Throughout the course of my blogwork here on ITSF, I’ve made frequent mention of my general disdain and long-standing resentment for fruit-centric desserts. My primary reasons for this particular position are as follows:
1) My love for chocolate trumps all things, except for the obvious must-haves like family, friends, and guinea pig memes.
2) My brain simply isn’t capable of disassociating “fruit” from “health.” And if there’s one thing I don’t want in my life, it’s a healthy dessert.
3) I never find myself fully satisfied after consuming fruity desserts, so I’m forced to partake in something called Second Dessert (also known as “Real Dessert” or “Better Dessert” in some social circles)
However, as I’m finding more and more in my many culinary exploits, it seems that there is almost always an exception to the rule, and in the case of fruity desserts, mine comes in the form of a sweet-and-juicy, almost-creamy, brightly colored ball of sunshine:
Mango may seem like an odd choice for a country bumpkin from the midwest, but it holds a very special place in my food memory (and heart). As a child in the summertime, my mom would frequently make a stop at the local coffee shop to treat me to a mango smoothie, and I was convinced it was the most delicious thing I would ever taste in my entire life (mind you, this was back in the day before smoothies were green and made with real fruit and vegetables; pretty sure what I was consuming was some sort of frozen mango concentrate mixed with vanilla ice cream, but whatever – I loved it!).
Sadly, as I grew into my teenage years and my natural curiosity for junk foods increased, my love for mango was all but forgotten, until one fateful day as a Sophomore in college when mango re-entered my life in a blaze of glory, in the form of the most amazing ice cream served at our local Indian restaurant.
Like many youngsters away from home for the first time, I went through an experimentation phase in college.
(Experimentation with food, that is).
The greater Akron/Cleveland area is blessed with a pretty awesome food scene, and my friends and I made it our weekly mission to sample as many different regional cuisines as possible. Not only did we sample the food, but we attempted to fully immerse ourselves in whatever our Culture of the Week was at the time, researching the history of the region and reading up on current events and pop culture.
We went through phases – one week it was Mexican, the next Brazilian, then Lebanese, our cultural exploration driven primarily by our love of food. By far, through all of the ups and downs of our many and varied “cultural flings,” our obsession with India and its cuisine was the most frequented and enduring of any other phase (except perhaps the French Phase, which is ongoing indefinitely. But what girl doesn’t want to eat brioche and pretend to be Amelie?).
For a long stretch of time, a typical Friday night for me in college included Indian food at our favorite local spot, trips to World Market for chai tea and incense, and Bollywood movie marathons. Looking back on it now, our experience was probably quite suburban, but we did the best we could within the confines of our geographical (and financial) limitations. Besides – I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.
Even though my college years are long gone, I’m still madly in love with Indian cuisine. It’s my ultimate comfort food. As my husband has witnessed, it will even reduce me to tears if I’m having a bad enough day and it magically appears on the kitchen table (Best.Husband.Ever). But what really puts the experience over the top? That delicious mango ice cream that instantly transports me back to the days of my childhood, sipping on those sweet mango smoothies on a hot summer day.
My goal for this week’s ice cream experiment was to emulate the exact flavor of my beloved mango ice cream from the Indian restaurant, but after all was said and done, I ended up with something new and exciting. I added the ginger in hopes that it would create an interesting spice element, but much to my (pleasant) surprise, the two flavors combined into a lovely, almost floral flavor, while the mint syrup added an earthy freshness that was subtle and unexpected.
You guys, I think my palate might be growing up!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures into the Land of Fruity Desserts – who knows, I may have to come back to this place more often, now that I know what I’ve been missing 🙂
Mango Ginger Ice Cream with Fresh Mint Syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
Salt (1tsp, or to taste)
Flesh from 3 mangoes (plus the pit – don’t throw it out just yet!)
1.5 tsps chopped ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the mint syrup:
1.5 cups packed mint leaves
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks slightly until just broken up.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, cream, sugar, and salt until it just begins to steam.
- A quarter or so cup at a time, begin to ladle the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, and whisk vigorously until combined. Once all of the milk has been incorporated into the eggs, add back to the pan.
- Heat over medium heat until mixture thickens and becomes a custard, about 15 minutes or so. Strain through a fine sieve and pour into a storage container or large bowl. Allow to cool slightly then store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
- Puree the mango and ginger in a blender until completely smooth and mix into the ice cream base. Add in the vanilla, and just before you start to churn the ice cream, use your hands to squeeze the excess juice out of the mango pit directly into the ice cream base. I know it sounds weird, but you’d be surprised at how much juice comes out – it really adds a lot of flavor.
- Freeze in an ice cream maker according to machine directions, and store overnight to allow it to harden.
- Serve alone or with mint syrup (to make the mint syrup, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil for a few minutes, until thickened. Once cooled, steep in the chopped mint leaves for a few hours (a few hours or…24, if you’re hardcore)