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Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

August 8, 2010

Scooping up some Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

Looking back at my last several posts, I’m noticing a trend toward decidedly healthy recipes – chickpeas galore (marinated and in hummus), heavy-duty whole grains, and of course, granola bars.  But before you start thinking that this is turning into some sort of health-food blog, I bring you Exhibit A [above]: an unabashedly full-fat treat, ridden with sugar and other delicious, though nutritionally questionable ingredients.  Moderation certainly has it’s merit, but sometimes there’s no substitute for the untethered, no holds barred, real thing.  In this case, that thing is ice cream.

You may remember my initial ice cream experiments last summer, while Quincy and I were spending The Rainiest June On Record on Cape Cod, re-grouping after college graduation.  During those days, a garden full of mint and some leftover dark rum from a weekend of Dark and Stormies, prompted two tasty flavors – mint chocolate chip and an extra boozy, brown-sugar rum raisin.  Sure these first experiments yielded tasty results, but the real take-away was this: ice cream makes an ideal blank canvas for a multitude of usual and unusual flavors.  Whether you infuse the hot milk or cream with a flavoring agent (anything from vanilla beans to Earl Grey tea to cardamom pods or fresh basil), or add combination of ‘mix-ins’ (fruits, nuts/nut butters, candy, chocolate, or anything else you can think of) to the churned custard just before freezing, you’ll have a custom product tailored to your taste.

With cool beverages of S.E. Asia fresh in my mind, a Thai Iced Tea variation seemed like a good place to continue where last summer’s ice cream experiments left off. Traditionally brewed in a cloth tea “sock,”sweetened heavily, and served over lots of iced with a hefty shot of sweetened condensed milk, this almost unnaturally orange beverage can be found at street carts all over Bangkok and most likely, at your local Thai restaurant. Already rich, sweet, and creamy and made with sugar and milk, this beverage translated perfectly into ice cream. By infusing the milk with Thai tea before making/freezing the custard, and substituting part of the cream for sweetened condensed milk, I got an ice cream that is literally Thai Iced Tea reincarnated.

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

Thai Tea Ice Cream
adapted from from UseRealButter.com

1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Thai tea leaves or ‘dust’ (can be purchased dry in many Asian grocery stores)
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream

Pour the milk into a saucepan and warm over medium heat until just simmering. Pour the dry  Thai Tea into the pan, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain infused milk through a fine sieve or Thai tea sock. [Alternatively, you could use a French press to infuse the milk, then pour the infused milk back into the pan – I didn’t have any problem with the teeny-tiny bit of tea sediment not strained by the press, but if it irks you, go with the fine sieve/tea sock method.]

Combine the tea-infused milk, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar in a saucepan and heat over a medium flame until steaming ( but not boiling), stirring a bit at first to encourage the sugar to dissolve. While the milk heats, whisk the egg yolks together in a glass/ceramic bowl, large enough to accommodate all of the hot milk mixture.

When the milk has come up to temperature, spoon a tiny bit of the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly – you are aiming to ‘temper’ the yolks so they don’t scramble as you proceed. Continue adding the hot liquid to the egg yolks gradually until all of the liquid is incorporated. Pour the liquid from the bowl back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring with a spoon/spatula until it begins to thicken – it is done when the mixture coats the back of a spoon (‘a la nappe,’ as they say en Francais). Strain the mixture (if you’re worried about renegade custard clumps) into a bowl.

Add the cream to the custard mixture and cool completely in the refrigerator (ideally overnight) before processing in your ice cream maker.

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

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