Caramelised White Chocolate Ice Cream with Ground Cardamom

You know how in science class you learn that matter has 3 states, and then you go into higher education and you learn that there are more states like plasma and Bose-Einstein condensates? Yeah this is the fourth state of chocolate.

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Don’t mind that crummy looking bowl. Apparently also known as the “toffee of milk”, caramelised white chocolate has an additional dimension of depth compared to regular white chocolate. It’s sweeter, creamier, and as the name suggests, it has caramel notes to it as well.

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I first heard about caramelised white chocolate when I went to Copenhagen, and the Summerbird chocolate store was giving out free samples (the way to my heart). And their most popular product was amber chocolate, which was basically caramelised white chocolate, but they managed to temper it to perfection. Perfectly snappy at room temperature, but melts in your mouth to coat your tongue with a layer of creamy caramel chocolate.

Caramelised White Chocolate Ice Cream with Cardamom

And then adding in the ground cardamom gives a little more aroma to the ice cream. Also I suck at scooping ice cream so here’s a lovely picture of some half-melted ice cream drowning in sauce:

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The salt is not optional. Helps cut through the sweetness and makes the whole thing a little more interesting.

I used David Lebovitz’s recipes for caramelised white chocolate ice cream and caramelised white chocolate, and just added cardamom.

Ingredients

Caramelised white chocolate

  • 120g white chocolate (see notes)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Ice cream

  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 50g sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 125ml heavy cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Method

Caramelised white chocolate

  1. Chop the white chocolate into coarse pieces, and place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 130°C for 10 mins.
  2. Take the baking sheet out and spread the white chocolate with a spatula until the chocolate is smoothed out.
  3. Put the white chocolate back in the oven and bake for another 10 mins, stirring the chocolate at 10 min intervals. Repeat until the white chocolate is a deep golden-brown colour.
  4. Stir in a pinch of sea salt and set the chocolate aside.

Ice cream

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the yolks, sugar, and salt until well combined.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and cardamom until warm.
  3. Add half of the cream and milk into the egg yolks and whisk. Then add the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Heat over low-medium heat, stirring continuously. Heat until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  5. Meanwhile, ensure the caramelised white chocolate is warm (like just microwave it for 5-10s bursts, stirring well between bursts) and place a strainer over a bowl containing the white chocolate.
  6. When the ice cream custard is ready, pour the custard through the strainer into the white chocolate and stir until smooth.
  7. Refrigerate the ice cream overnight.
  8. The next day, churn the ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine until desired consistency.
  9. Freeze the ice cream until it’s a scoopable consistency. Serve with some flaky sea salt.
  10. Optional: I served my ice cream with some extra caramelised white chocolate mixed with cream to make a ganache.

Notes

  • When caramelising the white chocolate, the chocolate may sometimes appear lumpy. But don’t worry just keep mixing the chocolate and it will eventually smooth out.
  • If you’re rich and don’t want to make caramelised white chocolate, Valrhona sells some blonde chocolate which is the same thing.
  • For best results, use white chocolate with at least 30% cocoa butter. And use real white chocolate (with actual cocoa butter), check the ingredients list.
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Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Custard Filling

It’s time for some oozy-gooey-flowy matcha.

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Ok so some people seem to get disgusted by the idea of a green sticky filling. Reminds them of snot or something. Well it’s time to open your mind and broaden your horizons because there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore. And some of that world consists of green custard, alright?

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The green custard is restrained by charcoal bread, which colour is more for dramatic effect rather than any health benefits, really. Charcoal powder is used quite commonly in Asian baking. I’ve used it before in my Charcoal Bread with Salted Egg Yolk Filling, but this time I’m going to be using a different recipe which I think yields a softer bun.

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Get some dramatic sunrise lighting on those buns.

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Filling

If your ability to wrap a filling is better than mine, you’ll probably end up with more custard in your buns. And for those that haven’t eaten matcha before it’s like ground-up green tea, also commonly used in Asian cooking. It kinda has a mildly bitter, earthy taste, but I think it complements sweet things really well.

I used my standard Asian-style bread recipe originally used here, and just adjusted for the charcoal powder. I got the recipe for the filling from here.

Ingredients (makes about 12 buns)

Green Tea Custard

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g flour
  • 10g matcha powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 300g bread flour (2 1/2 cup minus about a tbsp)
  • 14g charcoal powder
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)

Method

Matcha Custard

  1. In a pot, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, flour, and green tea powder.
  2. Add in the milk and set over medium-high heat. Heat until the custard thickens, stirring continuously.
  3. When the custard is thick enough that when you dribble a bit back in the dribble briefly retains its shape, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Divide up the custard into tbsp-sized portions and place on a lined baking sheet (making sure you have at least 12 portions, or however many buns you want to make). Freeze until solid.

