Friday, December 16, 2016

Booze Flavored Ice Cream



The holidays are upon us—good cheer, warm cockles, and dining while captive audience to your white supremacist uncle. I’m not promising boozy ice cream will take the edge off. But it can’t hurt.

Spirit flavors are well trodden territory. If you can find it in a bottle, or make it in a still out back, someone’s probably made ice cream with it. I’ve made—or tried or seen or heard rumors of—ice creams made from every cordial and liqueur, malted and distilled grain, wine from every fruit (fortified in every kind of barrel), stout and ale and lambic and mead, brandy, sake, kefir, and all forms of home-grown something steeped in home-brewed something else.

The new frontiers seem to be about reimagining classic (or transgressive) cocktails as ice cream flavors. More on this later.

Just about the only booze I’ll recommend against is vodka, or other “neutral” spirits like Everclear. These are neutral in the sense that most of the character of the original fermented ingredient has been distilled and filtered out, and no new flavors have been added. These liquors all taste different straight up, but the subtleties are masked by any cocktail, and certainly by anything full of sugar and cream. All they add to ice cream is problems.

And alcohol indeed presents some problems. As a tiny molecule with a low molecular weight, ethanol (the alcohol that we choose to drink, because it’s non-toxic, more or less) has high powers of freezing point depression. 
(Please see the post on Sugars for a review freezing point depression in ice cream). 

By weight, alcohol depresses the freezing point more than any sugar (over seven times more than table sugar), or any other ingredient we'll likely use. This is why liquor-flavored ice creams are often soft, and often melt almost instantly on the plate.

We handle this by reducing other ingredients that have high freezing point depression. Additionally, we may have to limit the amount of alcohol. 

You can limit the alcohol either by reducing the quantity of spirits, or by simmering a portion of it to remove much of the alcohol, while concentrating the less volatile flavors. I find the latter method helpful with milder flavored liquors, like Cognac, or with alcoholically weaker ones, like wine and beer (which need water, rather than alcohol, boiled off). In many other cases, the boozy ingredient has more than enough flavor even in modest quantities, so the amount that tastes good presents a manageable amount of alcohol.

In all cases, it's helpful to reduce other ingredients with high freezing point depression. The first step is to simply eliminate the dextrose. It has double the depression of table sugar (sucrose), and is about a third less sweet. You may wish to increase the table sugar a bit to compensate. If the spirit you're using is sweet, this may be unnecessary. Keep an open mind to making your ice creams much less sweet than what’s typical; you may find that they just taste better all around—less cloying, with more dimensions and subtleties to the flavors.

You may wish to reduce the invert syrup a bit. And it’s often helpful to slightly increase the stabilizers. I find that just increasing the locust bean gum 20-25% is all that’s necessary, and that it helps without causing any textural weirdness.

The wee ethanol molecule. Molecular weight 46g/mol.
Looks like a Jeff Koons sculpture, but bites.

How Much Liquor?


A reasonable upper limit is 30g pure alcohol per 1000g mix. (3%)
This works out to: 

     -60g 100 proof booze
     -75g 80 proof booze
     -150g 40 proof booze / 20% fortified wine
     -200g 30 proof booze
     -230g 13% wine

These are suggested maximum quantities. In many cases, you’ll choose to use less.

With most hard liquors
75g is very strong.
45–60g gives nice flavor and a kick

With most liqueur and fortified wine:
45–60g is often plenty


If you’re using liquors that have lighter flavors relative to the alcohol content (cognac, sake, grappa) you may wish to to use more, but to simmer off the alcohol from a portion of it. For example, with cognac ice cream, I simmer 115g of cognac until it’s reduced by about 2/3. At this point most of the alcohol is gone. I add this along with 30g unreduced cognac. 

For weaker spirits, like wine, the problem isn't the added alcohol as much as the added water. You can reduce a portion of the wine with heat, but not most of it; heat will kill the aromatic flavors. I find it best to replace a portion of the milk with the wine—then add a commensurate amount of nonfat dry milk, to make up for the lost solids.

