Living in the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco, horchata ice cream or ricanelas ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery is a no brainer.
But you see, my 31st flavor, the final ice cream flavor to be created in one year is dedicated to my number one fan. The one fan that loved every ice cream flavor (except anything with ginger) regardless of whether it was too icy, too sweet, or too bland. To Chris who has supported the project in the 31 flavor incarnation and the ice cream travel guide from day one and was the inspiration for it all.
Nearly seven years ago in 2006, we met through mutual friends at a quick stop at the taco trucks on International Blvd in Oakland. As I sat down on the sun worn plastic chairs with tacos and a drink, Chris said to me, “I always have horchata with my tacos.”
I said, “Me too!”
Horchata has always been a Mexican tradition, combining cinnamon, milk, and rice. Adding a cinnamon sugar cookie like a snickerdoodle makes perfect sense.
At Bi-Rite Creamery years later, he always got the ricanelas ice cream. The one flavor with the unpronounceable name that scoopers wrote out the pronunciation for in English. Ree-can-ell-as or something similar. Like horchata, ricanelas is inspired by a cinnamon cookie from Mexico. At Bi-Rite, they use snickerdoodle cookies. When the flavor was not present, Chris pouted and resorted to whatever I chose.
On horchata, Chris describes his love in practical terms, “Like I said, it’s both sweet and spicy. It has a cinnamon kick. Turns out that it has very high sugar content. Even the grittiness from the rice adds to the flavor. It makes it even better.”
So I dedicate this flavor to you, Chris. Not because you would eat ice cream in bed all day. Whether it’s grocery store brand, the rocket shaped pops…or pint sized small batches. You’re the only one like me that can eat more than 5 scoops of ice cream per day. Thank you for being with me every step of the way.
Adapted from Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream Sugar Cones Cookbook and Bojon Gourmet
At least 20 blanched almonds
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1-2 snickerdoodle cookies (optional; if you want to make your own, use this recipe)
To blanch the almonds (if you don’t buy them pre-blanched), place unpeeled almonds in a heatsafe bowl. Pour boiling water to barely cover the almonds. Let almonds sit for at most a minute. Drain and immediately rinse in cold water. Rinse one more time. Pat dry. The skins should slip right off.
Combine the blanched almonds, rice, and cinnamon stick in a dry medium saucepan. Over medium heat, toast until fragrant, about a few minutes. Immediately pour in the half and half into the saucepan. Remove from heat when steaming. Steep for at least 30 minutes to infuse the half and half with the toasted almonds, rice, and cinnamon stick.
Strain the horchata milk into a separate bowl, removing the almonds, rice, and cinnamon stick. In a clean medium saucepan, combine the horchata milk, sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt. Heat until steaming.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed horchata mixture into the bowl. Whisk the mixture after every cup until at least 1/4 cream mixture remains in the saucepan. 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 snickernoodle pieces.
Serve as is or on top of a fresh snickerdoodle cookie.
Written in May 2013