anniversary post I mentioned that the little cake that inspired my chocolate pistachio cake was served with a scoop of ice cream.  So as I considered making my chocolate pistachio cake, I was thinking about ice cream too.  I wanted a flavor that would go well with the chocolate and the pistachio…and also that could be made with ingredients that I already had in the house (since we were in the first weekend after a national emergency had been declared in response to COVID19). 

I love orange with both pistachio and chocolate.  But I have already posted a recipe for “orange scented ice cream” that is made with an infusion of orange zest.  I'm sure that ice cream would be delicious with the cake, but I wanted to make something different.  As I was considering my options, I remembered a stash of sour oranges (also called Seville oranges) that I had in my fridge.  They were a gift from someone who attends my classes regularly, and I had intended to use them for marmalade…and possibly some orange liqueur.  I wondered if they might not be used for a more strongly flavored orange ice cream than the one I usually make with just plain zest.

I looked around a bit and found that no one was really making a true ice cream with Seville oranges.  Nigella Lawson has a recipe that has been made and shared on many different sites.  It is always presented as "ice cream," but it is actually more of a semifreddo (it is not churned and is just a simple, frozen mixture of whipped cream, orange juice, zest and sugar).  I’m sure it’s delicious…but I wanted to make a custard-style ice cream.

I decided to simply use my standard ice cream formula, substituting Seville orange juice for some of the dairy.  Normally I would have replaced the milk portion of my formula so as not to mess too much with the overall fat percentage of the ice cream.  But for several reasons I decided to replace half of the heavy cream with the orange juice.

My first reason was practical.  I had more milk in the house than cream and I didn’t want to blow through all of my heavy cream since I wouldn’t be replenishing my stash any time too soon.  Another reason had to do with the fact that while fat carries flavor, it also softens and mellows flavor.  And I wanted this ice cream to have a front and center orange taste.  Less fat seemed one way to achieve this. 

My final reason was a bit whimsical.  When I first started thinking about orange ice cream I wondered if maybe what I really wanted was orange gelato.  It has always been my impression that there isn't much agreement among "experts" about what makes gelato different from ice cream.  Since I have a little extra time on my hands right now, I thought I would actually look into it.  And as it turns out, my impression was correct.  There is really no consensus other than that most sources agree that gelato has less overrun (is less airy) than ice cream.  But this has more to do with the machine the base is run in than the ingredients themselves.  I did find that there are some who contend that in some regions of Italy gelato has a lower fat percentage than ice cream. And if this is the case then by replacing half of the heavy cream with juice I can get away with saying that I’m making Seville Orange Gelato (which sounds way more cool than Shelter-in-place Make-do-with-what-you-have Seville Orange Ice Cream).

The flavor of my Seville Orange Ice Cream (Gelato) blew me away.  I could not believe the intense and refreshing flavor those oranges produced.  It reminded me a bit of a really good orange sherbet (which is not the same thing as sorbet, since sherbet often includes dairy)…or what I remember orange creamsicles tasting like:  creamy…orange-y…refreshing.  It was so good that I was tempted to just zest and juice and freeze all the remaining oranges so I can make a lot more of this ice cream.  But since I really do want to make Marmalade…and maybe some Vin d’Orange…I’ll just freeze the zest and juice of a couple of the oranges that remain.  If you can get your hands on some sour oranges, you’ve got to give this ice cream a try.  We are nearing the end of citrus season…but I’m sure there are mail order sources that can be used when they are back in season (I will definitely be looking for them).

And for those of you who might be wondering why this ice cream didn’t show up on my anniversary post with the cake, the reason is again practical.  This ice cream was so special, I wanted it to have its own post…not to mention that I loved the version of the cake I made that was finished with a glaze and a few chopped pistachios.  I also didn’t want people to think they had to have Seville orange ice cream in order to fully enjoy those little cakes. I admit though, that I did sample one of the cakes, warm from the oven, topped with a scoop of this ice cream.  And I have to say, it was a match made in heaven.  

Seville Orange Ice Cream

2 Seville/sour oranges, washed and dried
1 1/2 c. whole milk
6 egg yolks
3/4 c. sugar (150g)
3/4 c. heavy cream
3 T. honey (64g)

Zest and juice the oranges.  Strain the juice.  You should have 3/4 c. orange juice.  If you are short, just increase the milk or heavy cream by the amount that you are short.  Put the orange juice in a covered container in the refrigerator until you are ready to run the ice cream.

Place the milk in a medium-sized, non-reactive saucepan.  Add the zest.  Bring to a simmer.  If you like, let the milk and zest steep (covered) for 10 or 15 minutes…but this is not necessary, the Seville orange zest is very flavorful and fragrant and imparts a lot of flavor to the milk even without steeping.  Return the milk to a simmer before proceeding. 

While the milk is heating, pour the cold cream into a chilled bowl, set aside.  Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale yellow.  When the milk boils, temper the egg yolks by gradually whisking in about half of the hot milk.  Stir the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thickened and forms a path when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon (an instant read thermometer will read between 170° and 180°F.  Immediately strain the custard into the bowl of cold cream.  Add the honey and stir until the honey has melted.  Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

When ready to make the ice cream, stir the juice into the custard.  Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a freezer container and freeze for an hour or two before serving.  Makes about 1 quart ice cream.

Note:  I was interested to see that Nigella Lawson recommended substituting a mixture of navel orange and lime juice if you are unable to get Seville oranges.  I have not tried this…but it sounds delicious!

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