Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bacon Ice Cream

Val and I went on this scrumptious chocolate tour of the LES in the fall.  We stopped at a few really great places, and I came to find out that Dessert Truck has its own STORE FRONT.  How I did not know this sooner is beyond me, but let's just cut to the point.  Dessert Truck had a yummy bread pudding.  On top of that bread pudding was a BACON CUSTARD.  Yes, Bacon.  At first, it sounds gross.  But when you taste it, it has a familiar, homey, sunday morning with pancakes and maple syrup type taste.  The bacon was sweet and complemented the bread pudding sooo amazingly.

So then the wheels in my head stomache started turning.  Cream Anglaise, or custard, is so similar to the batter I make for ice cream.  I COULD TURN THIS INTO ICE CREAM! OMFG.  So then I started discussing with the tour guide as to how would be the best way to do this.

The tour guide suggested rendering the bacon fat, and using that in place of the vanilla in the custard.  Done.

I looked up a recipe for custard, but decided I wanted to try it first with Philly style ice cream (i.e. no eggs, i.e. less cook time). And in case the recipe was a disastor, I would not have wasted 6 egg yolks!

Basically follow the recipe for Philadelphia Style Ice Cream here (omit the extracts and the oreo cookies though).  The only other ingredient you will need is applewood smoked bacon.  Fry a few pieces in a skillet until you can eyeball about 1-2 tsp. of rendered fat.  This is your makeshift "vanilla extract".

Prepare the ice cream as my prior recipe follows and swap out the extracts for this rendered bacon fat.  Make sure you whisk it well and good so that everything gets incorporated.  You will need to chill this mixture overnight.  Give it a good stir again before putting it in the ice cream machine, and let it freeze in the freezer for a little while before serving. 

This recipe didn't quite cut it for me, so I went to do more research.  I think the problem was that I needed those egg yolks to help with the freezing/fat content of the ice cream.  Oh well.  Luckily, everything is available online these days so I was able to find the actual recipe for the Bacon Cream Anglaise that Dessert Truck uses!

Bacon Cream Anglaise / Ice Cream, recipe adapted from the Dessert Truck

Makes a little less than 1 quart

The original recipe is for Cream anglaise - so the last few steps of chilling it in the fridge are the additional steps I took to make it into ice cream instead of cream anglaise.

  • 4 strips of bacon (I used the applewood smoked bacon)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 75 grams of sugar, or 2.23 ounces...which I measured out to be about 1/4 cup (2 ounces / 8 ounces)
  • 100 grams egg yolks (wtf? grams again! I eye-balled what looked like just under 1/2 cup of egg yolks)
Cook the bacon in a skillet until it is well caramalized.  In a small pot, bring the half and half to a boil.  Add the strips of cooked bacon to the pot (try to get rid of all excess fat and grease - I squeezed mine out on some paper towels).  Let this infuse for some time - the original recipe says 15 minutes, but I think I let mine sit for about 30 minutes. 

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and water and putting a smaller bowl in it.  Add sugar to the half and half mixture.  In another bowl, add the egg yolks.  Pour about half of the warmed mixture over the yolks, whisking continously.  Pour back into the original half and half pot. 

Continously stir the custard over medium-high heat with a wooden spoon.  You will know it is done when you conduct the difficult test of running your finger across the back of the spoon.  If the swipe is clean, you are good to go.  If not, keep going at it. 

Strain the custard over the bowl that is in ice water and let it cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate until cold.  The original recipe says to use the cream anglaise in the next 3 days - but I churned mine the next day. 

You can do what I did and serve it with something deliciously chocolatey.  For example, I made some brownies from a recipe I found here.  And this pairing was fantastic!

Ending Notes:  The first ice cream had a soft-serve consistency, it didn't quite freeze as normal ice cream would.  I'm assuming this is because I probably put in too much bacon fat and it affected the freezing temperature.  However the taste was something like "okay...I've had this before...but what exactly is it?"

The second ice cream was much creamier, obviously, because it was essentially a cream.  I totally loved the infusion of the bacon - the flavor wasn't too strong, more like, "oops I ate a piece of bacon while eating my pancakes" (hmm...that leads me to want to make that kind of ice cream flavor).  Taste testers first guessed that it was butterscotch, or something with bacon in it, not just bacon.  It's not ice cream I would eat out of the carton while watching tv, but I would definitely serve it with something rich, warm and chocolatey.  Taste testers agreed, "I really liked the bacon, but not necessarily in the oh, I'm craving ice cream, kind of way.  I'd like to try it with a piece of warm cornbread or something".

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