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, charcoal powder, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and roll flat.
  5. Place a tbsp of the frozen matcha custard in the middle of the dough disc, and wrap the dough around the custard well, making sure to seal tightly.
  6. Let the buns rise until doubled in size, about 1.5h.
  7. After doubled in size, brush the tops of the buns with some oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
  8. Bake at 200ºC for 15-17 mins.

Notes

  • The frozen custard dough will retard the second rise of the dough, take that into consideration when planning the bake.
  • It can be difficult to judge when the bread is done since it is so dark, I just judged it by smell.
  • The times given for proofing the dough are a rough guide, since it is very dependent on temperature. Follow the visual cues (ie doubled in size) rather than the exact timing.
  • You have to use ground up matcha powder don’t use green tea leaves.
  • Make sure to seal the buns well!! The custard is super gooey and will seep out of any holes you’ve missed.
  • Use vanilla essence/extract whichever you prefer.

Honey Mustard Ice Cream with Mini Pretzels

Hear me out here.

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It’s weirdly good. It’s like a creamy honey mustard dressing…but solid.

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And it goes so well with mini pretzels! That crunch. And it goes with the general savouriness of the ice cream.

I got the original idea while watching an episode of Good Mythical Morning and they loved mustard ice cream. Next time I want to actually get some sausages and eat them with the ice cream. Gotta go all out.

Mustard Ice Cream Honey Pretzel

And the finishing touch is a light sprinkling of salt to contrast with the mild sweetness of the ice cream.

I got the recipe from here but converted everything to grams and converted half-and-half to cream and milk since it’s kind of hard to find half-and-half in the UK.

Ingredients

  • 25g sugar (1/8 cup)
  • 43g honey (1/8 cup)
  • Pinch of turmeric (optional, for colour)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 90g double cream
  • 268g whole milk (or you can substitute the cream and milk for 358g/1.5 cups half-and-half)
  • 1-2 tbsp whole grain mustard (depending on strength of mustard and your preferences)
  • About 150g salted mini pretzels, toasted
  • Some flaky sea salt

Method

  1. Mix the sugar, honey, turmeric, and egg yolks together in a saucepan.
  2. Add the cream and milk into the saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture is thickened and coats the back of your spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  3. Transfer to a container and chill overnight.
  4. Meanwhile, chop 3/4 of the pretzels into pieces (halves to quarters). Freeze the pretzel pieces.
  5. The next morning, before churning the ice cream, mix in the mustard to the ice cream mixture.
  6. Churn the ice cream mixture in an ice cream machine until desired consistency.
  7. When the ice cream is ready, scoop the ice cream into a container and scatter in some chopped frozen pretzel pieces.
  8. Top with the remaining toasted pretzels and sea salt.

Notes

  • The turmeric’s just for colour. Don’t actually add enough such that you’ll be able to taste the turmeric. I wanted the ice cream to actually be yellow, there’s no need for subtlety when it comes to mustard ice cream.
  • Freezing the pretzel pieces will help in stopping the pieces from getting soggy (hopefully).

Roasted Pork Belly Bao

I impulse-bought a steamer and it’s finally time to use it.

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The bao (buns) here are more like sliders rather than the enclosed packages you’ll see more often in dim sum restaurants. In this recipe roasted pork belly is used, rather than the fattier, softer braised pork belly which I usually get in Singapore (kong bak bao/扣肉包). Still tasty! Just in a different way.

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I thought this was a really good recipe for bao and will definitely use it again for future attempts. So soft! So tender! So fluffy!

I think this was because of the almost scary amounts of animal fat that went into the buns. Sorry, vegetarians. I’m sure you all can use shortening or something instead.

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My balls of dough with the marginalised runt of the litter.

pork belly bao process

And here’s a picture of a lonely bao getting shaped.

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And then after you steam the buns any small imperfections you make disappear as they poof up to steamy, fluffy goodness.

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I guess bao are kind of like Asian burgers? In that they’re both carbohydrate vehicles of fillings which common destination is your mouth. Except bao’s steamed.

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Garnish with some slightly crunchy cucumber pickles to lighten up the flavour (and provide some greens for your diet you unhealthy pig). Usually I eat these types of buns with some Chinese cabbage (生菜) or pickled vegetables (梅菜) but cucumbers are a lot easier to come by in London. The sweetness of the hoisin sauce and the savouriness of the scallions also complements the salty-sweet umami of the pork belly to deliver one heck of a fat-filled bite-sized package to your mouth.

