You'll never guess what flavor ice cream this is, and you'll be even more surprised to know it's one of my favorites!
When I first decided I wanted to undertake this challenge, I wanted to come up with some unusual but not outrageous ice cream flavors. As I started perusing recipes, I realized there are some pretty wacky flavors out there, edamame ice cream? bacon? tomato? parsnip? After hearing all those, you start thinking some ice cream flavors sound fairly normal. Like beet ice cream. And you know what, beet ice cream is really good!
I had an idea to try a beet ice cream, though I had no idea how it would turn out and for all I knew it could have been awful. But when I first made the mixture I couldn't believe how delicious it was: I kept going back to the fridge to taste it, claiming to be “tasting for sweetness,” but really I kept going back because it was so good! Beets have a natural earthy sweetness that’s elevated with the addition of orange juice and zest. Bathed in sweet, creamy custard, it’s truly delicious.
The not-so-usual suspects.
The only problem, now that I'd made a delicious beet ice cream, was getting other people to eat it. When I gave this to some friends for a taste test, I had them try and guess the flavor. Raspberry, currant, they suggested, enjoying the bright pink cream, blood orange? They couldn’t guess the mystery flavor, but declared it delicious, and it was only after they’d downed every last spoonful that I told them it was beet. They had no idea! This has to be one of my favorite ice creams I've made, and the best part is that even after two weeks in the freezer, this ice cream was a perfect scoop-able consistency (a major victory for any home-churner).
Beets have a great affinity with chocolate (really, see below), so I like to pair this with a scoop of dark chocolate sorbet or a drizzle of chocolate sauce. It's a very easy ice cream to make, and I really urge people to try it, whether just for yourself to enjoy, or to surprise some unexpecting guests. And if you, too, find yourself eating scoop after scoop, just tell yourself you're getting your vegetables.
Beet Ice Cream
3 medium-size beets
1 small orange
8 oz (about 1 cup) sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven until very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove, when cool enough to handle, peel beets and chop finely.
2. Place the beets in a blender or food processor. Add the juice of the small orange and about 1 teaspoon of the orange zest. Purée the mixture until you have a rough purée. Add the sour cream, sugar, and half-and-half. Purée the mixture until completely smooth and combined.
3. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve (optional). Refrigerate to chill the mixture completely, several hours or overnight. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Beets have a great affinity with chocolate (if you don’t believe me, check out this). Mix in chocolate chips, drizzle with chocolate sauce, or serve with a scoop of chocolate sorbet.
For adventurous audiences:
In a riff on the classic Eastern European dishes, pair beet ice cream with cucumber sorbet. You could even top it with a little sweetened sour cream and sprinkle of poppy seeds!