Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chai Ice Cream with Fig Palmiers

I know one might expect an "Easter" type of post at this point, but bear with me.  The Easter holiday represents a lot of different things to different people, and to some people nothing at all.  Something I think that's universal, though, is renewal.  Springtime, awakening, rebirth.

Beautiful Mama, Beautiful Baby Deegan

Very recently my dear friend Courtney gave birth to her second son.  He arrived after a hurried move to another state.  The last time I had Courtney and her hubby over for dinner, I made them a dessert of chai ice cream and french chocolate bark.  It was my first time making this particular ice cream, and a broken rule on my part: never make a dish for the first time for company. 

I learned my lesson, because although tasty, my ice cream was sub-par.  I had set the bar pretty high with Courtney's birthday ice cream, a silky smooth Bailey's Irish Ice Cream dream that was something I'd mastered already.  Then I handed her this too-icy and not delectably smooth batch of  chai.  While she was pregnant.  And what turned out to be the last time we were able to host them for dinner prior to the move. 

Courtney, I'm so sorry, even though you forgave me.  I've been thinking about what went wrong and this has been on my list of sweets-to-blog from the start.  I added a celebratory palmier this time, knowing you would love those itty bitty crunchy fig seeds against the creamy dreamy ice cream.  The shape just happened to be a bit like your monograms, too!

In honor of baby Deegan's birth, I've done it right for you this time.

Chai Ice Cream
*adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein

1 1/2 cups Tazo brand Chai Spiced Black Tea Latte Concentrate
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan, bring the tea concentrate to a boil over medium-high heat.  Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced at least by half, to about 3/4 cup.  This took me about 8 minutes and produced a very intensely spiced liquid, nearly syrup.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar into the egg yolks until thickened and pale yellow.  (Sugar will "burn" eggs if you don't work quickly, so I began beating the
eggs a moment and poured the sugar in with the beaters going.)  Set aside.

Bring the whole milk to a simmer in a heavy  medium saucepan.  Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs and sugar.  Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly.  You'll be able to "feel" it get heavier while stirring.  Do not let this boil or your cusard will scramble!  Remove from heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large, clean bowl.  Allow the custard to cool slightly, then add the tea concentrate and heavy cream.  Stir, then cover the surface of the custard with a sheet of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate overnight.**

Strain the custard mixture again directly into an ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer's directions.  I use an inexpensive Deni brand that has a separate chill-bucket.  The key with this type of machine is to make certain the chill bucket is at or sub-zero degrees.  Standard freezer temps often do not produce this intense cold, and it will leave you with a grainy textured ice cream. 
Custard has doubled in volume and is creeping up the dasher, top middle.

Straight out of the machine: a bit grainy, but holds a peak.  It will smooth as it finishes freezing.

**A note about custard temperature prior to freezing:  having made a LOT of ice cream, the surefire way to get the silky smooth, tongue coating mouthfeel is to start with an ice cream base that is as cold as possible without freezing.  Testing the base with a digital thermopen has been the magic wand for me.  I recommend starting with a base that is no more than 35 degrees, and preferably lower.

I see a lot of C's and D's in these beauties!
Fig Palmiers

1 sheet (half of one 17.5 oz  package) frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
granulated sugar
8-12 oz fig preserves, I love American Spoon's black mission fig conserve, but Gia Russa brand is readily available and just as tasty.

Scatter sugar on rolling surface, place opened pastry sheet on sugar.  Scatter additional sugar on top of the sheet.  Roll lengthwise with a rolling pin,  to approximately 11 x 14 inches. 

Warm fig preserves in a microwave safe bowl about 30 seconds or until loosened.  Depending on the thickness of your preserve, you may need to add a teaspoon of water.  Dollop preserves over rolled pastry with a spoon to evenly distribute.  Spread over pastry gently with a pastry brush to evenly coat with a thin layer. 

Roll the two short ends of the rectangle together, meeting in the middle.  Roll tightly to achieve those curlyques!  Wrap this log tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for two hours. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove log from the freezer, unwrap, and slice 1/4 inch slices from the roll (discard both ends).  Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, allowing two inches between slices.  Bake for 15 minutes, checking for browning after about 12 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to allow palmiers to stiffen up and achieve that characteristic crunch!


  1. OH, my gosh. This is too much goodness in one post. All of it together... just, dreamy!

  2. Oh you're after my heart. Ice cream + chai = magnificence!!

    Here's a question from a non-baker... what's thermopen? Is it like a thermometer?

    1. A thermapen is a digital thermometer that reads at a super quick speed. The one I use is by Thermoworks and is a little pricey compared to some other digital thermometers you can buy. We had terrible luck with cheaper models shorting out on us. We love this one now and it's sturdy and reliable! http://www.thermoworks.com/products/thermapen/splashproof_thermapen.html

  3. Mmmmmm! Love this ice cream, it was amazing even the first time you made it! The Fig Palmiers are so adorable too. Thanks so much for the dedication, miss you much! xo


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