Pork Belly Buns Bao (2)

Pork Belly Buns Bao (1)

I got the recipe from from here, which adapted the recipe from the Momofuku cookbook, which y’know, is famous for their pork bao. The recipe was a little lacking though – should definitely have read the comments before starting. For one thing the pork belly turned out wayyy too salty. Turns out you’re supposed to wash the brine off the meat first before you roast it.

Also, David Chang (of Momofuku) later posted the pork belly recipe on lucky peach with DIFFERENT TIMINGS. WHO DO I TRUST. Ended up listing temperatures and timings somewhere in the middle below, but go with your gut man.

In the recipe below I also changed when to add the fat into the bao (see notes), and made the cucumber pickle more sweet because again, I thought it was too salty. I also converted some of the ingredients to grams.

Ingredients

Pork belly (makes 12 portions, each portion being a palm sized bao)

  • 6 pieces sliced skinless pork belly, about 600g in total
  • 1/8 cup salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Some freshly ground black pepper

Steamed buns (makes about 22, halve if you want to have the exact(ish) number of buns but they freeze easily and it’s difficult to halve this recipe due to the tiny amounts of some ingredients so I made the full 22)

  • 6g yeast (about 1/2 tbsp)
  • 270g bread flour (about 2 cups)
  • 38g sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp skimmed dry milk powder
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 rounded tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 177g water (about 3/4 cups)
  • 40g rendered pork fat/shortening/oil in the liquid state, room/body temperature (see notes)
  • Vegetable oil to oil surfaces

To assemble

  • Hoisin sauce (you use about 2 tsp per bao so 24 tsp I guess?)
  • About 6 stalks scallions, cut diagonally for a e s t h e t i c s
  • 1 long cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices (yes, I know that the cucumber in my pictures are a lot thicker than that but I don’t have a mandolin give me a break)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp salt

Method

Pork belly

  1. Place the pork belly in a roasting pan that holds it snugly, fat side up.
  2. In a bowl, combine the salt and sugar. Rub the mixture all over the pork. Grind some black pepper all over the pork and rub that in too.
  3. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (no longer than 24h).
  4. The next morning (or whatever), preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  5. Discard any liquid that has accumulated in the pan. Give the meat a wash to get rid of the excess salt.
  6. Place the meat back in the pan, making sure the meat fits snugly. It’s important that it’s snug so it stays moist (I think)! Use a ramekin or some other oven-safe thing to crowd the pork belly if your pan is too big.
  7. Put the pork belly in the oven for about 40 mins, basting it with the rendered fat halfway through, until the meat is golden brown.
  8. Turn the oven temperature down to 120°C (250°F) and cook until pork is tender, about an hour more.
  9. Let the pork belly cool to room temperature before wrapping it tightly in cling film and refrigerating it, so it’s easier to cut to size.
  10. To reheat the pork belly, brown it again in oil or warm it up in a little water in a covered pan.

Steamed buns

  1. Stir together the yeast, flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add in 177g of water and knead until soft and elastic.
  2. Add in the fat and knead the fat into the dough. It might seem like too much fat at first but woah let me tell you dough can really tolerate a lot of fat. Makes you think about how much fat is in the bread you usually eat. Fat.
  3. Knead until the dough is super soft and elastic. Then cover with clingfilm and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour 15 mins.
  4. When the dough is doubled in size, punch the dough down. Weigh out 25g portions of dough and shape each portion into a ball. Set each portion down on an oiled baking sheet.
  5. Cover the balls with oiled cling film and let them rise for 30 mins. While they are rising, cut out 22 pieces (or however many dough balls you got) of 10x10cm (or 4″) squares of baking paper.
  6. After 30 mins, use an oiled rolling pin to roll each ball into a 10cm long oval (or 4″, you don’t have to be too exact).
  7. Brush the top lightly with some vegetable oil, and place an oiled chopstick horizontally across the centre of the oval. Fold the oval over itself to form a bun. Gently pull out the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and transfer the bun to a square of baking paper (see notes about giving your buns an overbite).
  8. Cover the buns with oiled clingfilm and let them rest for 45 mins.
  9. Set a steamer on top of a saucepan of water at a rolling boil. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 mins.
  10. To freeze the buns, allow them to cool to room temperature and freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat them in a steamer for 2-3 mins until warmed all the way through.

