Gianduja (Hazelnut & Milk Chocolate) Ice Cream

The combination of hazelnuts and milk chocolate is absolutely divine – so I was excited to find the recipe for gianduja gelato in David Lebovitz’s ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop. Gianduja is an Italian chocolate that was created in the Piedmont region when cocoa was in short supply, so hazelnuts were added to the chocolate to give it more substance! Gianduja should be incredibly smooth, like a praline but using hazelnuts instead of almonds.

I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this basically Nutella? In fact, Nutella started off as a gianduja paste, which was then developed into the spread which has become so popular today (click here for an interesting blog post on the full history). While it’d be much easier to use a jar of the moreish chocolate-hazelnut spread to make my recipe, I didn’t want to risk my ice cream becoming too sweet, and I like a bit of a challenge! Apparently the best gianduja will contain up to 50% hazelnut, so I made sure to be generous with the nuts and to try to extract as much flavour from them as possible.

 

Making the hazelnut ice cream base involved: (1) toasting the hazelnuts to a delicious golden brown; (2) blitzing up the nuts into a fine crumb-paste; (3) mixing the paste into the milk and cream base; (4) resting the entire mixture for an hour or so to let the hazelnut flavour infuse into the milk and cream. The hazelnut paste is then sieved out and you’re left with an rich and aromatic ice cream base that is ready for the custard and milk chocolate.

 

This is a seriously tasty ice cream with a fantastic balance of flavours between the hazelnuts and the milk chocolate – neither ingredient overpowering the other. It does take more effort to make but I promise you it’s worth it!

IMG_8993 (2).JPG

Eating the World: Mallorca

Holidays give you a dangerous taste of what life is like away from work… and our week in Mallorca was delicious. I don’t quite want to accept that I’ve come back to reality, so I’m writing this post to wallow reminisce.

We visited so many beautiful places – the dramatic Tramuntana mountain range and the little towns tucked away in the valleys, the hidden calas with the most turquoise waters I’ve ever seen, and the incredible Es Pontas, a gigantic natural rock arch with one of the most difficult deep water solo routes.

IMG_8532

Being on holiday was no doubt another excuse to eat as much as we physically could. We had so much tasty seafood paella, tapas and most importantly… ice cream! These were my three favourite flavours from the trip!

IMG_8855

1. Crema catalana

I found out that this is a popular Spanish dessert, kind of like a creme brûlée. The ice cream was wonderfully creamy and custard-y, but what made it special was the flecks of caramelised sugar throughout the ice cream – so good

IMG_8648

2. Tiramisu

We came across this brightly decked out gelateria in Valldemossa. This was our first stop along our mini road trip through Serra de Tramuntana and I absolutely loved this small town in the mountains! I had a lovely time browsing the shops selling Spanish wares (though admittedly it was all very touristy) and marvelling over the amazing views. 

This gelato was the perfect treat on this hot day, and I particularly liked the swirl of coffee / chocolate sauce. 

IMG_8900

3. Kinder bueno

This was a sweet after-dinner treat along the Pollença seaside (and I’m pretty sure this was our second ice cream of the day so we conservatively shared a scoop). 

IMG_8823

All in all, this was an wonderful getaway and I can’t wait to visit again. For now, I’m feeling semi-rejuvenated and will have to go back to exploring London for new and tasty ice creams! 

Chai & Speculoos Ice Cream

Following the success of my tea & biscuits ice cream, I decided to continue the theme with a different tea and to pair it with another type of biscuit. I have a feeling that I’ll be trying a few more variations, so do let me know your favourite tea and biscuit combination in the comments below!

English breakfast is usually my go-to tea, but if I’m feeling something with more flavour and warmth, I really like masala chai. Whether it’s brewed in hot water with a splash of milk, or made into a chai latte, I love how the blend of spices (cinnamon, cloves, anise, cardomom, ginger) lift a simple black tea.

