I gave up on the rustic look for the spiced beet ice cream photo shoot. It wasn’t gonna happen. Hot pink appears a bit out of place on my earthy blog, but the flavor of the ice cream fits right in. It’s earthy, creamy and spicy at once. And what could be more fun to make when beets are rolling out of the garden and eggs out of the hen house?
So when I got the idea of using these rich red roots in ice cream, I naturally googled to see if and how others approached it. None of the existing choices grabbed me: Beets and cayenne pepper? Beets and poppy seeds? Um, no. Beets and orange? That’s better, but not really what I was fantasizing. So I started experimenting from scratch, and found beet ice cream with cloves and allspice was good, but it just kept screaming cinnamon. So here it is, with all three spices.
About the Ingredients
Use the red ones to get that garish but strangely appealing hot pink color. Read about the health benefits of the beet root here, so you can focus on all that folate, mangansese, and betaines and forget about the sugar and heavy cream when you consume this magenta extravaganza.
Oh, and I should mention that your batch will probably be a little lighter pink than what’s in the photo. The batch I used for the photo had 2/3 cup beet puree, but the batch that tasted best had 1/2 cup, as directed in the recipe below.
Milk and cream
Worried about saturated fat? Then buy dairy products grass fed cows. Their milk is richer in beneficial fats, and less rich in harmful fats. Read the excellent review on this topic by the Union of Concerned Scientists here.
I decided on the custard technique for spiced beet ice cream, because beets and eggs are seasonal contemporaries in the backyard and in the hen house. It’s more time consuming than other techniques, but done properly, a custard based ice cream has the best mouth feel, by far. Oh, and the use of whole eggs indicated in the recipe is not an error. Yes, I am one of the only people in the world who doesn’t use just yolks for a stirred custard, but whole eggs work just fine. If you feel you must use just yolks, substitute 6 yolks for 3 whole eggs.
Beets have a rather strong flavor that can mask the spices, so I had to use larger amounts of cinnamon, cloves and allspice than I expected. If anything I’d use even more next time around. If you like a lot of spice, try 20 cloves and 20 allspice pods. The 3 inch cinnamon stick is just about right, however.
Spiced Beet Ice Cream Recipe
While the beet puree makes this ice cream unique and delicious, remember that there can be too much of a good thing. I don’t recommend adding more than 1/2 cup to a 1 quart ice cream recipe. Been there, done that. The beets begin to leave a, well, beety after taste, and over powers the spices. It took my awhile to hit the right balance, and if you mess with it, don’t blame me if you don’t like the ice cream!
Make the beet puree
You will need 1/2 cup of beet puree for the ice cream.
- Three 2 to 2 and 1/2 inch diameter red beets
Cut the greens to about 1 inch from the root. Discard greens or reserve for another use.
- Wrap the beets in a piece of foil and roast at 450 degrees F until soft (1 to 1 and 1/2 hour).
- Let cool slightly, then peel them while running them over cold water.
- Puree until very smooth. You should have close to a cup of puree, a bit more than enough for the ice cream.
- Cool to refrigerator temperature before using.
Make the spiced ice cream base
Don’t let the number of steps in this recipe fool you. It’s no more difficult than any other custard based ice cream recipe. I’m just compulsive about instructions so that someone new to stirred custard technique could make this. Some of the big food sites would simply say “temper the eggs and then cook the base for 5-10 minutes until thickened”. I tell you how to temper the eggs and how to tell when the base is thickened.
- 3 whole large eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup tapioca syrup (Optional – can substitute with corn syrup, or if you omit entirely, use an additional 2-3 tbsp of sugar. The syrup keeps the ice cream slightly smoother and softer)
- 15 whole cloves, crushed
- 15 allspice pods, crushed
- A 3-inch length of cinnamon stick
- Combine all ingredients except for the eggs, in a medium saucepan, and heat, stirring, on medium-high until just beginning to simmer.
- Remove from heat, cover the pan, and let steep for about an hour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until yolks and whites are well blended. Set aside.
- Strain the steeped cream mixture into a 4 quart saucepan and discard the spices.
- Heat the strained cream mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches a bare simmer.
- Remove from heat, and temper the eggs by slowly drizzling about 1 and 1/2 cups the hot cream mixture into the eggs whisking the eggs.
- Carefully pour the tempered eggs into the 4 quart pan containing the rest of the cream mixture.
- Stirring constantly (preferably with a heat-proof rubber spatula, but a spoon will do), heat over medium-low until mixture thickens. It should be noticeably thicker than raw cream, and should coat the spoon well when ready. The temperature will be about 165-175 degrees F when it thickens, and it should take 7-14 minutes.
- Remove from heat, immediately pour into a clean bowl, and cool in ice water bath for about 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate until fully cooled, about 4 hours or overnight. It will thicken considerably as it cools.
Combine to make spiced beet ice cream with cinnamon, cloves and allspice
- Blend 1/2 cup of beet puree and ice cream base.
- Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer to a quart size container and put in freezer until ready to use.
Have you used beets in dessert recipes? Tell us what you thought about it!