“Yam ice cream”
“You mean, like, yam?”
“As in, real yam?”
“What’s in it?”
“Well, there’s yam…”
This was the conversation at dinner last night with Mr Gander’s cousin. Thankfully the conversation for the rest of the evening was more erudite.
It was an evening of mildly experimental dishes – being cousin-in-law and a good friend, I could expose him to my wilder flights of fancy without (too much) repercussion. Other close friends have come to expect a menu of surprises whenever they come around. As in, ‘miso surprise!’, ‘stuff with plums’, or, ‘so I wondered what would happen if I did this…’
The evening started with a gorgeous savoury plum tart, with mascarpone, mille-feuille puff pastry, and a plum-Chinkiang*-coconut-sugar drizzle (because we ran out of balsamic vinegar, but actually was so good I want to make it again). Then, gnudi – made with a mixture of ricotta and goats milk fetta – in a parmesan-enriched broth and a swirl of fresh pesto.
* Chinkiang vinegar: a black vinegar made from glutinous rice. Good quality mature Chingkiang has a complex flavour somewhat like balsamic vinegar.
And then, yam ice cream.
Some time in late January, I got the ice cream making bug. I saw ice creams with goat cheese and honey and pear swirls, popcorn and salted caramel, lamington (on Australia Day). I looked for pure, creamy, black-flecked vanilla, and gelato that was like pure dark chocolate except colder and more ephemeral. Australia was going through a heat wave, people were flocking to the beach, and my mind was buzzing with ice creamy possibilities.
There was a slight snag: we don’t have an ice cream maker. This was a kitchen gadget I never could justify buying. So I began to look for no-churn ice cream recipes.
Many of the no-churn recipes use condensed milk: I think the idea is with enough sugar and fat, the mixture would freeze without forming large ice crystals. But condensed milk has quite a strong flavour, so I needed equally strong or distinctive flavours to counter it. (I also found other varieties of no churn ice cream using different ingredients, some of them are at the end of the post after the recipe)
My first attempt used a mix of condensed milk, creme fraiche and sour cream, with generous scoops of passionfruit pulp. It was creamy, a little tangy (not unlike froyo), with the tropical brightness of passionfruit.
Then, I thought of the cornucopia of Asian ice cream flavours: pandan, durian, green tea, yam. Yam. And a traditional Chinese dessert made with mashed yam (my very favourite as a child).
And the rest is history.
When eaten at ideal temperature, this yam ‘ice cream’ has an intriguing elastic texture, not unlike the middle eastern ice creams made with mastic, a gum resin. I guess it comes from the starch in the yam? Because I bought a pale flesh yam, the ice cream was cream coloured, with mild streaks of purple. The yam flavour was balanced out by the creamy-sweet from the other ingredients, so it was distinctive without being overpowering.
The guys devoured it, once they got over saying ‘…yam?’
This ice cream is still an experiment, made with a roughly 1:1:1.5 proportion of condensed milk, creme fraiche and mashed yam. The starch content in the yam made the ice cream quite hard when fully frozen. Next time, I will try using cream and icing sugar instead of condensed milk.
And, I can’t wait to experiment with other Asian flavours in no churn ice creams. I’m thinking black sesame, red bean paste, even kaya (I’m starry eyed at the thought of kaya ice cream). The last month of summer is looking up.
No churn yam ice cream, a bare bones recipe with many footnotes
100 grams condensed milk
100 grams creme fraiche
1. Cut yam into 1cm cubes (bit less than 0.5 inch). Steam over medium heat for 15 minutes until the yam pieces are soft and mashable. Mash until you get a slightly chunky texture, leave aside and cool to room temperature.
2. Stir together condensed milk and creme fraiche, add the mashed yam. Pour or scoop into a food processor and mix for 20-30 seconds, until the mixture seems a little aerated and the yam has been mixed into the condensed milk mixture. (I slightly undercooked the yam, as a result the mixture still had tiny chunks of purple-coloured yam in it.)
3. Pour into a shallow and large container, and place into the freezer until frozen. I think, since the mixture becomes really hard, you can serve the ice cream before it becomes too hard.
Footnotes: other no churn ice creams
One ingredient (and the ingredient isn’t condensed milk)
Frozen banana ice cream