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Creamsicle ice cream gets a sophisticated spin with a vibrant carrot ginger puree swirled right in. Seriously delicious, y’all!
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When my brother and I were kids, my family almost always spent Christmases in Plainfield, New Jersey with Auntie Ev and Uncle Ray. Uncle Ray had been a vice president with Macy’s and had traveled all over the world as part of his job. Their home was filled with vases and furniture and crystal and artwork from China and Europe and the Middle East. Paintings and prints lined their walls. To my child’s eyes, they all were pleasant enough but unremarkable. What I mean is that none of them made me feel anything.
And then there was John.
I don’t know what his real name was, but he sat behind a desk and used a silver letter opener to tear open some correspondence. He looked as if he’d just seen a bug scurrying across the floor, and his eyes followed me wherever I was in the room. I could even stand against the wall on which John hung, turning my head to see him peering around the picture frame.
I was terrified of John.
When I got older, Uncle Ray took great delight in hanging John in whatever room I’d be staying in for the holidays. One year, he decided to mix things up a bit. When I entered my room, it was to find John lying on my bed, staring at me with his creepy eyes and his “I just saw a bug” sour face. Merry Christmas to me.
A few years before he died, Uncle Ray made sure to let everyone know that I was to own John after his death. Good one, Uncle Ray.
John now lives in the closet in our guest room. Thank you for the windfall, Uncle Ray.
And now, it’s payback time.
Uncle Ray did not like carrots. I don’t like carrots either. When we went to Auntie Ev and Uncle Ray’s house for dinner, Auntie Ev often served buffet style. There were almost always carrots, and since I was in control of my plate, those little guys never made it onto mine. But Auntie Ev was in charge of Uncle Ray’s plate for some reason, and she always gave him a few carrots. She said it would help build character. He never ate them; he just sort of slid them under the blade of his knife as if it were an invisibility cloak.
“Oh, Raymond,” Auntie Ev would say.
I still don’t like carrots, but carrot puree seemed like such a natural pairing with orange that I went for it. And I really like it. It’s sweet, yes, but it also has a sparkle and just a bit of heat from both crystallized and ground ginger, some earthiness from the carrot and brightness from orange juice and zest. It is sunshiny and surprisingly delightful.
My gift isn’t as much of a doozy as John, but Uncle Ray, this carrot puree is for you. I wish you were still here to shove it under your fork.
And this ice cream is for all of you.
If you’re a fan of the vanilla orange combination, you are going to love this ice cream. Many recipes I read for creamsicle ice cream called for cooking orange juice into the mix, but I went for a mixture of a ton of fresh zest and several drops of orange oil. The result is a very perfumy orange flavor that you can smell and taste at the same time. It’s quite lovely. As a matter of fact, I scooped out about a cup of the churned base to enjoy plain and swirl-less.
The orange flavor is echoed in the puree, nicely tying the two together. Make this with the swirl or without. I think you will really like it either way!
For the Creamsicle Base
- 1 quart (32 oz) half and half (or two cups each whipping cream and whole milk)
- 4 large oranges, , boiled for a few seconds to remove wax and well scrubbed, zested
- 8 oz granulated sugar
- 4 oz light corn syrup
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 Tablespoons corn starch
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 oz softened cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- several drops orange oil, , to taste
For the carrot puree
- 6 oz washed and peeled carrots, , as sweet as you can find, cut into 1" pieces
- juice of 1 large orange
- 1.5 oz honey, (orange blossom is ideal)
- 1.5 oz granulated sugar
- .5 oz corn syrup
- .5 oz crystallized ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- heavy pinch salt, , to taste
- zest of half an orange
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
For the Creamsicle Base
- Combine the half and half and zest. Heat over medium heat until barely steaming.
- Set aside and let the zest steep in the half and half for 30 minutes.
- Strain well, pressing down lightly on the solids. Discard the zest.
- Combine the zestified half and half with the sugar, corn syrup, yolks, corn starch and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Cook, whisking constantly, over medium to medium-high heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
- Allow to boil for 10-15 seconds. Keep whisking.
- Strain the mixture into a large metal bowl containing the cream cheese and vanilla.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Add orange oil, one or two drops at a time, until you like the flavor. I think I used about 8 drops, but use as much or as little as you want to achieve your desired orange-y-ness.
- Set the bowl in an ice bath and cool, stirring occasionally. Chill base until it is no more than 40F.
For the Puree
- Combine all ingredients except lemon juice in a small saucepan.
- Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
- Remove the lid and adjust heat so the mixture continues at a high simmer, reducing the liquid until somewhat syrupy, about 10 more minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- This makes about 1 cup of puree and was too little to puree in my blender. I processed mine in the small bowl attachment of my food processor. Get it as smooth as you can because you're not going to be straining it. I think I processed mine for about 4-5 minutes.
- Cool and then chill. Place in a small zip-top bag or pastry bag and leave in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
Putting it Together
- Churn the Creamsicle base according to your manufacturer's directions.
- While the ice cream is churning, pipe about 1/3 of the carrot puree in the bottom of you container.
- Place your container in the freezer until the ice cream is ready.
- Layer 1/3 of your ice cream base on top of the carrot puree and spread it smoothly.
- Pipe on another third of the puree, followed by another third of the base, the last of the puree and then the base.
- Swirl all the layers together gently with the blade of a knife.
- Press plastic wrap on the surface of your ice cream, put the lid on (if you container has a lid) and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
- This ice cream is at its creamy, scoopable best after only about five minutes sitting out at room temperature.
Enjoy this ice cream, friends. And enjoy those nearest and dearest to you. Because one day, all you will have left to remember them by is a terrifying painting in your guest room closet.Thank you so much for spending some time here today. Have a lovely day.
PS I am no longer afraid of John. And one day, I will find the right spot for him and he’ll hang on a wall in our home. Probably in the guest room…