To assemble

  1. To make a quick cucumber pickle, combine the sliced cucumbers with 3 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Let it sit for 5-10 mins. Before use, dab the cucumber slices on some paper towels to get rid of some excess fluid.
  2. Open a warm bun and spread about 2 tsp of hoisin sauce on the inside (see notes).
  3. Add a piece of pork belly, a couple of slices of cucumber pickle, and some sliced scallions.

Notes

  • I kneaded the fat into the dough after kneading the flour and water together (as compared to the original recipe which just kneads everything together in one step) because I found that doing it this way usually results in softer, fluffier bread (or in this case bao).
  • I definitely did not get enough rendered fat out of the pork belly to put in the bao as some iterations of this recipe claimed to be able to achieve, so I’d suggest buying some lard or shortening to top up. I got about 10g of rendered fat, and topped up with some tallow and rendered lamb fat that my housemate had lying around in the fridge, as well as some vegetable oil. Make sure to melt your fat down to liquid first, and cool to body temperature before using in your bao.
  • I found that when shaping the bao it might be better to give the bao a bit of an overbite (ie the top half hanging over the bottom like this) just so it can stretch over your fillings better at the end.
  • If, like me, you have a bit of a sweet tooth (or if your pork belly turns out too salty) mix some honey into your hoisin sauce to spread on the bun.
  • I think my pork belly turned out a little too black so I’ve reduced the timings listed in the recipe above (probably because I’m using less meat and my pork belly was already sliced).
  • Overall though I still prefer steamed baos with braised pork belly rather than roasted pork belly. I subsequently made a batch of braised pork belly with this recipe and was really pleased with how it tasted with the bao. Here’s a pic (I ate it with some shiitake mushrooms that were stewing together with the pork).

Braised Pork Bun Bao

Gum Mastic, Cardamom, Rosewater, and Pistachio Ice Cream

The recipe that required the most amount of specialised ingredients.

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Gum mastic is used in Eastern Mediterranean cooking. Honestly I have no idea how I even came across it. I opened up my folder of bookmarked ice cream flavours and there it was. My Greek friend got really excited about this, he said that there’s an old wives’ tale about mastica being the cure to everything (cue long-suffering eye-roll from said friend).

And sorry I can’t really describe its taste either. It brings more of an aromatic component to me rather than a taste. Some say that it smells like pine trees, but I’ve never smelt a pine tree before…

And cardamom also smells really good. Like a really classy scented candle. That you want to eat. Basically I kept smelling this ice cream throughout.

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The ice cream is based off an eggless custard – my first recipe without eggs! This meant that I could be less careful about watching the temperature of the custard, since overheating an egg-based custard can result in a bit of a sulfurous smell and taste (ie like eating farts, yummy).

And I thought this ice cream froze pretty well! Didn’t get as icy as some of my previous ice cream attempts.

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Unfortunately you do need an ice cream maker for this recipe, although I’m sure you can use one of the many ways out there to adapt the recipe.

Gum Mastic, Cardamom, Rosewater, and Pistachio Ice Cream

I don’t know why one of the scoops looks more yellow than the other, but it’s okay I accept you for who you are.

I got the recipe from here and used ground cinnamon instead of a cinnamon stick.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole green cardamoms
  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 100ml rose water
  • 1 teaspoon gum mastic crystals, crushed with 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 200ml evaporated milk
  • Handful of toasted pistachios to top, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Crush the whole cardamoms in a pestle and mortar (or get your housemate to crush it in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin, because you’re lazy like that). Take out the pods leaving the seeds then pound the seeds to a fine powder.
  2. Place the milk and double cream in a saucepan, and add the ground cardamom and cinnamon. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter to a rich creamy colour (it takes about half an hour).
  3. Place the sugar and rose water in another saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a low heat until it becomes a thin syrup. Remove from the heat and cool.
  4. When the milk and cream are ready, remove from the heat and stir in the crushed gum mastic. Cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Sieve the liquid. Add the evaporated milk to the sieved liquid and combine with the rose water syrup. Cool and chill.
  6. Churn in an ice-cream machine until desired consistency.
  7. If you want a scoopable consistency rather than a soft-serve consistency, chill the ice cream down in the freezer overnight.
  8. Top with toasted pistachios.

Notes

  • I’d suggest going light on the gum mastic especially if you’re not used to the flavour because it can be quite strong.
  • To me the pistachio was really crucial in bringing this recipe together. Brought some textural variation, and its nuttiness also complemented the sort of organic(?) taste of the mastic.