Liquor Quality


My general rule is to use liquor that you’d happily use in a sweet, tropical cocktail. Not necessarily the finest (you’re not going to taste all the subtleties through the dairy and sugar). But go for full flavors, and nothing that tastes bad.

For example, with cognac, I use an affordable VSOP grade that I’d be happy to drink, but that I wouldn’t be tempted to ruminate over with my pompous friends. I like Gosling's rum—bold, full-flavored, if not the most complex. Save the really good / delicate stuff for drinking straight.

Of course, some varieties of liquor are proprietary, and if you want their flavor profile you have to buy their brand. Like Campari, or Grand Marnier (see below). Some of these are indeed a bit expensive.


Summary of basic compensations:


-eliminate dextrose.
-Increase sweetness only as much as necessary by increasing sucrose
-If booze is a liqueur with added sugar, take into consideration. You may actually be able to reduce sucrose or keep it the same. 
-keep around 10% trimoline for its textural properties
-keep nonfat milk solids around 12%
-increase Locust Bean Gum up to 25%, depending on total quantity of added alcohol and water.


A Guide for Wine Ice Creams (this is a work in progress)

For 1000g base:
-720g wine (2 cups) divided in half
-Reduce one portion of the wine  by 2/3, concentrating and removing most alcohol
 (total volume will now be 1-1/3 cups. mass slightly higher than 360g)
-160g milk (2/3 cup)
-240 g cream (1 cup)—standard proportions for lower fat ice cream
-add additional 30g dry milk beyond your usal amount, to compensate for reduced fresh milk
eliminate dextrose, increase sucrose 20g
-increase locust bean gum 25%

Beer flavors (consider stouts and lambics!) would probably benefit from similar treatment.
If you experiment with this template, please let me know how it goes.



Thoughts on Cocktail Flavors


In some cases you can stick pretty close to the cocktail recipe. In others, you might find that some ingredients add too much alcohol relative to their flavor.

Gin, for example. High alcohol content, subtle flavors. And many of the flavors are aromatic, so you risk losing them if you reduce over heat. Assuming you don’t have a rotary evaporator, one solution is to add your own flavors through infusion. Think about what’s in there: juniper berries, angelica root, corriander, cardamum, citrus. Try infusing a lot of these into a small quantity of gin, to make an intense supergin that will hold up to dilution. Or infuse these flavors into the cream.

Generally, cocktails that are already sweet (anything from variations on the Old Fashioned to Tiki drinks) will work better than dry cocktails. I don’t see much potential for Martini ice cream (but maybe as a sorbet …)

Obviously, leave out the simple syrup. And avoid vodka cocktails (see above. And they're not real cocktails). 

If you’re making your own creations, remember that alcohol is a great solvent. Many flavors will infuse into the booze itself more readily than they will into the dairy. And alcohol is great for macerating dried fruits. The best rum raisin ice creams are alwways made with raisins soaked in a portion of the rum. Many of us got our first childhood buzz off of this flavor, and still remember it fondly (or don’t).

Go to good cocktail bars. Figure out what the mixologists are doing. The best of these guys are essentially chefs. Notice how they layer the flavors, so that they form a complex whole, but are still identifiable individually. Try to accomplish the same effects in the flavors you create.

Sample Recipe (single spirit)


Grand Marnier Ice Cream

If you haven't had the pleasure, Grand Marnier is a delicious liqueur made by infusing orange and spices (especially cloves) into cognac. Most other orange liqueurs taste like Kool Aid in comparison. This recipe is based on the standard ice cream base described in a previous post, with the modifications outlined above. I’ve replaced a portion of the trimoline with chestnut honey; this provides some dark, bitter, and savory notes that help support the liqueur's flavors.


Makes 1 liter. Written for an immersion circulator and blender, but should be easily adaptable to other techniques.

