I recently discovered orange blossom water. It smells great. I think it would make a lovely, inexpensive perfume. But the strength of the smell of it makes it seem a little odd to put in food. It's too - perfumey - to seem like something you'd like to eat. But I'm here to tell you to use this stuff. It's great. I've adapted the drunken cherries with orange blossom chenna that I made previously into an ice cream. And it's a resounding success, if I do say so myself.
After discussing with my friend Dr. Ricky, I decided to start this recipe by making an orange zest extract. If you bought this straight from Absolut, they would no doubt call it Absolut Zest, or Absolut Microplane. Or something.
For 1 quart ice cream, use the zest from:
1 ½ oranges
4 ½ tbsp vodka
Soak overnight, then press through a fine sieve to get out the orange zest chunks.
Save this for later. While it's soaking, you can prepare the custard.
For 1 quart ice cream:
1 cups milk¾ cup sugar1 ½ cups heavy cream½ cup mascarpone cheesepinch salt6 large egg yolks2 tbsp vodka/orange zest infusion (Absolut Zest)2 ½ tbsp orange blossom water1/3 cup pistachios
Heat the milk, cream, sugar and salt. Get them nice and warm, stirring constantly, to around 140°F (a kitchen thermometer is inexpensive and will make all of this much easier - so I recommend you get one). Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks into a foamy mess. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the beating eggs. If you get this right, you get an emulsion, and increase the odds of getting a custard instead of scrambled eggs. If you're worried about getting this wrong, add the first few bits of hot milk a ladelful at a time. It's less important to go slow as you add more milk, so only the first few ladelfuls need to be done super slow.
When this is all mixed, put back on the stove and heat slowly to 175°F. Stir constantly with a flat-edged spatula so that you're scraping the bottom of the pot.
As soon as it hits 175°F, take it off the stove, and put it into a separate container to stop the cooking immediately. *If* you get this wrong and it starts to curdle, you can still stop the cooking and run an immersion blender through it. It's not ruined if you stop it as soon as you see signs of curdlage. Okay. Now put this custard in the fridge and chill overnight.
Shell the pistachios and chill them so they'll be ready for the big day.
Four to six hours before you're ready to run the ice cream through the ice cream maker, start making the drunken cherries:
1 lb cherries, stemmed, pitted, and quartered1 tbsp sugar1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise4 tbsp sake
Scoop out the yummy smelling vanilla seeds, mix all the ingredients, and refrigerate. Every hour, go in and mix them up a bit. If you let this mix sit too long you'll have cherry soup instead of solid cherries.
At ice cream time, mix the mascarpone cheese, the absolut zest and the orange blossom water into the custard. Run this through your ice cream maker as per your instructions (mine took about 20 minutes to set). Right at the end, fish the vanilla bean out of the cherries. Toss the pistachios into the ice cream maker, then pour in the cherries and cherry juice.
Shut off the ice cream maker as soon as you've added all this good stuff, and pour the whole mixture into a container and toss it in the freezer to harden up.
This is delicious! Fruity. Bright. Fresh. The perfuminess of the orange blossom water mellows properly in the fat of the cream. Really, really tasty. And it loses the texture issues that its forbear has. This was really fun to make. Perhaps the only way this could be better is to make the cherries a bit smaller (as they freeze pretty hard). Yum!