Some things, once they find each other, seem like they always should have been together. Unlikely and unalike as they may be habanero and vanilla bean are gonna meet and mingle, steep and churn into a sumptuously rich ice-cream with a kick of fiery heat.
Fragrant vanilla and stinging habanero burn hot, quench cold and love each other fiercely in this frosty dessert. Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is the result of an odd incident that happened this past holiday season involving a curiously chili-peppered wooden spoon and an afternoon of custard stirring.
I made a custard base for a simple vanilla bean ice cream when I was visiting some peeps. I grabbed a wooden spoon from a big jar on their kitchen counter and started coddling eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla bean into a thick custard. I even gave my ice cream base some extra steeping and thickening time while I stood over the saucepan steadily stirring.
And then I tasted it. Whoa…hot! And there were no peppers or pepper products in sight.
Halfway through wallowing around in a mouthful of icy cold, vanilla goodness…BAM!…you got heat. It was like Emeril snuck up on you and whomped you in the noggin’ with a pack of peppers. My coddled, custard base dotted with sticky, fragrant Madagascar vanilla beans was on fire. So I decided…may as well churn it and see what happens. It totally worked.The contrast of spicy fire and icy cold rocked.
I had to figure out how to make it again without the heat-givin’ wooden spoon. And it turns out that the solution is simple: throw a habanero into the custard while it’s thickening. I experimented and found that one half of a habanero pepper, seeded, worked for me. You can taste the base as it thickens and gains fire. Pluck the habanero out when you like the level of spicy spark.
Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream has a sneaky heat that builds and then falls away as rich vanilla quiets the burn. Just as this ice cream seems like it’s gonna fire up into one hot, ice cream disaster the cold comfort of vanilla-infused cream takes over and soothes, calms, sings. Makes you want another bite.
Sometimes the indelible past mixes into a surprising and truly excellent result, huh?
Hot and cold compliment and define each other in this silky Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. The brief, peppery heat highlights the cold creaminess and makes the richness of this dessert seem even more luxurious. It’s intriguing, unexpected and powerfully good.
Happy hot, cold and everything in between!
Recipe: Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Summary: Rich, comforting vanilla bean ice cream with a brief peppery heat
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- three inch vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise
- 1/2 habanero, seeded
- Combine the whole milk, heavy cream in a saucepan. Scrape the beans from the vanilla pod halves into the cream and milk mix and throw the pods in too. Stir to combine.
- Bring this mixture to a slow boil. As soon as it begins to bubble reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes.
- In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick, smooth and pale yellow (approx. 2 minutes).
- In a slow, steady stream pour about 1 cup of warm milk, cream, vanilla bean mixture into the yolk, sugar mixture and whisk to combine.
- Add this mixture back into the saucepan that has the rest of the milk, cream mixture in it and stir to combine.
- Add the habanero pepper.
- Simmer until this custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon approx. 15-20 minutes stirring steadily the whole time. Taste it occasionally to see how the heat is and remove the habanero when you like the level.
- Strain through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla bean pods (but not the beans) and the habanero. Or just pluck them out if you prefer.
- Chill this concoction for about 2 hours then churn it into ice cream in your ice cream maker.
- Pour churned ice cream into a freezer-safe storage container. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of ice cream, cover with lid and let set till it is scoopable or serve it a little soft. No worries!
Cooking time: 55 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
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Recipe by fat pig.
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