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For the longest time I have had a dream that one day I would own a Gelateria – a quaint little storefront brightly colored and smelling of heavenly delights. The setting would of course be in a quaint little town, preferably historic and with cobblestones, where I would hone my creative juices to a simple yet delectable gastronomic experiment. This town would be full of people who appreciate fine foods and artistry or maybe just a constant stream of tourists looking for a unique snack. My life would essentially be like the movie Chocolat, but instead of chocolates, I would be making gelato, because just like Vianne, I believe that good food, filled with fine ingredients, that speak to people’s hearts and souls, can change lives and ultimately make people happier.

I have always had a deep respect for artisans of food. Those craftsmen and women who dedicate their lives to a single creative outlet and do it great – with purpose and passion. I am talking about cheesemakers, hand roasted coffee roasters, breadmakers, chocolatiers, vintners, olive oil producers, and farmers.
I have also always had a deep and profound love for ice cream. That soft and creamy texture that is nothing but a blank slate for all the creativity you can throw at it! So why haven’t I opened the doors to my gelateria yet? Because also in this vision, I am much older than I am now. I have been around the world, tasted a lot of frozen treats, ice creams and gelati from all over there world filling my head with an abundance of ideas and recipes, and am at the point where I am ready to throw down roots and stay somewhere for a while, putting my heart and soul and love into my creations.

However, every great gelato maker has to start somewhere right? And aren’t the guinea pigs of said gelato makers always happy too? So from this day forward, as I live my life and get closer to that gelateria dream with each step, I will begin experimenting with ice creams – and you can be my cyber-tasters. Sound good? Good. Then Enter.

Well to start you off, here are 2 delicious recipes that I have made recently:

Tamarind-Coconut

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and
Papaya-Mango

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First I will share with you my favorite ice cream base recipe and talk a little about gelato.
I experimented with several different bases – some were custard bases, that I found were although delicious, a little too hard in consistency for my taste and then some bases without eggs. For now, I prefer these ice cream base without eggs, as it is lighter in texture and the recipe more closely resembles my adored gelato (which does not contain eggs). On that note, the secret of making gelato is not in the ice cream base, but in the kind of machine you have. For gelato, you need a machine that churns slower than your regular counter top ice cream makers – even the good ones, like my Cuisinart. This slow churning makes the ice cream much more dense and creamy and therefore also enhances the flavor. Also ice cream typically has more air in it. Gelato is also made in small batches – this is where the true artistry comes in. Plus it is stored at a higher temperature than other ice creams, which makes it so that your taste buds aren’t numbed when you but it in your mouth, like ice cream. So because of all these reasons, I cannot actually make gelato per se, however, I can and will make really good ice cream. I am also going to try in subsequent batches, to decrease the time I let the ice cream churn, which with theoretically create less air in the ice cream.

So here is my preferred base:

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream or half and half (half and half will make the texture more icy and light)
1 1/2 TABLESPOONS of Tahitian vanilla extract (I have found that using vanilla extract enhances the other flavors you add and makes the taste of the ice cream more qualitative as ice-creaminess).

METHOD:

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and granulated sugar, until the sugar has dissolved (about 1-2 minutes). Stir in the heavy cream and the vanilla. Place into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions.

Okay, now for my recipes.

Tamarind Coconut Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS:

12 dried tamarind pods, pods removed and pulp soaked in warm water for about 1/2 hour, seeds removed
3 dried unsulfured Turkish apricots
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, unpacked
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 TBS Tahitian Vanilla extract
1 TBS tamarind syrup (like coffee syrups – I found this in a Latin market)

METHOD:

Soak the tamarind pods (pods removed) and apricots in warm water for about 1/2 hour. Remove seeds from pulp and pulverize pulp and apricots in a food processor. Add the coconut milk and sugars to the food processor and whiz until mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Add in the heavy cream, vanilla extract and tamarind syrup and blend. Pour mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions.

This ice cream is phenomenal and our favorite as of yet. If you have never had tamarinds before, the taste of this ice cream is like the ripest of black cherries with the slight tang of the apricots enhancing the already apricot-y nature of tamarinds. Combined with the warmth of the vanilla and the sweetness of the coconut, you are in gastronomic paradise. I am telling you, this is amazing stuff and it hearkens back to my memory of that luscious Tamarind Milkshake of my past.

Papaya-Mango Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fresh papaya
1 ripe mango
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 TBS Tahitian Vanilla extract

METHOD:

Same as the above recipe, except that you pulverize the mango and papaya fruit first – no soaking necessary. Add the milk and sugar to the food processor and whiz until mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Add in the heavy cream and vanilla extract and blend. Pour mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions.

Papaya is my favorite fruit followed closely in second place by mango. We had a leftover mango from making Elle’s Mango Buffalo Wings, and I always have a partially eaten papaya in the fridge, so I figured why not? Luckily I also have some yummy yogurt, mango and lime sauce left over from that recipe, which is likely to be featured in an ice cream soon. :)

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A question often arises, can ice cream be made if you do not have an ice cream maker? The answer is yes, but it is annoying. After the ice cream is made and not yet frozen, pour it into a freezer safe bowl and freeze for about an hour, take it out, and break it into chunks, and then whiz it in your food processor, blending it again. Then re-freeze for another hour and repeat until it is the desired consistency and frozeness. My suggestion…if you really love ice cream and you really want to make it at home – get a machine. It is worth the time you will spend if you don’t have one.

I would also like to take this oppurtunity to thank Andhra Flavors of For Spicy Lovers for awarding me with :
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It really means so much! Especially coming from such a *spicy* blog! Consider you all awarded!