Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pandan Coconut Ice Cream

Pandan, have you ever heard of it? Growing up, I ate many sweets flavored with Pandan, although I didn't really learn what it was until my early 20s. It is a common flavor used in Southeast Asian desserts, similarly to how Vanilla is used in most American baked goods. If you have ever been into an Asian bakery and seen bright green cakes and such, that gorgeous green hue is attributable to Pandan. I ate many green desserts as a child but honestly never knew what that distinct flavor was and always just thought the green color was from food coloring to make things more exciting.

However, in my adult years I started to see trendy Asian restaurants serving Pandan flavored desserts, and not until then did I realize I had been eating Pandan my whole life. My sister and I started to become obsessed with ordering beignets with pandan ice cream at one of our local sushi restaurants in Houston. Now that I live in Austin, I don't get to enjoy those delicious pillowy beignets and ice cream. When my sister decided to pay me a visit last weekend, we decided to make our own pandan ice cream! Great decision!

Pandan Coconut Ice Cream, adapted from America's Test Kitchen
(makes approximately 1 quart)

3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)
3/4 cup whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, split
4 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. Pandan paste

(1) Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a larger container of ice water. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar together until smooth. Set both bowls aside.

(2) Heat coconut milk, whole milk, heavy cream and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steam appears and the milk is 175 degrees F, about 5 minutes.

(3) Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. This tempering process will ensure that you do not curdle the egg mixture. Then slowly, whisk the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the remaining hot milk. Continue to cook the custart over medium heat until it very hot, but not yet simmering, about 180-185 degrees F.

(4) Strain the custard into the bowl that was setup in an ice bath. Immediately, add 3 tablespoons of Pandan paste into the custard and whisk until incorporated and mixture has cooled, about 10 minutes. Remove the custard bowl from the ice bath and cover with plastic wrap, touching directly onto the custard to prevent a "skin" forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled or overnight.

(5) If needed, make sure to freeze your ice cream maker bowl overnight. Once your mixture has cooled and your ice cream maker is ready, stir the custard mixture and pour into your ice cream machine canister. Churn, following the manufacturer's instructions, until the mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until the ice cream is firm.

Happy Churning!

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