You may not realize that I’m a bit of a hermit. I do most of my socializing outside of my home, so when a friend suggested that I host an ice cream tasting party and I took her up on it, I’m not sure which of us was more surprised. I’ve lived in my apartment for 1-1/2 years and I’ve hardly had any guests (mostly family), but since I started working from home a few months ago, I have been a lot more motivated to be social. Plus, I can’t keep making as much ice cream as I’ve been making without sharing it! Still, I was nervous…except for a couple of very small Academy Awards get-togethers, I’ve never really thrown a party solo, and an ice cream social is a little different than a bring your own beer house party.
Choosing a date and coming up with a guest list weren’t too difficult. Deciding on the ice cream menu, however, was a different matter entirely. I thought I should have at least one “normal” flavor, but didn’t want to stick to chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla — why should people come to my house for ice cream they could get anywhere? When I started getting overwhelmed by possibilities, I decided to go with a seasonal theme and finally settled on six flavors. If you’re playing along at home, making six batches of ice cream was a little ambitious and I was exhausted by the time my friends arrived.
Rhubarb Sorbet: I decided on this flavor first. You may remember that my mom gave me enough rhubarb and Meyer lemons for two batches of sorbet a couple of weeks ago, so this was an easy choice and the first batch I made for the party. I really liked how it came out the first time, so I used the same recipe.
Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk: This was my token traditional flavor…come on, strawberry? No-brainer, unless you’re Jeff Bridges in Fearless. This was one of four recipes I took from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. My intention was to make an ice cream that would remind my friends from work of a popular strawberry pie I’ve made for a few potlucks. I had one particular friend in mind and well, she took seconds, so I’ll call it a hit.
Lemon Frozen Yogurt: Lemon is one of my all-time favorite flavors, which I’ve probably mentioned before. I also love yogurt and have been wanting to try a frozen yogurt flavor (I don’t know if the orange fleshed honeydew flavor I made a while back counts…it was kind of a hybrid). This recipe was also from Jeni’s, but I adjusted it a little. The recipe called for low fat plain yogurt, strained through cheesecloth and a sieve for 6-8 hours. I decided to use honey Greek yogurt instead. I think this was my favorite of the day.
Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Cranberry Swirl: The goat cheese base was from Jeni’s. I found a recipe for cranberry butter on Pinterest (http://www.the-baker-chick.com/2013/11/easy-cranberry-butter/) to swirl in. The recipe called for sugar, honey, or maple syrup as the sweetener. I used raw honey, which had a sort of odd, earthy flavor that I wasn’t too sure about, but no one else seemed to notice. I was pleased with the final result, but would probably use maple syrup next time. By the way, I never liked cranberry sauce until I learned how to make it in school when I was about 13. I’ve made it for just about every Thanksgiving for the last 30 years, but always change up the ingredients. This was the first smooth cranberry sauce I’ve done, and I liked it for this application, but will probably go back to a chunky compote next month.
Brown Sugar-Molasses with Candied Cashews: This was the wild card. I found this recipe at the last minute at the Scoop Adventures blog (this is where I found the curry banana flavor), but made a couple of changes. The original recipe (http://www.scoopadventures.com/brown-sugar-ice-cream-with-candied-pecans/) called for candied pecans, and I’m one of those oddballs who doesn’t like pecans. I like peanuts, almonds, and cashews, and have finally made peace with walnuts — as long as they’re toasted — but pecans are on the same list as hazelnuts and filberts. Yes, you read that right: I don’t like hazelnuts, which means you can keep the Nutella and Ferrero Rocher. I candied cashews instead and they were glorious. I didn’t have any oranges to zest, but did have an old bottle of Valencia Orange Peel in my spice collection, so I went with that. I also added some molasses to the base at the last minute. Maybe my palate was overstimulated from all the ice cream I was making, but I felt like the brown sugar base needed a little oomph and I love molasses. To my surprise, this was one of the party favorites.
Queen City Cayenne: This is the Jeni’s version of Mexican chocolate and it was even creamier, spicier, and more delicious than the recipe I made a few weeks ago. This recipe used about 1/3 less chocolate and no espresso powder. Served with some toasted almonds, this is high on my list for yummy ice creams…especially when you consider that I’m not choco-crazy.
My friends all seemed to mix well — not too much shop talk or dead air — and the afternoon was very low stress for this party newb. Everyone liked the mini dessert glasses and tiny spoons I used for serving and I tried to keep my disclaimers at a minimum. I experienced a few technical mishaps because I didn’t really give myself the right amount of time to make six (!) batches of ice cream, but even with a couple flavors being less frozen than I wanted, everything was fine.
My only regret is that I forgot to take any pics. Next time, I’ll have to assign the task to someone. Next time…now what am I going to make for my winter social?