Monday, May 27, 2013

Cinnamon Stracciatella Ice Cream with Candied Carrots and Toasted Coconut

I recently went on a hike that featured many small paths branching off the main path, and I wondered quietly to myself where each one went.  So, the next day, I went back and decided to explore each of these smaller paths that seemingly led to nowhere.  As I would come to discover, each of the paths were at one point connected with each other and the main path in one large network.  They were connected in such a way that you could hike a slightly different route every time and probably never hike the same route twice. 

As you’ve probably noticed, I often relate a lot of the life lessons I learn to the food I eat and/or cook.  After all, food is such a big part of my life that it is hard not to.  Most recently, I was struck with a realization that both food and life share a very important quality: versatility.  
Carrots, for example, are used mainly in savory dishes as a vegetable, but are also used in desserts such as carrot cake or my recipe for candied carrots below.  When it comes to combining ingredients, there are truly endless combinations and possibilities, some more common or conventional than others.  Similarly, not only does life provide never-ending opportunities, but it also allows for numerous ways to reach these opportunities, much like my hiking example above.  

And so, the moral of my post today would probably be something along the lines of, “Don’t be discouraged by failure, just keep searching for the path that will get you where you want to go.”

Cinnamon Stracciatella Ice Cream with Candied Carrots and Toasted Coconut

For the Ice Cream-
  • 2 cans coconut milk (full fat)
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot flour (optional)
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk (reserving 2 Tablespoons in which to dissolve the arrowroot), maple syrup, honey, vanilla extract, spices, and salt.  Begin heating the mixture over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile in a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot in the reserved 2 Tablespoons of coconut milk, and add it to the warm ice cream base. (This step is optional.  The arrowroot will create a slightly creamier texture, but is not necessary.)
  3. Bring to a gentle boil for one minute stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
  4. At this point, you can add the chilled base to an ice cream maker, or if you don’t have one (like me) you can use the old stir-and-freeze method as follows: Pour the mixture into a glass baking dish, and place in the freezer. With a whisk or electric beaters, beat the mixture every 30 minutes or so until it reaches ice cream consistency.  (Whisking intensely and thoroughly will break up the ice crystals more and result in a creamier product, so make sure to put some muscle into it.)
  5. Melt the chocolate chips and drizzle the chocolate over the ice cream in thin ribbons.  When the chocolate hardens, break it up and mix it into the ice cream to create the classic “stracciatella” effect.

For the candied carrots-
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ⅔ cup carrots, finely diced
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  1. Heat a medium-sized pan over medium heat, and add the butter.  When the butter is melted, add the carrots and the salt and sautée for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the honey and maple syrup and cook for several minutes more, stirring frequently.  The mixture should bubble while it cooks, and when it begins to thicken, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

For the toasted coconut:
Heat a small pan over medium-low heat.  Add ¼ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, and toast it for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally until nicely browned.