I'm a bit ice cream crazy right now. Not that I really needed to point out something that's out there for the world to see, both here on the blog and on my twitter feed. I blame it all on summer, and on that David Lebovitz. It's his new book, The Perfect Scoop, that's got everything churning, eating and talking ice cream! If you haven't got it yet, I'd get one, immediately. His recipe for Malted Milk Ice Cream -which my friend The Amateur Gourmet Adam loved so much he composed a song about it on his blog- is what's on my dessert menu this weekend.
Ice cream is not, however, my only infatuation of the moment. I've also gone mad about brown butter. For this I blame Jeffrey Steigarten and his brown butter article in Vogue a month or two ago. (It doesn't appear to be online so I couldn't link to it, sorry.) In it, Jeffrey not only sang praises, no, composed odes, to brown butter. He also gave an ingenious cookie recipe from a friend in Thailand, which I'm going to try very soon.
The French name of brown butter, beurre noisette, came from the wonderful hazelnut aroma that develops after the butter has been melted and cooked until golden brown. It adds such an intense aroma and wonderful flavor to pretty much anything. Most of the flavor in brown butter comes from caramelized fat solids, the brown bits floating in the sea of golden butter. Though most refined French recipe calls for straining the brown butter before use, I find that if the brown butter is cooked correctly, that is to say it's not overly burnt, it's actually better to leave the brown solids in it. (Michael Ruhlman did a thorough piece on brown butter a while back, go there if you need more information on this.)
My brown butter ice cream recipe is a result of an experiment. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a quest: one to see how much brown butter I can get away with adding into a pretty classic, basic ice cream base recipe. I want my brown butter ice cream to actually taste like brown butter, not just hinting at it. I also don't want any other flavoring that would interfere with the pure flavor of brown butter, so you won't find gratuitous vanilla or brown sugar or anything of the sort here. It's just ice cream base and brown butter. The amount I ended up with is the ratio of 1:3 butter to other dairy, that is to say, a @#$% load. (Yes, that is a technical term.)
How do I go about blending 8oz of liquid fat into an ice cream base? With a blender. Yes, your regular old blender. It does the work for you with no sweat at all. The result? Smooth, creamy ice cream that is unmistakably brown butter-y. So easy I can say it's almost fool-proof. Try it and you'll see how beautifully it works. This method has been working so well I'm now fantasizing about how to use all kinds of other liquid fat in my ice cream. That olive oil gelato, like the one I love so much at Otto, might just be next.