Now that January is finally over and the dreaded “New Year, New You” idealism is slowly starting to dissipate, I feel like I can finally come out of hiding to continue pushing my “all butterfat, all the time” agenda.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy a good ol’ fresh start shrouded in optimism and exercise and all the other things we’re supposed to embrace at the turn of a new year. I actually love it: as a marketer, one of my greatest pleasures in life is the ability to take advantage of people when they’re at their most aspirational – and consequently – most vulnerable.
But what I love even more than the New Year is THIS time of year – the beginning to middle of February, when people fall off the bandwagon just a little bit. It’s not for lack of trying; I think most folks just start to realize they’re pretty awesome just the way they are.
(And I couldn’t agree more!).
But that’s not to say we haven’t picked up some good habits along the way. One thing I learned to love during my brief stint with health & wellness this January is green tea – it’s one of the last remnants of my personal New Year, New You campaign, but like most healthy foods in my life, I’ve figured out how to turn it into dessert.
(Whoops! My bad).
I started drinking green tea right after the holidays, as a result of some late-night Pinterest exploration in which a picture of a green tea latte with the caption BLAST BELLY FAT FAST caught my eye (I know, I know – pathetic). While the jury is still out on the belly fat part, I’ve found that I really enjoy the flavor and daily ritual of green tea. Although nothing will ever top a perfectly brewed cup of coffee in my book, green tea is a nice gentle start to the morning and makes me feel like I’m being healthy at work.
But it wasn’t just this newfound habit that got me thinking about tea ice cream; it’s actually been quite a longtime coming, the culmination of a few perfect storms of events.
The primary driver of this flavor is my best friend Kelly, because she’s a huge tea enthusiast and I’ve been promising her a tea-flavored ice cream for quite a while now. But because I’m a terrible friend, and also a procrastinator, I always put it off – I think secretly I was afraid I’d disappoint her and the flavor just wouldn’t be good. And I refuse to give my friend anything but the best!
(See what I did there, Kelly? 🙂 )
Fast forward a few months later to Christmas, and Santa was kind enough to leave a fancy Vosges Green Tea Chocolate bar in my stocking. Although I was initially apprehensive, once I tore into that thing, I was FEELING IT. The matcha imparted such a nice earthy flavor to the chocolate, and I thought I detected little chunks of salt (or maybe it was cocoa nibs?) that just totally rocked my world. This experience, coupled with all the adorable matcha donuts I’ve been seeing on Instagram lately, pretty much sealed the deal that matcha would be the next flavor to come out of my kitchen.
Matcha is essentially ground green tea leaves, and it’s allegedly much healthier because rather than infusing and diluting the leaves in water, you’re actually drinking the leaves via the powder. That’s not really the part I care about though; what I’m here to tell you is how delicious matcha is – it has a really beautiful flavor; super savory and comforting, especially when paired with sugar and milk products.
However, as is sometimes the case with my flavor combos, this ice cream was easier said than done.
Sometimes when I plan out my ice cream flavors, I forget that I don’t live in New York City and may not necessarily have quick access to cool ingredients. What started out a simple errand turned into a wild goose chase in my little town, as I was on the HUNT for matcha powder. We went to two or threes stores then finally found it at our local health food store, and lo and behold, it was a whopping $17.99.
(Are normal people paying this much?)
The high price was such a bummer, and I was really worried throughout the entire process, right up until I tasted the churned, finished product. Honestly you guys? This ice cream was worth every penny! It was delicious and mellow, but also sweet and super comforting. I was so relieved!
The texture of matcha is similar to cocoa powder in that you want to whisk it with some milk before you add it to your ice cream base to make sure it gets incorporated. I threw in the chocolate chunks to add a point of interest, but primarily as a vehicle for one of my brand new artisan salts that my husband got me for Christmas. It was the perfect touch!
A new year’s resolution that I can stick with year-round? Eat more matcha ice cream (always).
What’s your favorite way to prepare matcha?
Matcha Ice Cream with Black Salt Chocolate Chunks
Yield: 1 quart
For the ice cream:
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk + 2 tbs divided
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons matcha powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Black Salt Chocolate Chunks
1.5 cups of semisweet or dark chocolate chips or pieces
1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
½ to 1 teaspoon of black salt
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until all of the yolks are broken and the sugar is well-incorporated.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream, 1 cup milk, and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the cream is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into a custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
- Strain custard through a sieve into a bowl, and add the vanilla extract. In a small bowl, whisk matcha powder into the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk until completely incorporated, then add to the cooked custard. Season with a touch more salt, if needed. Store mixture in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
Make the Chocolate Chunks:
- In a heatproof microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips at 15 second intervals until completely smooth. Stir in the oil until completely dissolved.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment, then pour the melted chocolate into the pan, spreading into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the top with black salt, then freeze for half an hour or so, until set.
- Using a knife or your hands, break chocolate into pieces; these can be chocolate chunks, or to make shards, try to emulate the look of broken glass.
- Store in an airtight container until ice cream is ready to be churned. Extras can be stored for up to two weeks.
Put it all together:
- Freeze the ice cream base in your machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. During the last minute of churn time, add the chocolate chunks. Move to a cute storage container, then freeze overnight until hardened. Enjoy 🙂