I invented Salted Steens Ice Cream one Christmas when I was running low on white sugar and high on cane syrup and it turned out to be the best possible way to use up Steens syrup. It’s nothing more than simple cane syrup ice cream studded with gingersnaps. You can make it at any time of year but it’s especially nice around the holidays since it tastes like gingerbread. The smoothness comes from the combination of the syrup and the cornstarch.
Custard Base Best
One of the reasons homemade ice cream tastes better than store-bought is the custard base. This adds a step to the process, not to mention the extra time and the expense of the egg yolks. Most commercial ice cream makers can’t charge enough to make a profit on custard-based versions so they don’t make them. This is the reason amateur ice cream makers usually churn out product that’s superior to the pros. Because they can afford to.
What stops many of them though is the near-universal fear of curdling. No one wants all their effort and expense to end up as a pot full of runny sugary scrambled eggs. But fear not! This problem can be largely avoided by the use of a thick bottomed pan and/or double boiler, moderate heat, and constant stirring. And the stirring time is mercifully short since the eggs do cook quickly. And last but not least there is the strainer. No matter how careful, no matter how low the heat, you will end up with a few curdled squiggles. That’s why you’ll pour it through a strainer. That way no one will ever know.
Making the Custard and freezing the ice cream
So for this recipe, you’ll want to start heating the cream, then in another bowl whisk vigorously the yolks, cornstarch, and syrup until completely smooth. When the cream warms to the point where it’s hot(ish) but still not too hot to stick your finger in, go ahead and ladle some of the cream into the egg yolk mixture. This is called tempering. I think of it as squiggle reduction because it will warm the yolks without cooking them and causing the scrambled egg effect. After you’ve added two or three more ladles of cream and mixed it well, pour the cream and yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
Stir until a thermometer reads 180 or until you see the first bubble pop on the surface. One fail-safe way of testing doneness is the old “coats a spoon” routine. When the custard starts to visibly thicken pull out your spoon. Does a thick layer adhere to the spoon? Yes? Now take your finger and run it down the back of the spoon right through the middle. If it creates a channel that stays you’re done. Think Moses. Parting of the waters. Like that.
At this point you strain it into a bowl, add the cold half cup of milk and stir a bit to cool. When it’s no longer hot add the vanilla, cover with plastic and put in the fridge for several hours. When it’s good and cold freeze it according to your ice cream freezer’s directions. Right before the end add the broken sifted cookie chunks and you’re done.
Because of the slightly larger amount of sugar (in the form of syrup) in this, the finished product will be somewhat softer than other ice creams so make sure your freezer is at its lowest setting to harden it up properly.
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup Steens cane syrup
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup broken up ginger snap cookies or Speculaas (the Belgian version)
- Combine yolks, cornstarch & syrup and beat well.
- Bring cream to a simmer, then add a little to the yolks. Add the remainder of the yolks and stir over a low heat till the custard coats a spoon (or 180 on the thermometer.)
- Add cold milk and vanilla extract.
- Strain into a bowl and let cool off a bit.
- Cover with plastic and chill thoroughly in the fridge.
- Break the cookies up into medium sized pieces. Do a quick sift to get rid of the tiniest crumbs. The final product will look better.
- Pour the custard mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.
- When the ice cream is almost frozen, add the cookies.
- Serve with a small dusting of sea salt on top.