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Cheater's Green Tea Ice Cream

Monday, September 27, 2010

In the last few weeks of summer, it is permissible to catch up on ice cream before the coming of sleet, rain and snowfalls, before the unforgettable slushy winter blues catch up with you and steal your soul, if only temporarily. Because I have been careful to avoid ice cream in the sweltering July days when it is most desirable, I felt especially entitled to a scoop or two. And what is lovelier than a scoop or two of green tea ice cream? If you have not tried it before, I recommend it very highly. And if you are into spice, ginger ice cream is also very good.
These two are traditional for Japan, and, following the Japanese cooking theme, I took this cheater's recipe for Green Tea ice cream from my boyfriend's out-of-print cookbook Cook's Encyclopedia of Japanese Cooking, which is quite spectacular as an encyclopedia of various japanese ingredients. It is a cheater's recipe because it does not involve actually making the ice cream. It is simply a way to flavor the store-bought ice cream. I found it astonishing that it is possible to re-freeze the ice cream without damaging its texture too much. Hence, for some of us lazy bums, this is a perfect way to create a custom flavor of any ice cream.
The green tea ice cream is made with matcha green tea powder. The green tea leaves harvested for matcha are grown in the shade, and have a more intense green color and sweeter flavor than other green tea varieties. These tea leaves are stone-ground to produce the violently green matcha powder, sold in Japanese specialty supermarkets and online.

What you need:
1 pint plain vanilla ice cream
2 Tbsp matcha green tea powder
1 Tbsp regular green tea powder (optional)
pomegranate seeds to decorate

How to do it:
It's almost idiotically simple. Place ice cream into the fridge to soften (~20 minutes). In the mean time, mix both tea powders with a tiny bit of water (~3Tbsp) until the result is a homogeneous paste with no clumps. Add as little water as possible. When the ice cream is soft (don't wait till it is dripping), mix 1/2 of the ice cream with the green tea paste, then add the rest of the ice cream and quickly fold in. Do not mix too vigorously. The ice cream should not be completely melted, but rather soft after mixing. Place the ice cream back into the container and re-freeze (takes about 1-2 hours). Before serving, decorate with pom seeds. They go especially well together.

There are many recipes for real home-made ice cream, and I am sure real green tea ice cream will be more tender and flavorful than this cheater's version. But it is a quick and easy way to make green tea ice cream as strong as you like it when there is none available.
I add 1Tbsp of regular green tea powder to make the ice cream taste more strongly of tea, because matcha alone has a very subtle flavor. I guess I lack the Japanese refinement. But using regular green tea powder alone will result in gray-colored ice cream, so make sure to get some matcha.
I also tried a batch with raw ground ginger and lemon zest. It came out very well, if you don't mind tiny chunks of ground ginger. The proper way to make ginger ice cream would be something like this culinary chef's post. However you make it, let your ice cream stretch the summer a little bit longer!

1 comment:

Nadia S. said...

Loooks tempting... I'll certainly try to find this green tea powder. This ice cream is a combination of pleasure and health benefits. To lessen your guilt... :)

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