Monday, April 12, 2010

Stroke of Genius

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a post, for a few reasons. Firstly, my camera has been elsewhere, which really put a damper on my posting possibilities. Also, I have been relatively busy outside of work. Mostly, though, I haven’t posted in a while because I didn’t really have anything worthy of posting.

As I mentioned before, Jianken is in the midst of trying to update their menus, which are in great need of an update. My goal for the dessert portion of the menu is to make it one that has more to do with sushi and Asian cuisine. For the past few months, I have been playing with new ideas and flavors that might fit the new menu, but lately it’s felt like I’ve hit a wall: redundancy. I need a new flavor; a new idea; a new technique. Something. That’s when the light bulb went off:

Calpico ice cream. The girlfriend and I were cleaning out our fridge at home and discovered that there was a bottle sitting in there from a visit to the Asian market. For those who have never tried Calpico, also known as Calpis, it is a non-carbonated soft drink that is made from fermented dry milk. It is sweet and tangy like yogurt, but with its own distinctive flavor. What is even better is that Calpis is a uniquely Japanese product. It was first produced in 1919, and gained wide popularity because in its concentrated form it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Calpis is as prevalent in Japan as Coke, or Kool-aide is in the US.

At first, I planned on making a Calpis sorbet. I have seen it as a shaved ice flavor, and figured that sorbet would be the next logical step, but I found that in order to keep the sorbet smooth once churned, the product had to be cloyingly sweet. It needed some fat to tone down the harshness of the calpis.

What I ended up with is technically an ice-milk. Ice-milk (at least how I define it), is a frozen dessert that is churned like ice cream or sorbet, but unlike ice cream, it contains no eggs and is thus not a custard. Ice-milk should ideally be less than 10% total milk fat. It has a texture that is more similar to sherbet or sorbet than ice cream. The crème fraiche in the recipe rounds out the flavor a bit more.

Calpis Ice Milk

Yield: ~ 1 liter

75g Sugar

50g Glucose powder*

550g Milk

250g Calpis

140g Crème Fraiche

2sht Gelatin°

*Glucose powder can be substituted for an equal amount of regular sugar with similar results

°Gelatin is optional

1) Combine Sugar, glucose powder (see note), and 100g milk in a small sauce pot and heat until sugar is dissolved and the milk is starting to steam.

2) Hydrate gelatin, squeeze out the excess water, and add to milk mixture.

3) Combine the remaining ingredients and homogenize with an immersion blender or wisk

4) Allow to cool for at least 4 hours in the fridge before

5) Process in ice cream according to manufacturers’ instructions

6) Allow to harden in freezer for at least 2 hours

I have found that I like the combination of bitter and acid, so I tend to pair things like dark chocolate and oranges, so it seemed natural to pair this with bitter matcha. Matcha rice pudding, Calpis ice-milk, and stewed cherries with brandy. Of course, its not cherry season, or they would be fresh cherries, but I did find a frozen product that was still remarkably sweet and full-flavored.

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