The house chai at Dishoom (various branches in London) is one of my favourites since it has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy – and you get unlimited refills! At home, I like Tea India‘s chai – you can smell the amazing spices the minute you open the box, and each teabag is packed with plenty of flavour.

IMG_8518 (2)

I wanted to find a biscuit that could match the strong flavours of the chai and was torn between gingersnaps and speculoos. I think either of those biscuits would’ve paired well, but I decided on speculoos in the end as I wanted a more cinnamon-flavoured ice cream.

Speculoos is traditionally a Christmas cookie that originates from the Netherlands and Belgium. It’s laced with similar spices to chai – cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom – but also pepper and nutmeg. I used Lotus’s Biscoff biscuits for my recipe, but I’m definitely planning to make some of these biscuits from scratch at some point!

Like my milk tea ice cream, I steeped 5 tea bags’ worth of chai in the milk and cream mixture before making the custard. I also added a few extra pinches of cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg. My kitchen was filled with the aroma of all the spices and it started to remind me of Christmas 🙂

IMG_8519 (2)

This ice cream also turned out wonderfully, with the speculoos complementing the creamy chai ice cream perfectly. I’m starting to think you can’t go wrong with this tea and biscuits combination! I’m thinking of doing an earl grey ice cream next…!

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

Even though it’s only August, it’s already getting cooler and the days are getting shorter here in the UK… but as if that would stop me from making more ice cream! I love ice cream in all seasons, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with more autumnal and winter flavours (mmm mince pie perhaps?). But for now, summer’s not quite over yet, so I’m taking advantage of the remaining sunshine and beautiful fresh fruits.

Raspberry ripple is a classic British flavour which wonderfully showcases the sweet and tangy berries. I love the balance between the velvety dairy ice cream and the fresh berry coulis – this ice cream also looks amazing with its lovely scarlet-purple swirls, and is sure to impress friends and family.

IMG_6836

Inspiration

London was going through an unbearable heatwave, so we decided to escape our furnace of a flat and head down to Bournemouth for a day. Turns out the rest of south-west England had the same idea, as the beaches were completely packed! It was such a lovely day, lounging under the sun and going for a paddle in the sea.

It might’ve been the heat, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I had one of the tastiest ice creams ever from a small beach-side hut. This scoop of raspberry ripple meringue had light ribbons of raspberry through it, with crunchy pieces of meringue swirled in as well.

IMG_8324

Creation

I’ve made raspberry ripple ice cream a few times now, and most recently I decided to make a version with not only raspberries, but also blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. This gave the coulis a deeper purple colour and a tangier flavour (so I probably should’ve added more sugar).

Summer berry coulis

  • 250 g mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  1. On a medium heat, gently cook the berries with the sugar and lemon juice. 
  2. Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash any stubborn berries. 
  3. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the mixture has reached a jam-like consistency. 
  4. Let the mixture cool, then blitz in a blender until smooth. 
  5. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. 
  6. The remaining coulis can now be used to swirl through ice cream, yogurts, oatmeal or as a topping for other desserts – enjoy!

The ice cream turned out really well, and it looks gorgeous too! It’s so delicious served on its own, or with a handful of fresh berries on the side.

IMG_8475 (2)

Tea & Biscuits Ice Cream

Tea is basically the lifeblood of the British people and since moving to the UK in 2012, I’ve adopted this national beverage as part of my regular diet as well. There’s something so comforting about a big mug of English breakfast tea, especially during the cold winter months (and the cold summer days in London, recently!). Yorkshire Tea is my personal favourite, and I enjoy my tea with a splash of milk and no sugar.

That being said, I’ve loved milk tea long before coming to England – in Hong Kong, milk tea is also a staple in cha chaan tengs (a typical fast food restaurant that serves a fusion of Chinese/Western cuisine – I’m getting nostalgic just thinking about them). Hong Kong-style milk tea is has a distinctively smooth and deep tea flavour and it’s so delicious whether served hot or over ice. It’s made using black tea, evaporated milk and sugar, but what makes the tea so incredibly smooth is that the tea leaves are strained using a sack-cloth back (kind of like a silk stocking, which is why it’s sometimes called ‘pantyhose’ tea!).

