Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Avocado Ice Cream

Important ingredients
This past weekend we packed up for another informal weekend at the family beach house, this time to celebrate Dear Spouse's (DS's) birthday. As usual, much food was brought down, recipes shared, and a good time was had by all.

Dear Spouse loves to tinker in the kitchen as much as Lexi and myself do, and this weekend he wanted to try his hand at making avocado ice cream. DS and I first sampled this treat several years ago on a vacation to Morro Bay. Our trip just happened to coincide with their annual Avocado & Margarita Festival, so we popped on down to the waterfront to check it out. Many of the local restaurants had booths open where we could nibble on nummies created using avocados as a prominent ingredient: that year we tasted shrimp and avocado cocktail, several kinds of sushi, and a delightful ceviche. But far and away our favorite was the avocado ice cream, made by the talented chefs at Windows on the Water. DS was so enamored of the creamy, honey-laden goodness that he nicked a margarita cup and went back to exchange enough booth tickets to fill it with ice cream. He's been wanting to try the recipe himself ever since.

So this past week found DS contacting our friends to find an ice cream maker or two. As luck would have it, one of our friends loaned us an ice cream bowl and paddle attachment for my trusty dusty antique KitchenAid mixer, and another managed to dig up an old-fashioned bucket-style electric ice cream maker from the early 1980's. As luck would also have it, avocados happened to go on sale this week. So we stocked up, DS did some recipe research, and we headed off to the beach house, avocados and ice cream makers in hand.

Here's what DS came up with.

INGREDIENTS (will make approximately 1 gallon of ice cream)
8 ripe avocados
1 qt whipping cream
1 qt 1% milk
1 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
1 T vanilla extract (use genuine if you can get it)
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
Rock salt

Peel, pit, and blend the avocados in a blender or food processor. Get them as finely blended as you can, removing any strings and pulverizing large chunks (though leaving small chunks is a nice textural touch). Transfer mashed avocados into a bowl and add cream and milk; stir together. Add sugar, vanilla, and lime juice and stir until all ingredients are well blended.

Transfer mixture to the ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. The above recipe made about a gallon of ice cream in a bucket-style electric ice cream maker.

Phase One: Soft Serve
With this particular model of ice cream maker, DS turned the paddle on and let it mix until the paddle slowed and/or the motor stopped. At that point, the ice cream was supposed to have reached a soft serve consistency. In this case, however, DS ran into an issue: the outer layer of ice cream, smack up against the cold metal container, froze more quickly than the center, so the paddle stopped sooner than it was supposed to.

Taking a risk, DS took the next step: he removed the metal container, put a lid on it, and stuck it in the freezer, banking on the probability that the ice cream was already well-blended and would stiffen up if it was left to chill for awhile. His gamble paid off.

Phase Two: Hard Serve
When he removed the metal bucket from the freezer, the ice cream had stiffened up nicely. It ended up being somewhere partway between soft- and hard serve in consistency, smooth and creamy, with a pale greenish color to it and little bits of avocado throughout.

Phase Three: PROFIT!!
The final result was in-smegging-credible. Avocado is high in oil, so it emulsified readily, producing an evenly-textured ice cream broken by soft little chunks here and there. The amount of sugar was just enough to put an edge on the natural sweetness of the avocados, but not overwhelm it. The flavor of the avocados dominated the mixture, but was subtle and mellow in a way that only avocados can be.

We all ate three bowls of the stuff the first time around. The second time DS added cinnamon. Next time he's thinking of trying it with honey.

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