Friday, August 3, 2012

Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Cherries

I once worked with a cheesemonger and thoroughly loved the experience of learning about and tasting lots of different cheeses. The sights and smells of those packages arriving from all over the world each week provided great pleasure. Cheese made from goat's milk quickly became among my favorites. Goat cheese is lighter in fat and I love the pronounced tang and the unmistakable texture.

Having some extra goat cheese and cream cheese in my refrigerator prompted the making of this ice cream. It's a recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, an ice cream shop that began in Ohio and has expanded into an extensive empire due to the popularity of their innovative ice creams. Goat Cheese with Red Cherries is one of their perennial flavors so I thought I'd give it a try to use up my spare goat cheese and cream cheese.

I also wanted to test Jeni's unique formulation. Her basic recipe for all her ice creams includes cream cheese, cornstarch and corn syrup. While I rarely use corn syrup for anything and only in very small quantities, it is sometimes used in ice cream to improve the viscosity and prevent ice crystal formation. Cornstarch is a standard thickener in Sicilian gelato. Cream cheese is an unusual addition but since Jeni doesn't use egg yolks, this replaces some of the fat and richness associated with conventional custard-based ice cream.

The Goat Cheese Ice Cream is described in the cookbook as tasting like cheesecake and I can vouch for that. While not quite as dense as cheesecake, it's rich, creamy and definitely has the delicious taste of cheese. It's a beautiful white color and would pair well with acidic fruit and fruit sauces to foil the richness as well as toasted or candied nuts for a texture contrast.

Sometime soon I'll have to test more of Jeni's recipes that aren't based on cheese so that I can get a better feel for her method and how it affects the texture of her ice cream. There are lots of intriguing choices in her beautiful book, so that shouldn't be any problem at all.

Bench notes:
- When bringing the milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup to a boil, keep a close eye on it. Cream has a tendency to boil over and make a spectacular mess!
- Fresh goat cheese, also known as chevre, is the soft crumbly kind.
- It's easier to combine the goat cheese and the cream cheese if both are at room temperature.
- Jeni instructs to chill the base in a plastic bag submerged in an ice bath. My habit is to chill ice cream mixes in the refrigerator overnight. I find this ensures that the base is really cold enough to make efficient use of the ice cream machine and it allows the flavors to settle in and marry.
- Jeni has a recipe for Roasted Cherries that she recommends for this ice cream. I had some balsamic cherries on hand so I used them instead. The sugar level in her recipe seems awfully high but that may be due to the fact that she mixes the cherries into the ice cream.
- If you enjoy goat cheese, try this terrific Goat Cheese Cake. It's light, bright, fresh and absolutely delectable.
- Thanks to my readers who requested more information, I'm starting a new gluten free category of recipes. I'll be working on it over the weekend to include all my past recipes that don't contain gluten. Hope it helps those who are searching for gluten free pastries and desserts.

Goat Cheese Ice Cream
Makes 1 generous quart

2 C milk
1 T + 1 t cornstarch
1/2 C (4 oz) fresh goat cheese
1 1/2 oz (3 T) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 C heavy cream
2/3 C sugar
1/4 C light corn syrup
1/4 t salt

Make a slurry by mixing 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the goat cheese and cream cheese until smooth.

Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium hight heat. Lower the heat to a slow boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return to heat and bring the mixture back to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring with a heat-proof rubber spatula. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Whisk the hot milk mixture into the cheeses until smooth. Pour into a clean airtight container and chill for several hours or overnight.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Pour into a clean container, press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Place in your freezer to firm up.


Marie R said...

Thank you for your excellent blog! I'm a regular reader but this is my first comment. I have Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream book and, like you, found the sugar content to be relatively high. I typically use a scant 1/2 c. instead of the 2/3 c. used as the base measure for most of the recipes in the book. I've made a number of ice cream recipes from the book and highly recommend the chocolate (milk and dark), coffee, peanut, lemon, 'buckeye state' and salty caramel recipes. I've found that a medium-fat cream cheese produces a nicer texture than using full fat. I'm working on tweaking the frozen yogurt recipes and haven't yet tried any of the sorbets, but look forward to doing so. I also look forward to reading your blog every week and trying many of the recipes you feature. Thanks again!

pastry studio said...

Helloooooo, Marie! I'm so glad you decided to post a comment. Thanks very much for your take on Jeni's cookbook and I welcome your recommendations and suggestions on various flavors. I have my eye on some of the same ones you've tried, so I appreciate your feedback.

I think the sugar level in this particular ice cream is OK because of the tanginess of the goat cheese but I probably would do as you have with other flavors. I don't use cream cheese that much so didn't know there was a medium fat variety. I'll have to check that out.

Thank you!

Elly McCausland said...

Those cherries look fabulous! I often find cherries quite bland but I love them in salads with goats cheese, so am curious about this combination in the dessert realm. Really interesting recipe!

Barbara said...

I looked up the roasted cherry recipe; it looks wonderful and I will definitely try it. Your balsamic cherries worked well in the recipe.
I've never made ice cream with cream cheese and found the comment above to use a lower fat cream cheese for a better texture was not what I would have expected.
Great post!

Kris said...

I fondly remember browsing (and sampling!)the wares at the local cheese shop when I was a child in Germany as well as that first taste of goat cheese. It's still my favorite. This recipe looks delightful! Will be trying it out this weekend as well as looking for Splendid Ice Cream!

pastry studio said...

Kris, ah! - to have a local cheese shop that samples lots of cheese! Hope you enjoy the ice cream.