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Bypass the freezer aisle and craft these chefs' gourmet ice creams at home

07/25/2012 6:23 PM

07/31/2012 1:37 PM

Move over, Blue Bell. Bye bye, Ben & Jerry.

These days, ice cream makers are nearly as prevalent in home kitchens as food processors. And with trendy gelato bars and yogurt shops on almost every corner, the standard for cool treats has risen far above store-bought contents in cardboard cartons.

With August's fiery days and steamy nights headed our way this week, up the ice cream ante at your gatherings with family and friends: Pass on the pre-purchased pints and craft a house-made version instead.

We asked local chefs for their most dreamy ice cream recipes, and from roasted strawberry-rhubarb to hazelnut-chicory, they're all scoops of delight -- totally worth the brain freeze.

Joshua Harmon

At The Milk & Honey Co. in Keller, Harmon roasts his strawberries whole before blending them with milk, cream and vanilla bean to create a smoky-sweet version of an ice cream classic.

The young epicurean is the restaurant owners' son but earned his executive chef's hat working for culinary notables Thomas Keller and Mario Batali.

A tearoom by day and cozy fine-dining spot by night, The Milk & Honey Co. serves finger sandwiches and salads for lunch and Harmon's rotating blackboard menu specials for dinner.

Harmon recommends thinly sliced rhubarb, easily candied by simmering in simple syrup, as a sweet-tart topping for this creamy dessert.

Lanny Lancarte

Lancarte, the dynamic young chef and owner of Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana in Fort Worth, says he requires bouts of travel both for inspiration and decompression.

"Without that, all of my ice cream flavors would be vanilla," he says.

On his current summer dessert menu, Lancarte merges sweet and savory components to produce pleasantly surprising ice cream fabrications, like brown butter and black pepper with rosemary.

Here, he shares a recipe for refreshing mango-avocado ice cream, on the menu and served with dark chocolate cake and raspberry coulis. We found it delightful with a glass of chilled prosecco.

Michael Thomson

Fort Worth chef Thomson of Michaels Cuisine Restaurant & Bar says he grew up on straightforward store-bought ice cream flavors like vanilla, chocolate and rocky road, but his grandmother's homemade fresh peach ice cream stands out as his childhood favorite.

It wasn't until Thomson visited the city of Dolores Hidalgo in central Mexico that he experienced the rich flavor of homemade ice cream again.

"On all four corners of the main plaza, you will find an ice cream vendor," Thomson says. "Tradition has each trying to outdo the other in their offerings of unusual flavors, something that chefs live for in food, but not always in ice cream. My favorite, the shrimp ice cream, is unlike anything you would imagine."

Thomson stays with a more approachable flavor here, using spicy chipotle for a twist on tropical piña colada.

Molly McCook and Richard King

This novelty pays tribute to Ellerbe Fine Foods owners McCook and King's Louisiana roots.

Lifelong friends and Shreveport natives, the Fort Worth restaurant duo uses chicory, an endive relative whose roots are often roasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute.

A chicory-coffee blend, touted as "Creole coffee," is an especially popular beverage in New Orleans.

McCook uses chicory ice cream as filling for a chocolate cookie sandwich, and the dessert is on the farm-to-table restaurant's summer menu. Top with Ellerbe's chocolate-chicory sauce for a true taste of the Crescent City.

Christina and Nehme Elbitar

Rose water, with its intensely perfumed fragrance, has been a popular flavoring for Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese cuisines for centuries.

The Elbitars make their own at their Park Place Avenue Mediterranean eatery, Chadra Mezza & Grill, in Fort Worth. Ice cream varieties change regularly, but rotating favorites include pomegranate, tamarind, Turkish coffee, spice cream and the aromatic rose water.

When making rose water syrup for this recipe, Christina Elbitar recommends reserving extra to use in soda floats or even with cheesecake.

Chipotle piña colada ice cream

Ice cream base

14 egg yolks

2 cups white sugar

5 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons Mexican pure vanilla or vanilla scraped from 1 whole bean

Flavor base

1/2 cup Coco Lopez cream of coconut

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup canned pineapple, drained

1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo, pureed

Pinch chipotle chile flakes

1 cup toasted coconut

1/2 cup pistachios, roasted and salted, chopped

Pinch fine sea salt

1. Make ice cream base: In a bowl over simmering water (or a double boiler), beat egg yolks and sugar until cooked to a consistency that forms ribbons.

2. In a saucepan, bring cream and vanilla just to a boil. Add cream to egg mixture slowly, so as not to scramble the eggs. Mixture should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove bowl from heat and cool over ice.

3. Make flavor base: In a mixing bowl, mix ingredients together well with a wooden spoon until incorporated.

4. In an ice cream maker, process ice cream base ingredients until ice cream is firm but still soft. Add flavor base mixture and continue to process until firm. Seal in a plastic container and keep frozen.

