7 December 2012

Sinterklaas: Speculaas Ice Cream Sundae

By now Sinterklaas is well on his way back to Spain after another year of cautioning the naughty and rewarding the nice. My clogs will go back in the cupboard for another year and my Stap voor Stap (Step by Step) Dutch cookbook will slip onto the shelf until winter makes me think of Europe and meatball soup. Even so, I am not yet ready to put away my Speculaas Spice and as the Northern Hemisphere heads deep into winter we are finally getting  summer with 37 degrees expected in Melbourne on Saturday. It is definitely a time to be rewarded for a year of hard work and what better reward than Speculaas ice cream.
The one thing missing from my Sinterklaas this year was the large chocolate initial of my first name that is customarily received on Sinterklaas. I used to look with envy at my sister's broad chocolatey 'C' while my 'I' looked so narrow and paltry. Such is the angst of siblings, entirely unfounded of course because each letter is created of equal weight so while my 'I' was narrow it was also considerably thicker than the 'C'. One of those insights that only come with maturity! To get my chocolate fix I am adding an artfully alphabetic drizzle of Dutch Cocoa chocolate sauce and a dusting of the crispy crumbs that are all that remains of a big batch of Speculaas, to make a Sundae worthy of Sinterklaas.
Speculaas Ice Cream Ingredients:
  • 330 mls full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 4 cm length of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 200 grams dark brown sugar
  • 200 mls pure cream (not thickened with gelatine)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Speculaas Spice** (see Speculaas for mix)

  1. warm milk to just above body temperature - do not let boil - then remove from heat and add vanilla pod, sliced ginger, cloves and cardamom, set aside to infuse for 30 to 45 minutes
  2. strain to remove bits and pieces (you can wash your vanilla pod, let it dry then add it to sugar for a lovely vanilla sugar to use in baking)
  3. in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat combine brown sugar and cream and stir until the sugar is melted and you have a smooth butterscotch sauce, remove from heat
  4. whisk infused milk with the egg yolks and then whisking continuously so you don't scramble the eggs slowly add to the butterscotch sauce
  5. return to medium heat and stir continuously until mixture starts to thicken (approximately 10 minutes), enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon
  6. remove from heat and stir through the vanilla essence 
  7. allow to cool to room temperature then stir through the Speculaas spice and put in the freezer
  8. when mixture is almost fully set (approximately 4 hours), remove from freezer, scrape into a bowl and beat it for around 4 minutes with an electric mixer until fluffy. If it wasn't quite set and you do this it wont be as fluffy as you may hope, just pop it back into the freezer and 2 hours later beat it again for 2 minutes with the electric mixer), put back in the freezer until you are ready to eat

Ingredients for Mum's simple Chocolate Sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, I like Dutch processed cocoa
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 teaspoons butter

  1. combine sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium sized saucepan
  2. add water and stir together
  3. place over a medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved
  4. bring to boil, stirring down bubbles as they form (keep a close eye on it and keep stirring as if can boil up and over very quickly)
  5. allow to boil for 4 - 6 minutes (if you let it cook too long it will turn to chocolate toffee) 
  6. remove from heat, stir in vanilla and butter, the sauce will thicken a lot as it cools
  7. allow to reach room temperature then drizzle over ice cream and enjoy!
Notes on "Cinnamon slime":
The first time I made this ice cream I added the Speculaas Spice to the milk along with the vanilla pod etc, brought it almost to the boil then allowed it to infuse, after 45 minutes the milk was the texture of egg whites... quite disconcerting. I persevered with making the ice cream not knowing quite where I was going wrong, it tasted so good that I hoped freezing it would fix it. After the first freeze it was no different, after whipping and a second freeze it lost the slime factor but was still not the creamy consistency you want from ice cream, more like frozen jelly... altogether odd. 
After some thorough research on the internet I came across the phenomenon known as cinnamon slime... there is nothing added to the powdered cinnamon, and not all cinnamon will do it (theories abound regarding oil content in the cinnamon), but if you mix cinnamon with boiling water (especially a lot of cinnamon) and let it sit for 10 minutes you get cinnamon slime to rival anything the Ghost Busters may find living under the city of New York. Great for Halloween, off putting the rest of the year. Apart from the 'ewwww' factor, it is edible... forewarned is forearmed so hopefully you won't have to experience this. Unless of course you want to try adding a tablespoon of powdered cinnamon to a little boiling water for the fun of it.

I now add the cinnamon heavy Speculaas Spice right at the end before freezing when the creamy custard is about room temperature... no slime and wonderful tasting ice cream!

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