Mardi Gras season is upon us, and since this is my first Mardi Gras I am trying to experience as much of it as I can. Although the weather has been rainy and chilly, I have attended three parades and there are many more to come this weekend. Mardi Gras parades are like no other parade experience. Standing among historic houses along live oak-lined streets, watching the elboratedly themed floats ride by with the bright lights flashing and music playing. The Krewes (people riding the floats) roll along in their creative (and sometime provacative) costumes. Dancers tap their way down the pavement and bands project music into the air. Its a little bit of choas mixed with a lot of fun. I suggest everyone try it.
Sucre King Cake
A much-loved tradition of the Carnival season is the baking of King Cakes. These cakes are seriously good...and I have eaten WAY too many pieces (only 5 days left, I can make it). Gooey, spicy cinnamon is twisted into a circle of soft, airy, sweet pastry bread and topped with sugar or icing...the result is a mouth-watering dessert reminicent of a cinnamon roll but 10 times better. Some bakeries add fillings; my favorite is cream cheese. I believe king cake is best served warm.
King cake tasting party
There is an ongoing debate among New Orleanians about which bakery serves up the best king cake. Last weekend, I had the opporuntity to attend a King Cake tasting hosted by Leslie of NOLA Eats. We tasted 8 different king cakes from a wide range of bakeries. The winner was the king cake made by Sucre. The runner up was a cake made by Cake Cafe. Locals who were born and raised in the New Orleans area will likely attest that local bakeries such as Haydel's, Randazzo's, and Maurice's are the best. To each his own.
In the spirit of the season, I embarked on making my own version of king cake in true Scoop Adventures style. How about a delectable stream of cinnamon swirled between layers of cinnamon cream cheese ice cream? Done! If you love ice cream (and king cake) as much as I do, you will definitely scream about this ice cream. Enjoy!
[Disclosure: As much as I love the way this recipe turned out, it was a little icey (just a bit). Feel free to experiment by adding some cornstarch (see vanilla ice cream recipe) or xanthan gum or guar gum to improve the texture. I will be sure to post any recipe updates once time and money allow for remaking.]
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup (133 g) cane sugar
1/8 cup (30 ml) corn syrup
4-5 Three-inch cinnamon sticks
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Adapted from recipe by Kathy Dance on Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup (110 g) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
2 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Warm 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Once warm (do not boil), cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for one hour.
After steeping is complete, remove cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon. Pour remaining milk into cinnamon milk mixture and begin rewarming. Cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, 4 minutes.
Using a hand or stand mixer, whip cream cheese. Whip in lemon zest. Remove milk from from heat and with the mixer on its lowest setting, gradually add milk to cream cheese. Continue mixing until all of the milk mixture is incoorporated (some small pieces of cream cheese may stay separated, that is okay). Pour the mixture into a gallon bag, seal tightly, and set baggie in the ice water bath, cover with some ice, and let stand until cold, about 20 minutes or longer.
Meanwhile, prepare cinnamon swirl by combining ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until butter melts and all ingredients are combined. Continue stirring until desire thickness is reached (about the consistency of maple syrup).
Once ice cream base is chilled, pour ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream has finished churning, pour a layer of cinnamon swirl into a plastic container and lightly spoon a layer of ice cream on top. Continue to alternate layers of cinnamon swirl and ice cream until the container is full. Do not stir or ice cream will look muddy. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and close with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.