Caramel Ginger Bourbon Gelato

Yes, we are forking the blog a bit here, covering some new territory with a food piece. After trying a variety of brandy, bourbon, port, Amarone, and other spirits in vanilla and chocolate ice creams, I decided to try to concoct my own. I love caramel more than just about any sweet, and ginger goes well with it. And the caramel notes of bourbon go well with both. This is a classic egg custard recipe that requires an ice cream machine or manual churning. I use a Lello that Mary gave me for my birthday a while back. Built like a tank and gorgeous in that retro Italian way. 

The caramel recipe is adapted from this recipe at Crosby’s. I’ve made caramel dry and wet style, and according to Lebovitz, as well as from many blended cream, butter, and sugar recipes. For pure caramel flavor, eaten straight like candy, it’s tough to beat the dry type. And it’s a bit easier than wet. But the cream & butter recipes seem to work better in ice cream. I used this caramel recipe for this ice cream, because its molasses base interacts well with the ginger flavors.
Sorry, no nutritional info. It’s ice cream; if you’ve gotta know, maybe it’s not the right dessert.
For the caramel:
Caramel Ingredients:
1. 1/2 cup (118 mL) salted butter
2. 1/2 cup (118 mL) lightly packed muscovado sugar
3. 3 Tbsp. quality molasses [preferably Crosby’s]
4. 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp (280 mL) 35% heavy whipping cream
5. 1 tsp. pure vanilla or vanilla paste
6. 1 tsp. quality ginger paste
Caramel Instructions:
1. Over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar and molasses in a heavy bottom medium size pot. (The pot needs to be tall enough to allow for foaming.)
2. When the mixture is fully blended, slowly add the cream.
3. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
4. While boiling, stir in the ginger paste.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. It will be easier to use later if you transfer it to a glass measuring cup.

For the gelato, there are a number of ways to get the taste and scent of ginger into an ice cream. One of these days, I am going to blanche the actual ginger root to see how that works. But for now, I use candied ginger, paste, and powder, all from Fiji and organic. Fiji organic seems to taste consistently the best.
Gelato Ingredients:
1. 6 egg yolks
2. 3/4 cup (177 mL) packed muscovado sugar
3. 2 cups (472 mL) heavy cream
4. 1 cup (236 mL) whole milk
5. 2 grade A vanilla beans
6. ⅔ cup (158 mL) candied ginger, divided
7. 1-1/2 tsp powdered ginger, divided
8. 1 tsp ginger spread [or paste] 
9. ¼ cup (59 mL) ginger-infused bourbon

Gelato Instructions:
1. Whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, and 1 tsp organic ginger powder together in a large bowl, large enough to receive and whisk half of the milk and cream you are about to heat. Set aside.
2. Combine the cream and milk and ½ tsp ginger powder in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.
3. Slit the vanilla pods in half length-wise with a sharp knife. Scrape out the paste with the back of your knife or shallow, narrow spoon.
4. Add the vanilla pods and paste, and ⅓ cup candied ginger to the milk pot.
5. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture just starts to bubble around the edges.
6. Remove the pot from the heat. Cover and let the mixture infuse for 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove the vanilla pods and candied ginger chunks, and discard. Warm the mixture again on the stove until steaming.
8. Slowly drizzle half the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg/muscovado mixture, whisking constantly. Slowly return the warm blend back into the remaining hot cream in the pot, whisking gently and constantly.
9. Return the combined mixture to the pot. Add 1 tsp ginger paste and ⅓ cup candied ginger to the mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it registers 170F (77C) on a candy thermometer and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
10. Remove the pot from the heat. Strain into a large bowl, preferably a tall stainless bowl that can easily stand higher than the melting water level of your ice bath..
11. Whisk in the bourbon.
12. Cool in an ice bath, whisking frequently to lower the mixture’s temperature. You can speed it up by putting the ice bath pot into a refrigerator. Ideally, the mixture should be at or below 40F (4C) before you begin churning. Ideally. Life is often not ideal, and in my experience, patience can be overrated.
13. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the machine's instructions. 
14. Drizzle caramel into churning cream right before shutting it off. You should be able to see faint swirls.
15. Transfer to a container, smoothing each amount into layers and pouring caramel over it between each layer and over the last layer. Use a skewer or chopstick to stir the cream in figure 8s, swirling the caramel throughout.
16. Freeze anywhere from 3 hours to overnight. The amount of alcohol and sugar in this recipe will keep this gelato relatively soft.
P.S. If you’d like something different, but equally decadent and wonderful, skip all the ginger, and substitute a half cup of Vin Santo for the bourbon.
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