Monday, February 2, 2009

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream with Sesame Brittle and Crystallized Ginger

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream with Sesame Brittle and Crystallized Ginger

I'm a big fan of Häagen-Dazs' Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle ice cream so when I saw this recipe on Tastespotting, I jumped at the chance to try to make it for myself. After reading the recipe, however, I realized it was missing a vital ingredient that the original had: ginger. Since I wasn't sure how to infuse ginger into the sesame brittle, I chopped some of my homemade crystallized ginger and added it to the ice cream.

Chopped crystallized ginger

First, a short lesson on candy making, as you will be making your own sesame brittle. This recipe calls for the use of a candy thermometer to know when to stop cooking the sugar mixture. If you have a food thermometer, but aren't sure if it's a candy thermometer, check and see what the highest temperature it will read is. If it goes up to about 200 °F (and says do not insert in water), it is a meat thermometer. Do not use this thermometer for this recipe! If it goes up to about 450
°F, it is a candy thermometer, and you are all set.

If you don't happen to have a candy thermometer, you can still make this recipe, but you'll have to be extra-vigilant not to let the sugar syrup get too dark in color. What will happen during the cooking process is first all the water will boil off. The temperature will stay at about 230
°F for quite a while until this happens and the color will remain clear. Once most of the water has evaporated, the bubbles will get thicker and the temperature will gradually climb. At 320 °F the syrup will just start to turn golden. A few minutes later, it should turn a deep, golden brown, and at this point the syrup will have reached 340 °F. This is where you want to turn off the heat and add the butter.

Similar to when adding the cream to molten sugar for the salted butter caramel ice cream, the butter will melt rather violently in the super hot sugar. But that's just the beginning. When you add the baking soda to the syrup, it will start bubbling and foaming up, kind of like when you add baking soda and vinegar together to making your paper-mâché volcano "erupt". Except this is a true eruption of some very hot molten sugar, so make sure you are ready to pour it onto the oiled pan once you've added the baking soda.

Finally, after pouring the syrup out, you may want to lick the spoon or use your finger to scoop up any leftover syrup from the pot. Please don't. Or at least if you really feel the need to play with molten sugar, use a toothpick or something to spin your own sesame brittle lollipop or something. But just don't be stupid, okay?

Sesame brittle

Sesame Brittle
(adapted from here)

makes 15 - 20 servings

Vegetable oil
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large, un-oiled frying pan, toast sesame seeds until golden brown. Set aside.

Toasting the sesame

Generously oil a baking sheet with raised edges with vegetable oil.

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cream of tartar, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, boil the mixture until it reaches 340-350 °F, and the color is a deep golden brown.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, then mix in the toasted sesame seeds and baking soda. Be careful during these two steps as the butter will react violently with the very hot molten sugar and the baking soda will cause the volume of the sugar to expand rapidly.

Pour the mixture onto the oiled pan and spread it out with the back of a wooden spoon. Let the brittle harden, uncovered, in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.

Using a metal spoon, crack the brittle to remove from the pan and store in an airtight container.

Breaking the brittle

You'll only need 1 cup of this sesame brittle, which is about 1/5 of the recipe, but you can eat the brittle on its own, and after you take a bite (after it's cooled, people!) I'm sure you'll be glad you made extra. And now onto the ice cream itself. I didn't have any coconut rum, so I substituted it with half vanilla rum and half coconut extract.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream with Sesame Brittle and Crystallized Ginger (adapted from here)
makes 1 quart

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla rum
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut extract
1 cup sesame brittle, broken into small shards or pieces and place in the freezer
3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Toast the coconut in a skillet over medium-high heat, shaking and stirring until a golden brown. This will probably take less than a minute so be very careful not to burn the coconut. Store in the freezer.

Toasted coconut

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the cream, coconut milk, and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add the rum and coconut extract and chill the mixture in the refrigerator overnight.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Once churned, stir in the sesame brittle, toasted coconut, and crystallized ginger and freeze until firm.

Churning the ice cream

I was a little suspicious at the small amount of sugar that was used in this recipe. Only 1/2 cup for a whole quart of ice cream? But the end product tasted fine. The addition of the brittle and crystallized ginger add enough sugar, and if the ice cream itself were more sweet, the effect would be entirely too cloying. As it is, the brittle gives the ice cream a nice crunch while the ginger adds the slightest amount of heat at the end that balances out the creaminess of the coconut ice cream. Now if only I could find a recipe for Häagen-Dazs' Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream....

Update:  I found one!  Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream


  1. yay for Taiwanese Americans!! I love that you have such fabulous looking Asian inspired baked goods!! It's very inspirational and SO fun to look at. :) You have a great blog!

  2. OMG!! I just went in to panic mode when I discovered Haagen Dazs has apparently discontinued their Reserve ice cream including our beloved mouthful of Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle. I quickly did my search knowing that someone out there must have a cure for me. Thank You! I am definately becoming your newest follower after seeing this and your bacon caramels and bacon caramel corn recipes. Genius!

  3. 3 Researches SHOW Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

    This means that you actually get rid of fat by eating coconut fat (in addition to coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 researches from large medical magazines are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world around!