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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Green Tea Ice Cream

Green tea  ice cream has a very distinctive flavor which, after trying it once, is very easily recognizable. Where does this flavor come from? This flavor is from the "matcha" (green tea powder) used give it the green tea flavor. Of course there is a special process for matcha teas.

The process is begun weeks before the tea leaves are harvested. A couple weeks before the tea bushes are harvested, they are covered to prevent direct sunlight to the plants. This slows down the growth of the plants and makes them turn a darker shade. In result of this change, the plants start to produce amino acids, which gives it the sweetness we all recognize. The leaves are then harvested, laid flat to dry, de-veined, de-stemmed, and ground to a very fine powder, which we know as matcha powder. In modern days, this powder is not only used to make tea, but to make "soba" noodles, green tea ice cream and various Japanese confectioneries.

This product is more and more popular and found in many of the big supermarkets. When incorporated in this ice cream recipe, the vivid green color is always a show stopper. Here's how you can make your own.

(Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)

- 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
- 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream (whipping cream)
- 4 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder)
- 6 large egg YOLKS

- Walk the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and whist in the green tea powder. Set a mesh strainer on top. At this point the cream will still be a very light color, as for the green tea does not dissolve in the cold cream.

- In a separate medium bowl, whist together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warm egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.

- Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream, then whisk it vigorously until the custard is frothy to dissolve the green tea powder. Notice that once the hot custard is mixed into the cream, the tea begins to dissolves and the mixture takes on a darker green color. Stir until cool, over ice bath.

- Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once the desired thickness is reached, it is ready (20 to 30 minutes).

If you want a firmer product, remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker's bowl. Do this carefully with a silicone spatula, to not damage the coating found inside the bowl of the machine. Place the finished ice cream in a plastic container with a lid and place in the your freezer for a couple hours for optimal results.

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