This ice cream recipe celebrates both versions of the humble milk tea, and I hope I’ve done it justice!

IMG_8135

Inspiration

Via Tokyo (Shop 1A-1B, G/F, Leishun Court, 106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay)

Via Tokyo is one of Hong Kong’s most popular dessert cafes, serving a range of Japanese desserts and in particular, the most indulgent soft serves. Their classic flavours include Matcha (this in itself is worth a separate post), Hokkaido milk and Hojicha, but for awhile they had an amazing Royal Milk Tea flavour, which inspired me to create this recipe!

IMG_2672 (2)

Creation

To take my milk tea flavoured ice cream to the next level, I decided to add some texture by crumbling one of my favourite biscuits into the mix – chocolate digestives! Not proud to admit that I devoured many packs of these biccies whilst at university (seriously, the chocolate caramel version is crack to me).

I used my usual custard base, but steeped several tea bags’ worth of Yorkshire Tea in the milk & cream mixture for an hour before adding the egg yolks and remaining sugar. To achieve the silky smooth texture, I passed the ice cream mix through a sieve a couple of times before churning it in the machine.

IMG_8124 (2)

I’m so happy with how this ice cream turned out in the end – there’s a lovely tea flavour, it’s not too sweet and the bits of chocolate biscuit make this dessert so addictive!

Let me know what your favourite tea and biscuit combination is in the comments below – unless you’re more of a coffee person… 😛 Thanks for making it all the way down this fairly long post – hope you liked it!

IMG_8204

Strawberry Quartet – Four Delicious Ways to Enjoy Strawberries this Summer

Summer is in full swing here in London, so I thought I would share four (or technically three) ways to prepare my favourite fruit of the season – strawberries! I served these together, but you can also have them separately, or paired with other desserts.

IMG_8355 (2)
(From top, going clockwise) – roasted strawberries, marinated strawberries, strawberry ice cream and a fresh strawberry

1. Fresh strawberries

Okay, okay this is a bit of a cheat as there’s not much preparation to do – but sometimes fresh fruit should just be enjoyed as it is, with nothing else added.

That being said, here are three tasty ways to prepare this beautiful fruit.

2. Roasted strawberries

IMG_8354.JPG

Roasting the strawberries gives the fruit a more concentrated, sweeter flavour. The berries end up with a gooey and syrupy texture, meaning they’re best paired with something else (e.g. ice cream, oatmeal, bircher muesli, toast), rather than eaten on their own (though I wouldn’t stop you!).

Ingredients

  • 200 g strawberries
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  2. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters (if large).
  3. Mix all the ingredients together.
  4. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning them halfway.

3. Marinated strawberries

IMG_8348 (2)

This is a delicious recipe that heightens the sweetness of the strawberries, while keeping them extremely fresh. I love the extra zing! that the mint and lemon zest provides to the fruit. Again, like the roasted strawberries, these are a great topping for other desserts or breakfasts.

Ingredients

  • 200 g strawberries
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar (you could use a natural liquid sweetener, if you prefer)
  • 5 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1/4 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the strawberries into quarters.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film.
  3. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, and longer for a more syrupy result.

4. Strawberry ice cream

IMG_8081 (2)

Despite being such a simple flavour, strawberry ice cream is one of the hardest ice creams to get right. Often, it can end up with small ice crystals because strawberries are over 90% water! Therefore, you have to start with the highest quality strawberries which are super sweet (rather than pale and watery) to make this ice cream.

Some recipes say to cook the strawberries first before mixing it with the ice cream base (e.g. David Lebovitz’s Roasted Strawberry & Miso Ice Cream), but I wanted to retain the naturally fresh flavour of strawberries, so I chose to puree the fruit before combining it with my usual custard base.

