Monday, June 18, 2012

Homemade Blackberry Gelato

It has been so long since my last post, I feel like I can't even call myself a blogger anymore. I've just been so lazy recently and haven't had the energy to spend any time in the kitchen. Summer school is only an hour and a half a day during the week though, so I don't understand why I have been so incredible tired and unmotivated - And I had so many plans for my culinary endeavors this summer too! Perhaps I'm just getting off to a late start. Maybe i'll kick it into gear once summer school is over.

After I finally got the coveted ice cream maker I had been wanting for Christmas, all I can think about these days is gelato - and ice cream - and sorbet - and frozen custard - and anything else remotely viscous that I can possibly freeze up during these incredibly hot summer days. I find myself drifting off at work as I lean over the gelato machine, dreaming and scheming of endless flavor combinations - Pear and goat cheese gelato; tiramisu ice cream with a marscarpone base, swirled with a rum coffee syrup and chunks of pound cake, blueberry crisp gelato, red velvet cream cheese ice cream, raspberry coconut sorbet.....the possibilities are endlless. But before I start making these exotic flavor combinations, I need to become a master of the basics first. You can't just toss a bunch of ingredients together and hope they freeze to that perfectly smooth and creamy texture we know and crave. Frozen desserts are an incredible science, and one simple mistake can turn your creamy gelato into an icy mess with a less than pleasant mouth feel.

For one of my first attempts, I made a simple blackberry gelato using a recipe from the book Making Artisan Gelato. It's a really great book because it breaks down and explains every step in a very easy to follow way. The first few I made turned out fantastically, but my most recent attempts have left me far from satisfied. I've been following the recipes to a T though, so I still need to figure out what it is that I have been doing wrong....that I wasn't doing wrong before.

The best tips I can give for a beginner (that I had to learn the hard way) are the following:
1. make sure you thermometer is an instant read thermometer NOT a candy or meat thermometer. The second the thermometer touches the liquid, you should have an exact temperature, s it should probably have a digital reader. I was using both a meat and and thermometer at the same time at one point and couldn't figure out why they told me completely different temps.

2. Read the recipe at least three times before getting started.

3. Weigh out all of your ingredients first.

4. Set up all of your stations before you begin cooking. You should have a milk/custard station over the stove, an egg yolk/ tempering station, and a straining/ ice bath station.  Towards the end, everything happens pretty quickly so it is better to have everything set up beforehand so you can work without stopping.

5. make sure all of your ingredients are room temp (like your egg yolks for example). I don't know the super scientific reasons for this, but I know its important. so do it.

that's all I got fa now....hopefully as I get better I'll develop my own foolproof routine.

Homemade Blackberry Gelato
I adapted Kopfer's raspberry gelato recipe from her book and used blackberries instead (they are my favorite). I also excluded the use of the jam because for some reason it caused my milk to curdle (twice)....

1 ¾ cup (410 ml) whole milk
1 ¼ cups (295 ml) heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (226 grams) granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (232 g) strained blackberry puree (made from about 3 cups of fresh blackberries) 

Mise-en-place: medium sized bowl with the heavy cream set over an ice bath, with a strainer resting on top of the heavy cream bowl. Egg yolk station, right next to sauce pan station (stove).

1. Pour milk, 1/4 cup (60 ml) of heavy cream, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (175 g) of the sugar into a heavy bottom sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thermometer reaches 170 degrees (F).

note this is NOT an instant read thermometer (I think it's actually for meat....)

2. While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) of sugar together in a small bowl until foamy. When the milk has reached the required temperature, temper the egg yolk mixture by pouring about 1/4 of a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Make sure to stir constantly as you do this to prevent the hot liquid from cooking the yolks.

3. Pour the yolk mixture back into the sauce pan and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until thermometer reaches 185 degrees, or is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. (make sure not to boil the milk during this process)

4. When the custard is ready, strain over the heavy cream and then gently stir the heavy cream and custard (make sure no water from the ice bath gets into this mixture, otherwise ice crystals will form in your frozen gelato).

5. Mix together the lemon juice and blackberry puree and then pour into the custard set over the ice bath. Stir occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the custard has cooled.

6. After the gelato base has cooled completely, pour into an airtight container or cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

7. After it has chilled, freeze the custard according to your machines specifications.