I was reminded when I was driving Sonny to school (not that I really forgot; I mean, who forgets a “holiday” centered around drinking beer?). Sonny also caught the radio DJ saying something about it. I heard his sad voice from the backseat, “You forgot to tell me to wear green and I will be the only one at school not wearing green.” He sounded so heartbroken, which in turn broke my heart. I assured him not everyone would be wearing green. Then I pointed out that his scarf has green and his pillow and blanket are green. But he didn’t look like he was really buying it, and it was too late to run back home. And sure enough, when we walked into class, everybody was wearing something green. Man, did I feel like a jerk. Luckily, one of the teachers saved the day by suggesting Sonny cut out a large green shamrock to pin to his shirt. But I still felt like a jerk. As soon as I got home, I started on a batch of mint and lemongrass green tea ice cream. Yes, I’m the type of mother who shows love through food. And yes, I know what current conventional parenting wisdom says about that, with childhood obesity and all, but I really don’t care.
The first time I tried making ice cream with my new ice cream maker, I used a recipe that made like 3 or 4 quarts. Not only was it a logistical nightmare because I only have one freezer bowl, but the texture was not smooth and creamy enough. Subsequent attempts with different recipes turned out alright flavorwise, but they left me searching for better texture. I think my search is finally over.
Now, about the ice cream: it’s basically a vanilla ice cream infused with tea. The vanilla ice cream comes from Maida Heatter’s Cakes. There are two things I like about this recipe: the texture is right on, and the final amount is about 1 ½ pints, which happens to be the perfect amount for 3 or 4 people. For the tea, you can choose any good cream and sugar tea. The tea I chose has a hint of lemongrass and mint. I used 5 tea bags so the ice cream is sufficiently flavored of green tea, but I only wish the lemongrass and mint were a little more prevalent. Next time I’ll trying infusing with an extra stalk of lemongrass and crushed, fresh mint. Still, an excellent result that was a hit all around.
Green Tea Ice Cream
makes about 1 1/2 pints
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 5 green tea bags (Thai tea also works very well)
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ granulated sugar
- seeds scraped from one vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes or so. Gradually add in the sugar and beat for another 2 or 3 minutes on high, until the sugar is well incorporated into the egg. With all this beating, make sure to scrape down the sides occasionally to ensure everything is well incorporated and you don't lose half the stuff on the sides of the bowl.
Remove the tea bags from the cream and discard them. Be sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the bags. Slowly add the cream to the eggs while mixing vigorously. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook the custard until a candy thermometer reaches about 175˚. Make sure you are stirring frequently and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula, especially as it reaches the target. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’ll know it’s done when it gets thick and coats the back of your utensil without dripping off. (If the custard starts to stick to the bottom like it’s about to scramble, you’ve overshot, and it's definitely done. But don’t throw in the towel just yet. You may be able to salvage it if you haven’t grossly overshot.)
Once you remove the custard from the heat, add the remaining cup of cream (and vanilla extract, if using) while mixing well. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a large, clean bowl. Don’t press the debris through the sieve. Anything that doesn’t go through by gravity is not meant to go in the ice cream. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (longer is better) before churning. I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker (model ICE-BC; thanks Bedstemor and Bedstefar!) and it took about 25 minutes to get it to be the consistency of soft serve. I froze it for an additional 3 hours before serving. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for churning and freezing.
If this ice cream has piqued your interest, may I suggest trying Thai tea crème brulee? It’s delicious and creamy-smooth. I promise you’ll love it.