360g whole milk (3.3% fat)*
7g chestnut honey (replace w/ invert syrup if you don’t have it)
5g invert syrup

70g granulated sugar 
55g nonfat dry milk*

0.7g salt
1.0g locust bean gum (tested with TIC Gums POR/A, soluble at 74°C)
0.4g guar gum
0.2g lambda carrageenan

2 large egg yolks (36g)
360g  heavy cream (36% fat)* 
60g Grand Marnier (40% alcohol = 24g. 14g sugar)

Optional: 1/4 cup stuff to mix in: candied ginger, candied orange peel, shaved chocolate, white raisisns macerated in a portion of the grand marnier, etc.

*Use the best quality milk and cream you can get. Nothing ultrapasteurized. Low-temperature pasteurized is ideal. Homogenized products will give best texture. Avoid cream with added stabilizer (unknown variables). Dry milk must be 100% skim milk solidsprocessed without high heat. There should be no off odors either when it's dry or when it's mixed. Store sealed in freezer.

-set immersion circulator to 75°C / 167°F

-thoroughly mix powdered ingredients.
-separate eggs and set yolks aside. freeze whites for other use.

-measure milk, honey, and invert syrup into blender.
-set blender speed to create a vortex; add powdered ingredients. cover and blend on high for 30 seconds to disperse the stabilizers. 
-add cream, yolks, Grand Marnier.
-briefly blend again

-pour mixture into 1gal ziplock bag.
-add weight (recommended, to keep bag from floating) and evacuate the air.
-cook in water bath for 45 minutes to set custard, hydrate stabilizers, denature milk proteins.
-gently agitate bag after 5 and 15 minutes. if you see air accumulated in the bag after 15 minutes, release it, and carefully reseal bag.
-mix will be pasteurized (pasteurization time after reaching this temperature is under 2 minutes).

-remove bag from water bath. open and pour hot mix into clean blender container (or a square container if using a homogenizer or stick blender). remove weight (with tongs). use bag to squeegee off any mix. temporarily seal bag and keep handy. 
-blend on highest speed for 30 seconds to homogenize.

-pour mix back into ziplock bag.

-chill bag in ice water bath (use ice bath to evacuate the air when sealing bag). carefully agitate to cool. Try to cool to refrigerator temperature. 
-refrigerate at least 8 hours, below 38°F / 3°C to age mix / pre-crystalize fat.

******
-pour into ice cream machine: snip off bottom corner of bag, and squeeze out mix as if using a pastry bag. or squeeze out into an intermediate container that’s easy to pour from.
-spin in the ice cream maker. With a mulitispeed machine, use a slow setting (this recipe works best with a low overrun). Ideal drawing temperature is 23°F / -5°C.
-evaluate when surface texture of ice cream first looks dry. if it needs more overrun, continue on higher speed. if it needs to cool more, continue on lower speed. 

-optional: mix in the mix-ins.


-harden for several hours (preferably overnight) in a cold freezer. freezer should be set to -5°F / -20°C or lower. Ice cream will have to warm up several degrees before serving. 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge works well. Ideal serving temperature is 6 to 10° F / -14 to -12°C.

Sample Recipe 2 (cocktail)


Bourbon Smash Ice Cream

The Bourbon Smash is one of my favorite summer cocktails. It would be one of my favorite winter cocktails, too, but it can be hard to find good, fresh mint outside the summer months. I just made a batch of this from the last surviving mint from my garden, which wasn't in the best shape (there's an inch of snow on the ground, and the leaves are mostly turning black). Can you come up with a better version for winter? How about less citrus, and replacing the mint with cardamom or cloves?

This recipe illustrates a few techniques beyond the basics: zesting a lemon and incorporating zest with the dry ingredients (hint: a fine Microplane is probably the most efficient tool for this); incorporating fresh citrus juice (strain, and add after the cream and eggs have been incorporated, to keep the milk proteins from curdling); and herbal infusion (with a blanching step to stop enzymatic browning and dulling of the flavors. I recommend blanching with steam rather than boiling water).

