Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mastic Ice Cream

The only producer of mastic, also called masticha, is the island Chios in Greece, but it is used in many other countries (Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco) for sweets and pastries as well as liqueurs and chewing gums.

I tried mastic ice cream for the first time last summer on my trip to Greece. There's this really good ice cream shop called To Pagoto in Glyfada (Athens) where they have very unique flavors, like Tsoureki, a Greek Easter bread! And now, since I've been making quite a lot of ice cream and stumbled upon some mastic resin crystals (ok... really I looked for them in every gourmet market), I simply had to give it a try!

But there was no mastic ice cream in The Perfect Scoop! No problem: I just used David Lebovitz's method of making vanilla bean ice cream (French-Style), left out the vanilla bean and substituted it for ground mastic! I found that Kevin from Closet Cooking had also made this ice cream and decided to use some vanilla sugar just like he did.

The result was a creamy ice cream, with a slightly gummy texture (which I liked) and a hint of mastic flavor. I liked that the mastic taste wasn't too overpowering and would definitely place this ice cream in my top 5. I did have a hard time getting all the mastic off my pot, mortar and pestle and spoons though... I think I could have prevented this by grinding the mastic with some of the sugar...


Mastic Ice Cream
Adapted and modified David Lebovitz's
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Makes about 1/2 Liter (1/2 Quart)

1/2 cup whole milk
3/8 cup (75 g) vanilla sugar

1 cup heavy cream

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp mastic resin crystals

3 large egg yolks

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the mastic resin crystals. Warm the milk, sugar, ½ cup of the cream and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the ground mastic to the warm milk and stir. Remove from the heat and cover for about 30 minutes. There might be pieces of mastic that will have formed. (No worries, we will strain them out later!)

Pour the remaining ½ cup cream in a bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and slowly pour in the warm mixture (to temper eggs), whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan and constantly stir the mixture over low heat with a spatula, until mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly (even overnight) in the refrigerator. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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