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The soft serve lady

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Its the Oscar season and Meryl Streep gets a nod for Best Actress nomination for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The former British PM was known to be a no nonsense politician, but its a little known fact that she was the inventor of the soft serve ice cream! McDonald ought to be paying royalties to her for every ice cream cone that they peddle!

Before entering politics, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put her Oxford chemistry degree to good use with a research job at food manufacturer J. Lyons and Co.

Tasked with whipping more air into ice cream, she produced a type of ‘soft-scoop’ cream which could be pumped through a machine. It heralded Mr Whippy vans and the ‘99’ cone.

Vietnamese Baileys Coffee Ice Cream ( A step by step guide)

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment

A food blogger friend of mine once told me that to capture the eyeballs of readers, we should try to incorporate some behind the scenes look at the process of crafting an ice cream flavor. The last I’ve checked, she has over 520,448 visitors on her site. Who am I to argue with a popular food blogger? So over the past weekend, using the Vietnamese Baileys Coffee as a flavor, Chief Craftsman and I created a simple step by step guide on how to make an ice cream from scratch.

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Wacky flavours – Prosciutto Ice Cream

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

If you are looking for some out of the world flavor, look no further than Humphry Slocombe, which is a very unique ice cream parlor in San Francisco.

One of the wackiest flavors which they have made is this. According to food critics who have tried it, the combination of pork and milk fats is just amazing. Yes you read it correctly, pork fats and ice cream. This just shows that the kind of ice cream flavours is limited only by your imagination.

 

If there is anyone out there that have tried the before, share with us your experience.

Gelato

January 2, 2012 1 comment

I realize most people do not really know the difference between gelato and ice cream. In fact most of us are not even sure if there is a difference or not. To begin, perhaps we should first understand the word “Gelato”. Gelato is actually an Italian word which means “frozen”. In Italy, they just called it Gelato as how the Chinese uses “冰淇淋”.

What are the difference in structure between Ice cream and Gelato?

Gelato to me is simply Italian ice cream. It uses the same basic ingredients, namely milk, cream, sugar, eggs as ice cream. Italians make ice cream with less butterfat (6-8%), less air to create a dense ice cream. Nowadays super premium ice cream like haagan daz also contains very little air.

For those who tried making ice cream at home, you would know for a fact if you use 8% butterfat to make ice cream, the ice cream is likely going to turn out icy. What keeps the Gelato texture creamy, despite lower butterfat, is an important ingredient called stabilizer. [Refer to my previous post on stabilizer] Scientifically as the butterfat level decreases, the amount of stabilizer concentration would have to be increased or you would get an icy texture.

In addition there is a reliance to use technological sugar like dextrose, maltodextrin as it improves the texture of Gelato better than normal sugar (sucrose). These are also commonly used in the making frozen yogurt.

To be fair, a lot of ice cream retailers also use the above to make ice cream though I personally do not think it is necessary.

Is Gelato healthier?

From the perspective of butterfat, it appears that Gelato is healthier. But then again butterfat is not actually evil. Butterfat is simply fats from milk.

Moreover the differential in butterfat between ice cream and gelato is not really that enormous. Using a general classification, gelato has 8% butterfat while ice cream has 14% butterfat. Every scoop [about 100ml] will probably save you 6g of butterfat which is really not alot.

If you consume butter, butter is 80% butterfat. This mean 10g of butter [which is just a tiny slab] actually contain 8g of butterfat.

From an overall perspective, I don’t think Gelato is healthier. I think both are as sinful. However I don’t personally like those stabilizer or technological sugar as I think it just deviates from what we call home-made and natural product.

Does Gelato taste better?

This is a tough question. I have not really taste exceptionally good gelato so far in Singapore. I was told if you want to find the best gelato, you have to find it in Italy. As for ice cream, overall I prefer Tom Palette and Udders.

Conclusion

There is really not much of a difference between Gelato and Ice cream in my view. Having a lower butterfat does not really make it a different product from ice cream. Even within different brands of ice cream, there are differing percentages of butterfat used.

Interestingly, gelato cannot be classified as “ice cream” under the US Law because US defined “ice cream” as a product with at least 10% butterfat. Perhaps this is a deliberate attempt to differentiate Ice cream from Gelato?

