Anyone who knows me well knows that I have one serious, irrepressible addiction: Ice cream. I otherwise have not much of a sweet tooth, but tempted by the siren song of frozen, creamy goodness, my will power withers and my salivary glands kick into overdrive.
Of course I am a devotee of our many local artisan makers; Bi-Rite Creamery‘s salted caramel is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned, and I adore Humphry Slocombe‘s quirky flavors like prosciutto or their top-seller, Secret Breakfast (corn flakes and bourbon). But the one ice cream that has most graced my table for the longest time is Häagen Dazs®.
Because I don’t favor sweets all that much, my tastes run to the simple. Truly, little makes me happier than a bowl of just good old vanilla ice cream. I don’t like a bunch of bits and chunks getting in the way of my enjoyment of the pristine, creamy goodness. But sometimes, it’s worth gilding the lily, just a little.
Green tea ice cream is another favorite of mine; the innate, gentle bitterness of green tea appeals to my savory tastes. But as an avid tea drinker, I’m also aware that some things enhance the flavor of tea, bring out its herbal and floral notes. For green tea specifically, strawberries provided amazing contrast with their sweet-tart zing, whereas crystallized ginger is a natural complement, bringing out the tea’s grassiness and leaving a palate-tempting burn on the finish.
You could just dump some cut berries and chunks of ginger on your ice cream, but a little effort creates something with more finesse and balance. I served this to friends who do not like ginger, and they were amazed at how the flavors blended and harmonized.
Green tea ice cream with strawberry soup and ginger gravel
For the ginger gravel:
4 oz crystallized ginger (I used Ginger People)
1/2 c. sugar
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blitz in one-second pulses until the ginger is broken down into fine crumbs. Lay out on a cookie sheet to dry further, up to 24 hours, raking with your fingers occasionally to avoid clumping. If it’s very humid, put the cookie sheet in a very low oven, checking frequently so as not to scorch, until dry. (I put my tray in the oven as it cooled after dinner to speed things along.)
For the strawberry soup:
1 pint (about 1 lb 2 oz/500 g) ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
1 tsp Gran Marnier or Cointreau
up to 1/4 c. sugar
Quarter strawberries. Combine strawberries and Gran Marnier in food processor or blender and blend until very smooth. Add up to 1/4 c. of sugar to taste and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Pass through a fine sieve, leaving seeds and pulp behind. You should have about 1.5 cups of puree. Chill.
Lay 1 Tbsp of the strawberry soup in a bowl, spreading in circles to fill the bottom of the bowl evenly. Scoop a quenelle of green tea ice cream. Sprinkle a generous pinch of the ginger gravel over. Serve immediately.