White Chocolate Ginger Ice Cream
A while back, I got rid of the Google search engine on my website, which, instead of leading people to the actual recipes that they (and I) were searching for, scores of useless Google ads covered more than half of the page of results. But even with an ad-free search engine, for some reason, I have trouble finding recipe on my website. Maybe the search engine that I got to replace it just doesn’t like white chocolate. I hear that a lot, often accompanied by, “…because it’s not chocolate!”
Nope, it’s not dark chocolate—it’s white chocolate. Unlike the flourless chocolate cake, a dessert that became famous for what it didn’t have, white chocolate never got the same love, presumably because it doesn’t have cacao paste—just the cocoa butter. But I never abandoned it.
White chocolate works best when it’s a complementary flavor and works well with contrasting flavors, including Chartreuse, bittersweet chocolate, lemon, berries, summer fruits, and especially sharp, spicy fresh ginger.
Speaking of holidays, although it’s not my birthday yet (or Christmas or Hannukah), I got myself a new ice cream machine. I’d been considering it for years, and when a friend who has a restaurant nearby asked me what machine she should buy, I told her about the Sage—the name in France for Breville appliances—ice cream machine, as people had told me it was good.
(When I wrote The Perfect Scoop back in 2006, I had to ship a Cuisinart ice cream machine with a built-in compressor from England, which I needed because I was churning two to three batches of ice cream per day. Things have come a long way in France, and now we have more models to choose from, although I still can’t get the book published in French.)
The company has been pretty non-responsive to me over the years, which put me off. But when I looked up the Sage machine online to send her a link, I saw there was a flash sale, and it was selling for half price. Maybe I’m not the ideal friend because, thinking perhaps they just had one at that price, I ordered one for myself…then I told her about the sale. Fortunately, she scored one for the same price. Even though I was both naughty and nice, we each got our machines.
But after I got my machine, I called the company because when I picked the box up at the nearby relais (delivery depot), it was sitting on the floor upside down, even though the box clearly said not to store it upside down with a big, hard-to-miss arrow pointing which way is up. The woman on the phone was very helpful (thanks, Lora!) and saved the day, which scored them some points, and after letting the machine sit upright for a few days, so the coolant could settle, I got to work using my new machine.
My old machine had just a dial, but the new machine has a host of options. I’ve often found with digital appliances, 95% of the options are useless. But I like that you can pre-cool the machine; the shorter the freezing time, the less ice crystals can form, and you can set the machine for various types of frozen desserts, from softer to harder. If you’re short of freezer space, you can “Keep cool” the ice cream.
And it was half price. Did I mention that?
We stopped celebrating Thanksgiving a few years ago since French friends don’t really care about it, and I’ve never met a French person who liked turkey, let alone sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Also, tracking down the ingredients meant a pricey scavenger hunt across the city, as well as online shaming if you posted a picture of your hard-won (and expensive) can of pumpkin.
I’d never shame anyone for not making their own ice cream, but I do like making my own, especially when an American friend who moved here a few years ago with his French-American family invites you to a Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.*
Because there are over a dozen people coming to dinner this weekend, I got cracking on a double batch of this ice cream, which would go well whatever desserts others might bring, from tarte Tatin to ginger cake.
Just for fun, I added a few dashes of cardamom extract to the ice cream mix. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, and a small amount accents the ginger nicely, but it’s one of those things that’s really best freshly ground. Like roasting fresh pumpkin, husking the pods takes a bit of time (although there are no baking sheets, food processors, and food mills to wash, as there is with making pumpkin puree), so I was intrigued when I saw that Burlap & Barrel has a cardamom extract.
Not an ad, but since their spices are so good, I had faith in the quality of their extract, which is excellent. (Note: The bottle on their website looks different than mine, so perhaps they changed the packaging.) A few dashes acts like vanilla here; it’s a gentle background flavor that highlights the other flavors rather than overwhelms them. I used about a half teaspoon, but you can add it to taste, if using.
Another favorite flavor-boosting ingredient is ginger eau-de-vie, although I’m not sure where to get that globally. Google tells me it is available in the U.S., so maybe Santa will bring you a bottle…if you’ve been nice.
White Chocolate-Fresh Ginger Ice Cream
About 1 quart (1L)
I don’t peel the ginger here as it’s just being infused, not consumed, but I do parboil the slices of ginger as there is an enzyme in fresh ginger that can cause custards to break.
A few people in the comments asked about good brands of white chocolate. Valrhona, Cacao Barry, Guittard, and Green & Black’s are good, widely-available brands. Valrhona is the most expensive and when used in ice cream, you don’t need the very best white chocolate. Just be sure the white chocolate you use is pure white chocolate, and not labeled “white bar” - white chocolate should be ivory-colored, not white.
While I didn’t include it in the recipe, you could add a small amount of ground cardamom, about 1/2 teaspoon, before churning, or a teaspoon or two of eau-de-vie.
3-inch piece (2 to 2 1/2 ounces, 60-70g) fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 cup plus 1 cup (500ml total) heavy cream
8 ounces (230g) white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
5 large egg yolks
Put the ginger slices in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover them and bring to a boil. Simmer, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain away the water but return the blanched ginger to the pan. Add the sugar, the milk, and 1 cup (250ml) of heavy cream to the saucepan and rewarm the mixture. Turn off the heat, cover and steep for at least an hour, or until you are satisfied with the ginger flavor. (You can also let it cool and refrigerate it for up to 8 hours. If you do, rewarm it before using.)
Put the chopped white chocolate in a large bowl. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the ginger-infused cream mixture, whisking constantly as you pour in the warm cream. Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Immediately strain the custard into the white chocolate, pressing on the slices of fresh ginger to get as much flavor out of them as possible. (Discard the ginger.) Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream. You can set the bowl over an ice bath and stir the mixture to speed up the chilling, but it may have cooled down enough once you’ve added the white chocolate and second cup of cream.
Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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*Thanksgiving, when/if celebrated in France, rarely occurs on Thursday. Since it’s a school night, most dinners are on Friday or Saturday, although I got invited to one last week, which did happen on Thursday. And speaking of last week, that’s when Black Friday signs (in English) started showing up in store windows all around town. Apparently no one got the memo that Black Friday is supposed to be on—you guessed it, Friday.