Friday, June 25, 2010

Pear and Caramel Ice Cream with Rasperry Topping

I've loved ice cream for as long as I can remember.  So it was only natural when I started cooking everything myself that I would eventually start making fabulous ice creams as well.  My fella was even awesome enough to buy me the best ice cream making book ever, David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, for my birthday last year.  I started playing around with making some of the recipes with agave and fructose for the French Diet but never got around to posting about them because I was too busy licking the ice cream maker clean after each experiment.

More recently this same book has been just left sad and lonely sitting on my shelf as I did the elimination diet and found out how truly ill dairy in all forms makes me.  My body can try to deny me many things but the only thing I will not give up is ice cream.  Even if I have to buy $6 pints of coconut milk ice cream sweetened with agave nectar at Whole Foods I will neglect myself other things to afford that ice cream.  So I decided to go back to my favorite ice cream book and start cooking dairy free sugar free versions of some of David Lebovitz's recipes. 

I will not give up ice cream and I will not leave my favorite dessert cookbook to get dusty on the shelf.  So in between moving and looking for a new job in a new city across the country I'm going to treat myself to homemade dairy free ice cream.  This will be the summer that I dare to make dairy free ice cream amazing.

My first experiment was with the Pear Caramel Ice Cream I'd made a couple of times before with heavy cream and really enjoyed.  It's a simple recipe so I didn't have to make a lot of substitutions to make it work as a dairy free recipe.  The toughest part was playing with caramelizing agave nectar.  It is possible but it doesn't quite give the thick, dark, and slightly scorched flavor of caramelized sugar however.  But like many things in sugar free or gluten free cooking if you stop thinking about what you're missing and focus on the new flavor you're discovering its still super delicious.

Pushing the pears through a sieve is a pain in the butt, I know but it is worth it for the creamy texture the process gives you.  If you don't care then by all means eat the grainy slightly chunky mixture as it is or give it a go round in your food processor to break it up a bit.

This ice cream is even better with some raspberry topping to add a tartness to the almost overpoweringly sweet caramel ice cream.  And if you're really feeling out going this all goes great on my Gooey Hazelnut Flour Brownies.  These three things together make the ultimate dessert. But worry not the highly decadent ice cream holds up very well on it's own.   I end up eating the whole batch before I even have time to turn on the oven.

When your agave nectar starts to look like this you've achieved caramel.

Pear Caramel Ice Cream

3 medium-sized ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 scant cup of agave nectar
2 cups full fat coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
a few drops lemon juice

Pour the agave nectar into a heavy saucepan, cooking over medium high heat while watching it very carefully.  When it darkens and starts to look like the picture above (this will take awhile, 10 to 15 minutes) begin pushing the liquid around with a heat proof spatula so the middle doesn't burn.

When the agave is a uniformly dark color and syrupy thick stir in the diced pear.  The caramel might become hard or make scary hissing noise but don't be afraid keep adding the pears and stirring the mixture for about 10 minutes or until the pears are cooked through.

Remove the pot from the heat and add about 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and stir.  Now add in the rest of the coconut milk and a couple drops of lemon juice.  

Let this mixture cool to almost room temperature then puree in the food processor until smooth.  Press this mixture though a mesh strainer or sieve with your flexible spatula.  This will remove the tough fibers of the pear.

Chill this mixture then run it through your ice cream maker.

Recipe adapted to be dairy and sugar free from a David Lebovitz recipe in the Perfect Scoop.

Raspberry Topping

handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
drizzle of agave nectar
water, as needed

Drop the raspberries and a generous drizzle of agave nectar into the food processor and blend.  If it is too thick add a small amount of water until you get the consistency you like.  Use to top the Pear Caramel Ice Cream.  This also is a nice topping for your oatmeal in the morning.

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