Chef's note: If an ice cream maker is not available, place ice cream base into a stainless-steel container and put into a freezer. During the freezing process, add flavor base and mix well several times. You may also add the flavor base to store-bought ice cream. Blend both with an electric mixer. Transfer into a sealable plastic container and keep frozen.

Nutritional analysis per 1/2-cup serving: 380 calories, 30 grams fat, 26 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 209 milligrams cholesterol, 69 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 69 percent of calories from fat.

-- Michaels Cuisine Restaurant & Bar, 3413 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-877-3413; www.michaelscuisine.com

Lanny's mango & avocado ice cream

Half a quart of half-and-half

7 ounces sugar, divided

1 ounce glucose or corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

15 egg yolks

1 mango, peeled and diced

1 avocado, peeled and pitted

1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice

1. Combine half-and-half, half the sugar, syrup and salt in a pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

2. Blend egg yolks with remaining sugar and whip until smooth. Slowly pour a little of the warm half-and-half mixture into egg mixture while whisking vigorously, then pour mixture back into remaining half-and-half (a process called tempering). Repeat this process until mixtures are combined.

3. Keep whisking mixture over a double boiler and heat to 180 degrees, or until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and chill.

4. Blend mango, avocado pulp and lime juice in a blender until combined. Mix into the chilled egg mixture.

5. Process mixture according to ice cream-maker instructions.

Nutritional analysis per 1/2-cup serving: 354 calories, 20 grams fat, 37 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 421 milligrams cholesterol, 112 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 51 percent of calories from fat.

-- Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana, 3405 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-850-9996; www.lannyskitchen.com

Chicory-hazelnut ice cream sandwiches with chocolate-chicory sauce

Chicory-hazelnut ice cream

Makes 1 quart

10 pasteurized egg yolks

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup ground chicory

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups half-and-half

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 ounces toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2. Place chicory in a fine sieve over a separate bowl and set aside.

3. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot, bring cream and half-and-half to a boil. Slowly pour cream mixture over ground chicory and discard the grounds.

4. While whisking, slowly pour infused cream into egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Transfer the entire contents of the bowl back into the saucepan or over a double boiler. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Cool ice cream base quickly in an ice bath.

5. Freeze ice cream base according to ice cream maker instructions. Once it is frozen, fold in hazelnuts and spread out over a parchment-lined jellyroll pan. Freeze overnight.

Chocolate cookie disks

Makes 24 individual cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sift flour and cocoa powder together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically.

3. Set mixer on low and slowly add flour mixture. Once it is incorporated, remove dough from mixing bowl and pat into a 1/2-inch-thick circle.

4. Dust the counter surface with cocoa powder and roll the dough out to an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut cookies out of the dough using a 3 1/8-inch fluted round cutter and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press remaining dough back together and re-roll until you have 24 cookies.

5. Bake cookies in a 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.

Chocolate-chicory sauce

1/3 cup ground chicory

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 cups heavy cream

1. Place chicory grounds in a small mesh strainer over a medium-size mixing bowl that contains the chocolate, and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, heat cream to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly pour over chicory grounds into the bowl with the chocolate. Discard chicory grounds.

3. Stir chocolate-cream mixture with a rubber spatula until combined and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble: Cut 12 circles of ice cream using a 2 1/2-inch circle cutter. Place one ice cream disk between two cookies and wrap with paper. Return to the freezer to set before serving. Serve the ice cream sandwiches with the warmed chocolate-chicory sauce and sweetened whipped cream.

Nutritional analysis per serving, with cookie disks and sauce: 898 calories, 71 grams fat, 62 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 387 milligrams cholesterol, 70 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 69 percent of calories from fat.

-- Ellerbe Fine Foods, 1501 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-926-3663; www.ellerbefinefoods.com

Rose water ice cream with rose syrup

Rose water

3 cups water

1 cup organic edible rose petals

Bring water and rose petals to a boil for 15 minutes. Strain rose petals. Add a bit red food coloring, if desired. Cool and reserve.

Syrup

1 cup rose water

2 cups sugar

2 citrus geranium leaves or juice from half a lemon

Combine rose water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add leaves or lemon juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store at room temperature.

Ice cream

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 cups half-and-half

4 ounces rose syrup

1. In a heavy saucepan, combine first five ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches at least 160 degrees. Remove from heat. Cool quickly by setting pan in ice and stirring the mixture.

2. Cover and refrigerate overnight or use to make ice cream immediately. When ready to make ice cream, pour mixture and rose syrup into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 409 calories, 24 grams fat, 48 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 118 milligrams cholesterol, 95 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 51 percent of calories from fat.

-- Chadra Mezza & Grill, 1622 Park Place Ave., Fort Worth, 817-926-3992; chadramezza.com

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