My ice cream has a light, fragrant note of strawberries, but unfortunately the berries I used weren’t as ripe and sweet as they should’ve been. Thankfully, there were no crunchy ice crystals!

This is a lovely ice cream to enjoy on its own, or with another dessert. I love the combination of strawberries, white chocolate and matcha, so I paired this ice cream with some homemade matcha blondies (recipe to come).

IMG_8195

This has been a pretty long post – so I’m glad you’ve made it down here! Let me know what your favourite way of eating strawberries this summer.

Dark Chocolate Sorbet – Part 2

Creation

After tasting two wonderful dark chocolate sorbets from La Gelatiera and Udderlicious (see Part 1 of this post for more details), I had to give my own recipe a go – and you can too!

IMG_8312

This frozen dessert is so simple and quick to make – most of the ‘cooking’ time is churning the sorbet and chilling it in the freezer. Honestly, the most challenging part of this recipe was resisting the temptation to drink the warm chocolatey mixture before it cooled and went into the ice cream machine!

The simple base of this recipe only has four ingredients – water, sugar, cocoa powder and dark chocolate. I also added vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt to elevate the flavours.

If you’re interested – I used David Lebovitz’s recipe, published on Food52, and made a few of my own tweaks to it.

My sorbet turned out surprisingly well, with a deep chocolate flavour and a rich texture. I think I’ll try a different brand of chocolate next time, and sieve the mixture before churning it to get a smoother result.

IMG_8341

There are so many possibilities from a simple base like this – you could add:

  • Nuts – hazelnuts or pistachios would work well;
  • Spices – perhaps cinnamon or chilli; or
  • Fruit – orange extract or raspberry coulis pair nicely with dark chocolate!

IMG_8323

The possibilities are endless – let me know your ideas in the comments!

 

 

Dark Chocolate Sorbet – Part 1

Inspiration

Not going to lie, I was a bit sceptical when I heard about this dairy-free dessert. I couldn’t imagine how a sorbet could have the rich texture of an ice cream!

Essentially, sorbet has a base of water / fruit and sugar; whereas ice cream has a base of milk, cream or a combination of both. Given the obvious difference between these ingredients – I was pleasantly surprised when I tried these dark chocolate sorbets from two great spots in London recently.

1. La Gelatiera (Stratford) – Extra dark chocolate with Calabrian chilli

IMG_8237I visited La Gelatiera’s lovely cafe in East Village with my sister and boyfriend after our 10K race at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The race was great fun, though exhausting, so seeing the signs pointing to GELATO drew me in instantly. I needed an energy boost and this sorbet did just that!

This was a velvety and luxurious dark chocolate sorbet which had the same richness as an ice cream. I was impressed by the deep flavour of the chocolate, and really liked the kick of chilli at the end of each bite (or lick). As a bonus, it’s also vegan.

The only issue I had with this was that I felt it left a slight residue on my tongue afterwards, but it could just have been the particular batch, as I’ve not had this issue with any of their other flavours in the past!

2. Udderlicious (Covent Garden) – Dark chocolate and sea salt

img_8294.jpgAs a complete coincidence, I also had this delicious duo of sorbets after a 10K race (the British 10K around Central London!). I feel like the run completely justifies having dessert before lunchtime!

I had a dark chocolate and sea salt sorbet and also a peach and raspberry daiquiri sorbet. Two contrasting flavours – the chocolate was very creamy while the peach and raspberry was light and fresh – but both were fantastic.

I’d highly recommend a trip to Udderlicious if you haven’t been before as they have some of the most delicious flavours London has ever seen (I really like their matcha & chocolate chip ice cream too).

I was so impressed by these two experiences that I had to give it a go myself – you won’t believe how easy it is to make as well!

Check out Part 2 of this post to see how my own dark chocolate sorbet turned out…!