In Singapore, fortunately or unfortunately you can call it whatever you want. There are some retailers who called their product Gelato Ice cream.

I guess we will just call our product ice cream or merely ice cream, since none of us can speak Italian.

Categories: About Ice cream Tags: ,

Stabilizer in ice cream – Do we need it?

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

More than a year ago, there was a Straits Times article that mentioned about this particular coffee joint selling incredible ice cream that does not melt. Straits Times even went a step further to sought comments from ice cream makers and food science academics as to what are the factors that can cause ice cream not to melt.

Purpose of stabilizer 

Stabilizer as the name suggest stabilizes the whole ice cream structures and helps to keep the ice cream in shape for a longer period of time. At the same time, it also helps to prevent formulation of large water crystal in ice cream. The “economical brand” ice creams are the one that requires stabilizer the most because it generally contain inadequate butterfat and a lot of air.

It is common knowledge that fat and water to do mix and usually separate from each other, forming two layers. If you try to stir them together, you can disperse them temporary, but once you leave it untouched, separation occurs.

Stabilizer does not help bind the 2 immiscible products. To perform this task, you will need something called emulsifier. (I will discuss about emulsifier later) Stabilizer basically works as a thickening agent and therefore makes it harder for the dispersed water particle in ice cream to congregate.  In addition ice cream contains air and air would definitely cause ice cream to be even less stable.

Ice cream is a complex structure containing air, water and oil.  It is thermodynamically unstable and its desired form can only be achieve at low stable temperature coupled with precise balance of each of the required ingredient.

Types of stabilizer 

Common stabilizers used in making ice cream today are xanthan gum, guar gum and locust bean gum. It is common for retailers to use more than one type of stabilizer. It is important to note that these stabilizers are very strong thickener. They have this remarkable ability to produce a large increase in the viscosity of a liquid by adding a very small quantity, usually 0.5% – 1% of the whole mixture.

Stabilizers are actually also found in most cream based product, like whipping cream, cream cheese. If you take a closer look at some of the food label of some of the cream based product, you may see “E numbers”. These number codes are for food additives that have been assessed for use within the European Union. E400-E499 codes for stabilizers.

Health benefit of stabilizer

Seriously, I can’t think of any health benefit. But I reckon stabilizer in low amount should have no adverse impact on our body either.

Can we do without stabilizer in commercial ice cream? 

The answer to this is YES. Our ice cream contains no added stabilizer. Haagen Daz has done it too, so has Tom palette.

The key to not using stabilizer is to really understand the complex multiphase structure of ice cream. To compensate the absence of stabilizer, we add egg yolk to our ice cream, (Egg yolk is a natural emulsifier) whip less air into the ice cream (you get a denser ice cream) and use adequate butterfat. For those who may not know the use of egg yolk to make ice cream is known as  “French custard style ice cream”.

If you are making ice cream at home, there is absolutely no need to use any stabilizer. All you need to do is add a little bit more cream to increase the butterfat. Alternatively, you can add a little bit of skim milk powder to give your ice cream more “body”.

Anyway ice cream is supposed to melt. The key is to enjoy it before it melts!

Valrhona chocolate ice cream made with only pure valrhona cocoa and no stabilizer. it has a lasting intense chocolate flavour

Enjoy before it melts!

Categories: About Ice cream

What is butterfat?

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Butterfat is without reservation one of the main ingredient in ice cream. Butterfat is what makes ice cream smooth and creamy. In addition, the presence butterfat also enables air to be incorporated into the ice cream. For the benefit of those who may not be aware, air is an important component in ice cream although I will dither to describe it as an “ingredient”.

Inadequate butterfat may cause iciness in ice cream. [Icy defect in ice cream can also be cause by other factors]  Under the US law, a product can only be labeled as “ice cream” if it contains a minimum 10% butterfat. Therefore gelato is technically not “ice cream” in US because gelato generally contains about 8% butterfat.

What is butterfat and where to find butterfat? Butterfat is simply fats in milk. Butterfat can found in most milk related product. I have compiled a list of milk related products that contain butterfat.

This is ghee. Some “prataman” uses this to fry their prata.