Makes 1 liter. Written for an immersion circulator and blender, but should be easily adaptable to other techniques.

340g whole milk (3.3% fat)*
12g invert syrup

85g granulated sugar
55g nonfat dry milk*
4g (aprox.) lemon zest (from 1 small lemon)

1g salt
0.8g locust bean gum. increase to 1.0g if you get icy textures (tested with TIC Gums POR/A, soluble at 74°C)
0.4g guar gum
0.2g lambda carrageenan

2 large egg yolks (36g)
360g  heavy cream (36% fat)*

24g (aprox) lemon juice (from 1 small lemon)
65g bourbon (43% alcohol = 28g)
2g Angostura bitters

18g very fresh mint leaves

*Use the best quality milk and cream you can get. Avoid anything ultrapasteurized. Low-temperature pasteurized is ideal. Homogenized products will give best texture. Avoid cream with added stabilizer (unknown variables). Dry milk should be 100% skim milk solids, processed without high heat. There should be no off odors either when it's dry or when it's mixed. Store sealed in freezer.

-set immersion circulator to 75°C / 167°F

-rinse mint leaves and trim off browned parts and most of the stems
-boil some water in a container that takes a steamer insert.
-steam the mint 60 seconds to set the color and deactivate browning enzymes. set aside

-thoroughly mix powdered ingredients.
-separate eggs and set yolks aside. freeze whites for other use.
-measure and combine lemon juice, bourbon, and bitters. set aside.

-measure milk and invert syrup into blender.
-set blender speed to create a vortex; add powdered ingredients. cover and blend on high for 30 seconds to disperse the stabilizers.
-add cream and yolks. blend briefly.
-add bourbon-lemon-bitters mixture. briefly blend again.

-pour mixture into 1gal ziplock bag.
-add mint leaves
-add weight (recommended, to keep bag from floating) and evacuate the air.
-cook in water bath for 45 minutes to set custard, hydrate stabilizers, denature milk proteins.
-gently agitate bag after 5 and 15 minutes. if you see air accumulated in the bag after 15 minutes, release it, and carefully reseal bag.
-mix will be pasteurized (pasteurization time after reaching this temperature is under 2 minutes).

-remove bag from water bath. open and strain hot mix into clean blender container (or a square container if using a homogenizer or stick blender). strain out herbs and the weight. temporarily seal bag and keep handy. discard mint leaves.
-blend on highest speed for 30 seconds to homogenize.
-pour mix back into ziplock bag.
-chill bag in ice water bath (use ice bath to evacuate the air when sealing bag). carefully agitate to cool. Try to cool to refrigerator temperature.
-refrigerate at least 8 hours, below 38°F / 3°C to age mix / pre-crystalize fat.

******

-pour into ice cream machine: snip off bottom corner of bag, and squeeze out mix as if using a pastry bag. or squeeze out into a intermediate container that’s easy to pour from.
-spin in the ice cream maker. With a mulitispeed machine, use a slow setting (this recipe works best with a low overrun). Ideal drawing temperature is 23°F / -5°C.
-evaluate when surface texture of ice cream first looks dry. if it needs more overrun, continue on higher speed. if it needs to cool more, continue on lower speed.
-harden for several hours (preferably overnight) in a cold freezer. freezer should be set to -5°F / -20°C or lower. Ice cream will have to warm up several degrees before serving. 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge works well. Ideal serving temperature is 6 to 10° F / -14 to -12°C.






Part 1 of this series: Introduction
Part 2 of this series: Components
Part 3 of this series: How to Build a Recipe
Part 4 of this series: Basic Recipe Examples
Part 5 of this series: Techniques
Part 6 of this series: Sugars
Part 7 of this series: Stabilizers
Part 8 of this series: Emulsifiers
Part 9 of this series: Booze

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this Booze Flavor Ice Cream. I will try your recipe.

    - Gustavo Woltmann

    ReplyDelete