Jeffrey: It’s easy to forget that ice cream was around in Europe even before it became an all-American dessert. The ingredients—milk, cream, eggs, and sugar—plus the blocks of ice stored during pre- refrigeration summers, made it a luxurious treat for the wealthy. As ice and sugar became cheaper in the nineteenth century, ice cream became much more common. In small towns in eastern Europe, ice cream was sold at local candy shops. A close family friend who grew up in Dubienka, Poland, before the Second World War remembers fondly how a shop owner would give out free ice cream to children who helped him churn it.
Something about the sweetness of beets and their deep crimson color feels so in line with the Ashkenazi dessert tradition, although I doubt that Jews from Dubienka were experimenting with vegetable- flavored ice creams. I like to leave the mint out and use it simply as a garnish, but Liz thinks the ice cream is best with the mint infused, as described in the recipe. We both agree, however, that the chocolate should come from a high-quality bar. Note that this is a longer, more involved recipe and requires an ice cream maker.
Dark Chocolate and Roasted Beet Ice Cream
Makes About 1 Pint Ice Cream
- 9 ounces whole beets (about 3 medium), scrubbed
- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 1⁄4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves (optional)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 2 ounces dark chocolate
- Kosher salt
- Chocolate shavings, for garnish
- Sprig of fresh mint, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400oF. Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil
and place them on a baking sheet. Roast the beets until they are fork-tender,
40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the beets (larger beets take longer). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets (the skin should peel off easily under cold running water). Quarter the beets and liquefy in a blender with 2 tablespoons of the milk. If your beets don’t completely liquefy in the blender, pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with four layers of wet cheesecloth to remove the solids. Set the beet liquid aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, remaining 1⁄2 cup milk, and mint (if using) and heat over low heat. Using the bottom of a jar or glass, muddle the mint into the milk-cream mixture to release its flavors. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in color and set aside. If using mint, remove the leaves from the milk- cream mixture with a slotted spoon.
Increase the heat to medium-low and stream a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk-cream mixture into the sugar- egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the sugar-egg mixture into the pot with the hot milk-cream mixture to make a custard. Stir continuously until it thickens and turns a pale yellow, about 10 minutes. Do not let the custard boil. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl to let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Stir the melted chocolate into the custard, then stir the beet liquid in.
Place the chocolate-beet ice cream base into an airtight container or your ice cream maker’s canister, covered with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, at least a couple of hours or up to overnight.
In your ice cream maker, churn the ice cream base according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store finished ice cream in the freezer; transfer it to the fridge 15 to 20 minutes before serving to soften it a bit. Garnish with chocolate shavings and a sprig of mint.
Excerpted from the book THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO by Jeffrey Yoskowitz & Liz Alpern. Copyright ©2016 by Gefilte Manifesto LLC. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Lauren Volo.