Hops & Nuts Ice Cream

hops and nuts ice cream

As many of you know, I love pushing the boundaries of ice cream flavors.  I am not alone.  There are many ice cream makers in the US who are also getting very creative with their flavors.  Recently I heard about Salt & Straw‘s Bone Marrow & Smoked Cherries Ice Cream in Portland, OR.  Although I am adventurous, I am not sure I would have come up with this flavor, but if I lived in Oregon I would be eager to give it a try.

My latest creative endeavor was inspired by another interest of mine – beer.  Spending time with my homebrewing husband and other homebrewers I have learned a lot about hops, the primary flavor component of beer.  There are large variety of hops available to beer makers and these hops possess different flavor profiles.  Some are citrusy, others are tropical, some are piney, and others are musty.  As the craft beer world has shown, there are tremendous number of flavor possibilities.

Given that ice cream is my first love, I decided to get creative and use hops to flavor ice cream.  I used the citrusy and mild variety of hops called Citra hops.  I am very pleased with the resulting ice cream.  When I first tried the ice cream a day or so after it was churned, I thought that the hops flavor was a little too subtle, but as I allowed the ice cream to age in the freezer the hop flavor bloomed and it was fantastic. The pine nuts are a perfect toasty and crunchy compliment to the light citrusy flavor of the ice cream. So good. Try this ice cream with your favorite variety of hops and enjoy!

Hops & Nuts Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

Allow ice cream to bloom in the freezer for at least a week for a more pronounced hop flavor.  If you would like a more pronouced hop flavor up front, add more hops.  Careful not to add to much or your ice cream may be bitter.

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce) Citra hop pellets
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
2/3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Spread pine nuts on a parchment or silicone-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until pine nuts  are toasted and fragrant, stirring every 5 minutes.  Check pine nuts every few minutes to prevent burning. Cool to room temperature and chill until ready to use.

Cut out a 4 to 5 inch square of cheesecloth.  Place hops in the middle of the cheesecloth, bring up corners of cloth and tie with kitchen string to form a bag.  Set aside. In a small bowl, make a slurry by mixing 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch and set aside.

Combine the remaining milk with heavy cream and sugar in a large saucepan.  Bring milk mixture to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture.  Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened (draw a line on a spoon), about 1 minute.  Remove from heat, place hop bag into milk mixture, cover and steep for 30 minutes.

Remove hop bag, pressing it against the back of a spoon to remove as much liquid and flavor as possible.  Discard hop bag. Gradually pour the milk mixture into a medium bowl.  Whisk in salt.  Cover and chill overnight.

Once chilled, pour ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When churning is complete, gently fold in pine nuts.  Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

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