S/n

Name 

Butterfat Content

1

Skim Milk

Almost 0%

2

Low Fat Milk

1% – 2%

3

Whole Milk (Normal Milk)

3%  – 3.5%

4

Half and Half

`~ 18%

5

Whipping cream

33% – 38%

6

Butter

80%

7

Ghee

99%

To make ice cream, you need to use either half and half or whipping cream. Whole milk does not contribute enough butterfat. Whipping cream can be found in most supermarkets; [NTUC; Cold Storage; Sheng Siong] or bakery supplier like Phoon Huat [Do not confuse this with whipped cream]. 1000ml of whipping cream cost about $7 – $10 depending on the brand. Half and half is a little more uncommon in Singapore. So far, i have only seen it at Cold Storage.

The amount of butterfat in ice cream can varies from 10% – 16%. Super premium ice cream like Häagen-Dazs contains at least 16% butterfat. Even though butterfat makes ice cream smooth and creamy, an overdose of butterfat is really not something desirable unless you are looking for a greasy “lard ice cream”.

Ice cream has always been perceived as a sinful indulgence for the reason that it is supposedly fattening. Is this really true? The weight of one scoop of ice cream is approximately 60g – 100g. Assuming butterfat content to be 14%, one scoop of Ice cream contains about 8.4g – 14g of butterfat. Comparatively one fast-food chicken burger contains roughly 16g of fats.

Does this mean ice cream is healthy? Well, it does seems like ice cream is a tiny bit less sinful. In any case it is not my aim here to promote our ice cream as a healthy product. Healthy or not,  I will leave it to all to decide. This is mainly part of our effort to share with people more about ice cream.

Categories: About Ice cream

Virgin post

October 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Introduction

I have been asked to do a short write-up about the ice cream we made. I must confess I am absolutely an awful writer. (By the way this is my virgin blog post)

Making ice cream is a combination of Science and Art. Once you master the science (I will not elaborate too much on this because it’s really not too sexy, we will take care this part) of making ice cream, that’s where the arty-farty, and fun part comes in. You can incorporate whatever you like!

There are a few types of ice creams; French style, Philadelphia-style, Italian Gelato and so on, which I will touch on in another post.

It’s homemade!

Our ice cream is fairly simple. There is just 1 word to describe it ….“Homemade” ice cream! Doesn’t that sound very familiar?

Many ice cream cafes have been using the term “homemade” quite commonly. Not many owners have attempted to explain how their ice cream is “homemade” though.

“Homemade” to us simply means

(1) Making ice cream with ingredients you will normally find at home.

(2) Putting in effort to craft the ice cream as though you are crafting it for your loved one.

We make ice cream mainly using milk, cream and sugar. We use no emulsifiers or stabilizers to make our ice cream with exception of egg yolks. Egg yolk contains a number of emulsifier for example Lecithin. ( Sounds sophisticated doesn’t it? This is the science part). We do not rely on commercial ice cream pre-mixes.

It’s Real!

We have a belief. Ice cream must be crafted using real ingredients. We want people to taste real ice cream and we believe the best tasting strawberry ice cream is one which is made using real fresh strawberries. The same theory applies to all our other flavors.

Why people do not fancy using real ingredient sometime…..

(1) They think it’s troublesome to process real fruits. They use ready made fruits puree.

(2) They think its too expensive, there are cheaper alternatives like extract, commercial flavoring.

(3) They think fruits have too high water content and they have no idea how to incorporate it into ice cream.

(4) They think fruits will affect the consistency of their products because fresh fruits quality varies.

I don't want you in my ice cream!

Why we insist on using real ingredient…..

(1) Ice cream tastes fabulous when using real ingredient. You can taste the texture of the fruits bits.

(2) Commercial fruit flavoring, extract and essences are nonsense. To me these are illusionary product, they make people feel that they are eating that product when they aren’t.

(3) We understand the science of making ice cream, we can handle the high water content of fruits and incorporate it in our ice cream.

(4) It makes the taste of the ice cream slightly different every batch because fresh fruits are different. (To me this is the beauty of having real fresh fruits. It is like drinking fresh fruit juice vs F&N orange)

Thats all for today. I will write about the different style of ice cream in my next post.