When I get an idea in my head it often rattles around until I make the opportunity to test it and see if what I was thinking was any good. I continue to ingest jalapenos at an alarming rate: shaved on top of smoked salmon on a bialy, underneath a cheeseburger, folded into a salad of tomatoes and mozzarella, and in another salad of white beans and artichokes. It is only time that the jalapeno would integrate itself into dessert. While eating another jalapeno spiked meal it dawned on me that these peppers would go quite will with brown sugar. What if we made a brown sugar and jalapeno ice cream? The key, we both concluded, was in emphasizing the raw pepper's earthy, tar-like aromas and flavors. So, we made a custard base with brown sugar, which we poured over raw shaved jalapeno. The heat of the base warmed the jalapeno just enough to increase the rate of flavor extraction so that once the jalapeno was covered in brown sugar base and given a quick stir, it was already time to strain.
We then cooled the base and churned it in the ice cream maker. The flavors of the brown sugar and jalapeno go quite well together. In fact, as you chew the ice cream, it is reminiscent of a spiced milk chocolate ice cream. The soft heat and earthy flavors of the jalapeno in conjunction with the brown sugar, unite to form a harmonious flavor.
As for the chew, yes, this is a chewy ice cream. We were fortunate enough to speak with Sean about his thickened olive oil and he noted that the product he used to make olive oil thick had also solved the mystery of chewy ice cream. What is funny is that I had an untouched sample of that particular product collecting dust in our kitchen. So, to our ice cream base we blended in 1% TIC Pretested Freedom Gum X-PGA/LV Powder. The blend of hydro colloids in the powder adds a viscosity and chew to the ice cream. When the ice cream is frozen it can then be scooped and cut with a knife and fork.
The ice cream is indeed rich and chewy. It coats the tongue luxuriously and melts down the back of your throat with a lingering smoky spice. It should be noted though that the addition of the freedom gum means that this ice cream must be eaten while still frozen. At warmer temperatures the texture is somewhat...unpleasant. So if your ice cream base does not seem to have the texture you're looking for before you freeze it, try it anyway. It's amazing what a change in temperature can do for texture these days.
Upon reflection, I must note that we would not have been able to add the final textural characteristics without Sean's generosity in sharing his own discoveries and culinary advancements. We are very lucky to have friends and colleagues who are so willing to offer up their own experiences and inspirations. We all reap the benefits from these interactions.