Celery ice cream?
It got me thinking. Celery? Green. Usually eaten raw. Almost tasteless, but with a slight herbaceous flavor. Chopped up into small bits for salads to add crunch. Usually great sliced and combined with Asian stir-fry noodles. The latter is my most prominent memory of celery.
Granted, making celery ice cream is a response to a reddit on making celery ice cream.
As I thought about it, celery ice cream begs to be paired with something. Then it came to me. Obviously. Never a big fan of peanut butter, I was surprised by peanut butter crack introduced to me by classmates during graduate school. Specifically from Peanut Butter and Company. Jars usually found in groceries like Whole Foods…but its sandwich shop is located in New York City.
I visited the sandwich shop in New York City for the first time with Chris in summer 2008 after taking a walk past his childhood home in Tribeca. The shop sold all the peanut butter as well as various peanut butter snacks including peanut butter sandwiches (such as PB-BLT) and…the famous ants on a log.
Growing up, I didn’t eat the same childhood snacks as many kids. PB&J sandwiches were notably absent…and so were these ants on a log aka celery filled with peanut butter with raising dotting the entire stick.
So those raisins, the peanut butter and the celery stalks inspired me. Knowing that I was preparing for the launch party for the kickstarter, I wanted to something something off-the-wall but something that could be close to vanilla for the unadventurous (as ironic it seems).
I looked through the celery ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. My success in making smooth, creamy cornstarch-based ice cream was rather low, so I decided to use egg yolks to retain a custard. I used Jeni’s method for raisins (if I just dropped them in, they would become too cold; the alcohol help keeps it a lower temperature so it’s tasty upon chewing) and developed a peanut butter swirl that froze well in the ice cream. (Couldn’t find any PB & Co peanut butter but used high-end peanut butter where the oil floats to the top…)
My friends at the party engulfed it. Because the egg yolks took away from the celery flavor (to my disappointment), the ice cream itself was very basic ice cream. Next time, I might steep the celery overnight as once the base is a custard. After an hour, the celery taste was there with a nice bitter finish. However, upon straining and chilling for an hour, that bitter celery taste disappeared. Some experimentation is required to figure out the emphasize the celery—whether it’s decreasing the yolks (or using cornstarch?) or allowing steeping overnight. Or perhaps to add sugared celery? Or crush the leaves a bit more?
Like some ice cream shops, I like using the full name. But for some, this is Ants on a Log ice cream. Want some?
2 tablespoons of good-quality rum (you always want to use liquor that you want to drink…)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup raisins
In a small saucepan, combine the rum, sugar, and water. Stir to dissolve the sugar while bringing to a boil. Remove from heat. In a separate heatproof bowl, pour the syrup over the raisins. I used a standard measuring cup. Let cool to room temperature. Chill in refrigerator until ready for use.
For the peanut butter sauce
1/2 cup high-quality creamy (non-chunky) peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
In a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter, heavy cream, light corn syrup and brown sugar. Place over low heat. Stir until the sugar is well dissolved. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature. Chill in refrigerator until ready for use.
For ice cream base
4 cups of half and half
1 cup sugar
Large bunch of celery with leaves, roughly chopped
pinch of celery salt
3 egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, heat half and half and sugar together until simmering and steaming. Remove from heat.
Add roughly chopped celery. Steep for at least an hour. Strain out celery. Add celery salt. Mix.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed celery cream mixture into the bowl. Whisk the mixture after every cup until at least 1/4 cream mixture remains in the pot. Return the contents into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Five minutes until the end of churning (or when it looks like it’s almost solid), add rum-plumped raisins.
Scoop the celery ice cream into an empty container. After every scoop, swirl in a generous spoonful of peanut butter sauce. Let freeze and serve as is.
Written in February 2012