This ice cream is based on a recipe from Miroslav Uskokovic, pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern. The easiest way to describe it is as a caramelly flavored butter pecan ice cream with a wild twiggy tea kick from the bark at the end.
The recipe does not use egg, in order to showcase the flavor of the wild hickory that's infused in the milk. It's great on its own sprinkled with a few hickory nutmeats, as a seasonal complement to pumpkin or pecan pie, or as Miro serves it, with an apple crisp.
Note: Hickory chips and nuts can be foraged in eastern and central North America (see post here), or ordered online.
About the Author: Tama Matsuoka Wong is corporate lawyer turned professional forager who supplies wild plants to chefs in the New York City area and leads events across the country about the deliciousness of wild ingredients.
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- Yield:Makes 2 1/2 pints
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:1 day
- 1/2 pound shagbark hickory bark, broken in to pieces small enough to fit in a large pot (see note above)
- 1 cup smashed hickory nuts or shells (see note above)
- 4 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 4 ounces (1/2 brick) cream cheese, softened
Adjust an oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 325°F. Spread the hickory bark and shells apart on a baking sheet with parchment paper and toast until fragrant, about 8 minutes.
Combine milk and toasted hickory bark and shells in a large pot. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until simmering. Adjust heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, let cool for 1 hour at room temperature, then cover and transfer to refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Strain milk through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and discard solids.
Whisk 2 cups of hickory milk with the cornstarch in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine remaining 2 cups hickory milk, cream, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Whisk milk/cornstarch mixture, then pour into boiling milk. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes,
Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then combine with cream cheese. Transfer to a blender in two batches and blend until thoroughly. Transfer to sealable containers and let cool at room temperature with no lids for 1 hour. Cover and transfer to refrigerator. Refrigerate about 4 hours.
Process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove to freezer-safe container and harden in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.