My new toy is still new and exciting, so despite the cold winter weather (hey, 40 degree weather is cold for Florida!), I can’t help but make ice cream again this week. Last week’s ice cream was a bit too rich for my wife’s tastes (but spot on for me!), so I thought I owed her a lighter ice cream more tuned to her liking. I went with her favorite fruit: mango.
With mango as the base flavor, I wanted to dress it up with some other subtle Indian flavors to have a really lively ice cream. So I started with a creamy mango custard and infused it with cardamom and rose water (never used it? It’s just what it sounds like–water flavored with roses, as in flowers!) for sweet, floral flavors that are very harmonious next to the buttery, sweet, almost peachy flavor of fresh mangoes. I like my ice cream to have some additional texture though, so I coarsely sliced another mango, lightly caramelized it, and mixed that in along with some roasted pistachios.
The result was delicious. The ice cream was a bit firmer than the caramelized pear ice cream, but lighter and still delectably creamy, sweet, and most importantly, awesome. It had a very distinct but delicate mango flavor. The cardamom, an ingredient that could risk overwhelming a delicate dish such as this, was surprisingly tame, and combined with the rose water, lent a really interesting floral aroma and aftertaste to the ice cream. The pistachios and slices of caramelized mango were also a nice textural component and a great contrast to the more delicate flavors of the custard.
The first bowl was empty in no time and ready for seconds. The third bowl was proclaimed the best ice cream ever. If this trend continues, well, who knows! You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!
- 2.5 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1.25 cups sugar
- 3 large mangoes
- juice of 1 lime
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 cardamom pods
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp rosewater
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup pistachios
Before you do anything, ensure you give yourself ample time (e.g. you put the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer for at least 24 hours before use). Then, peel two of the mangoes and pit them. Don’t worry about clean cuts or anything–you’re going to puree the flesh, so whatever it looks like can be our little secret. Also slice a lime.
Now let’s get moving on the custard. In a saucepan, scald the whole milk (so like medium heat–don’t boil it!) with the cardamom pods in the mix to give them a chance to steep and infuse their flavors into the milk. While that’s going, beat the egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until thicker and well mixed. Off to the side, set up an ice bath (like 1 cup of water will do with some ice cubes) in a large bowl and float a slightly smaller bowl inside. Pour the cream in this bowl and mix in the vanilla extract, rose water, and salt.
Once the milk is done warming up, temper the yolks with a spoonful of the hot milk and keep whisking the yolks. Repeat this and then transfer the now happy yolk mixture into the hot milk saucepan. Put this back on the heat (no warmer than medium) and do not stop stirring. Once the mixture thickens up a little bit and bubbles start to form around the edges, get this off of the heat. Set up a strainer over the ice bathing bowl of cream and pour the hot mixture through the strainer (to catch any scrambled yolks). Stir this all together well.
Finally, in a food processor/blender, juice the lime and puree the mangoes finely. You don’t want any fibrous chunks or anything like that (you can use a coarse strainer, but I didn’t bother–mango puree is kind of thick).
Pour the puree into the custard batter and stir it together. You want a fairly homogenous, creamy mixture.
Things should take on a nice orange color. Fish the cardamom pods out of your strainer and put them in your pristine custard. Seal this (plastic wrap will do fine) and let it sit in the fridge for about 8 hours so all of the flavors can get to know one another well. When you take this out later, don’t forget to remove those cardamom pods! They’re good for flavor but not for chewing straight up.
So while you wait on that, on to the non-custard part of the dish. Begin by shelling the pistachios. For what its worth, I’d consider using more (maybe double) in the next batch of this I whip together. Blitz the pistachios in a food processor to chop them up a little finer, but not down to powder.
Peel the remaining mango, pit it, and slice clean, long, somewhat thick strips of flesh. Cut these in half so you have good-sized, but still easily bite-sized chunks. In a saucepan, caramelize 1/4 cup of sugar on high heat. Once the sugar has almost completely melted down, carefully place the mango pieces into the caramel (don’t get burned!) and lower the heat to medium. Take this off of the heat within five minutes–the idea is to just soften the mango slices up a bit and to infuse a more complex mango flavor on top of the mango flavor that will be so prevalent in the custard.
Mix the caramelized mango and pistachios together and set this aside in the fridge.
Once 8 hours have passed, assemble your ice cream maker and get it going. Take the custard out of the fridge, fish out the cardamom pods, and pour this into the machine. Let this churn for just shy of 20 minutes. Then add in the caramelized mango/pistachio mixture and let it churn for another minute or two. Transfer this to an airtight container and get it in the freezer for at least 4 hours (ideally more).
And finally, the best part is here: scoop out a bowl and enjoy!