indian carrot halva ice cream

Indian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown Table

I guess, I should have called this week as "ice cream week" on the blog! First the beet one and now this bright orange carrot ice cream. As of now, my freezer looks like a haven of several brightly colored containers, one would think I'm stocking up for an emergency. But with the warmer temperatures sinking in, I think this stockpile will be treasured well. 

If you've eaten at an Indian restaurant you might have seen "gajjar ka halwa" (Hindi) or carrot halva on the menu. Traditionally, the halva is prepared by cooking shredded carrots in evaporated milk, ghee and sugar and then flavoring it with saffron and cardamom. After cooking, fried raisins and nuts are added as a garnish. (I've shared a lighter version of this dessert here, previously). Now here's the frozen version of this popular dessert that's just as flavorful and tasty!

When I set out to make the ice cream version of this halva, I had one big obstacle to overcome, carrots are acidic by their very inherent nature and milk curdles in acid, this posed a problem. To avoid this, I first infused the milk and cream with saffron and cardamom and then prepared the base. Once everything was chilled, I folded in the carrot purée and then poured the entire liquid into my ice cream maker. The cornstarch helps to hold the liquid together while adding the acidic carrots to the dairy at a low temperature prevented any potential curdling. 

Happy eating, folks!

Indian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown Table
Indian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown Table
Indian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown TableIndian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown Table
Indian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this carrot ice cream that you might find useful,

  • Use the brightest and fresh carrots you can find for a robust flavor and vibrant color. Oven roast your carrots. Peel and wrap the carrots in aluminum foil and keep them in an oven at 400F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are soft and tender. Transfer the carrots to a food processor and pulse until you get a smooth purée. 
  • I remove the green cardamom pods once the milk is infused and done cooking. Some of the seeds did fall out from the pods but I like that. If you don't then strain the ice cream base but remember that you might lose a few saffron strands. 
  • Saffron can be expensive and you can go anywhere from a few strands to 1/4th of a teaspoon in this recipe. I leave this up to you. The carrots will impart their color but saffron also gives a unique flavor when added to dishes.

My ice cream base recipe is loosely based on the basic technique used in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Indian Carrot Halva Ice Cream | A Brown Table

indian carrot halva ice cream 

yields: approximately 1 generous quart

ingredients 

2 cups milk, full fat

1 cup heavy cream

4 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked open

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 1/4 cups oven-roasted carrot purée, keep chilled (see tips above on how to do this)

1/4 cup pistachios, unsalted, toasted and coarsely chopped (candied pistachios would also be good here)

1. Place the milk, heavy cream, cardamom pods and saffron in a thick bottomed saucepan and bring the contents to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from burning. In the mean time, stir the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl to form a slurry. After the milk has boiled for 1 minute, remove the pot from the stove and quickly whisk in the cornstarch. Return to stove and continue to boil and whisk for 2 minutes, the milk will begin to thicken and take on the consistency of a thick custard. Remove from stove and pour about 1/2 cup of this ice cream base into a large bowl containing the cream cheese. Whisk to combine until smooth, then add the rest of the ice cream base and combined until smooth. Allow the base to cool completely to room temperature.

2. Once the ice cream based has cooled to room temperature, remove and discard the green cardamom pods. If some of the cardamom seeds are left behind in the base, it is fine. You can also strain the entire ice cream base through a strainer if desired. 

3. Transfer the contents into a 1 gallon ziplock bag and seal airtight. Place the bag in an ice cold water bath and cool to around 40F or until ice cold. 

4. Fold the carrot purée into the chilled ice cream base and stir until combined.

5. Pour the ice cream base into the prefrozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn as per the manufacturer's instructions. (I normally churn for 30 minutes until the ice cream resembles a soft-serve consistency). Transfer the ice cream base into a freezer-safe container, sprinkle and fold in the pistachios and layer the surface of the ice cream with parchment paper. Press gently to remove any air bubbles and seal the container with the lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours until the ice cream is firm before serving. 

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table

For someone that professes to love ice cream that much, I almost shuddered when I realized I haven't made a batch in a long, long, long time. Like any devoted home ice cream maker enthusiast, I always keep the canister frozen and at one point, even pondered at getting a second one as a "backup", so I know my love is pure. It was time to rectify this immediately! So to break this cycle, I'm sharing this sweet floral accented pink hued ice cream and even if you have second thoughts about beets in a dessert, I urge you to keep an open mind, this one might just surprise you (in a pleasant way hopefully)!

This was a hard one to name, too many ingredients that stood out and deserved a mention, so I apologize in advance if it sounds way too long. I started off by oven roasting my red beets before I puréed and stirred them into goat milk. The roasting helps to enhance the natural sweetness of the beets by cooking the sugars inside and give them a light caramel flavor. The ice cream base is sweetened with a little honey and brown sugar and then flavored with a light dash of rose water. The natural tanginess of the goat cheese helps to balance the flavors.  

I did notice one really interesting feature about the red pigment known as Betalain in the beets, it started off as pink but turned red after the ice cream base was removed from the hot stove and then went back to pink as it cooled down. I know the pigment color is pH sensitive (acidic/alkaline environments) but this temperature effect was new to me. 

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table
red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Tablered beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table
red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Tablered beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this ice cream,

  • Roast your red beets by wrapping them in aluminum foil and placing them for about 45-60 minutes in an oven at 400F. The beets will cook in their own steam and should be very soft when done. Peel and purée the beets using a food processor. 
  • Some people may find rose water to be a little intense in flavor, so I recommend adding the smaller amount listed below. If you like it by all means bump it up but not too much or it will mask the taste of the beets. 

My ice cream base recipe is loosely based on the basic technique used in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream

yields: approximately 1 generous quart 

ingredients 

1 1/2 cups red beets, roasted, peeled and pureed

2 cups goat milk, full fat

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons honey (I used the clover variety)

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) brown sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons goat cheese, softened to room temperature

1-2 tablespoons rose water (use 1 tablespoon for a milder flavor and 2 for a stronger one)

1. In a large bowl, add and whisk together the puréed red bets, goat milk and heavy cream. Stir in the honey and brown sugar. Transfer the contents to a medium thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high flame with occasional stirring. Bring the contents of the pan to a rolling boil for one minute. 

2. While the the saucepan is heating, quickly mix the cornstarch and the water in a small bowl to form a slurry. Pour the slurry into the boiling contents of the saucepan and whisk vigorously to combine. Boil the contents of the pan for 2 additional minutes until the entire ice cream base acquires a thick custard like consistency. Remove from stove and stir about half cup of the hot ice cream base into a large bowl containing the goat cheese, whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the ice cream base and whisk to combine evenly.

3. Pass the liquid through a sieve to filter out any beet flesh particles. Collect the ice cream base in a container, cover the surface of the liquid with cling film and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Once the ice cream mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the rose water. Transfer the contents into a 1 gallon ziplock bag and seal airtight. Place the bag in  an ice cold water bath and cool to around 40F or until ice cold.

5. Once the ice cream base has cooled, pour it into the prefrozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn as per the manufacturer's instructions. (I normally churn for 30 minutes until the ice cream resembles a soft-serve consistency). Transfer the ice cream base into a freezer-safe container and layer the surface with parchment paper. Press gently to remove any air bubbles and seal the container with the lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours until the ice cream is firm before serving. 

chai and rose fresh berry cake

Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table

Earlier this week, I met up with the amazing Cheryl from 5 Second Rule. Cheryl is one of the nicest people I've spoken with, she is humble and kind even though she is an award winning blogger and has several cookbooks. We talked for quite a while about blogging, food and life in general. Cheryl also has a new book on one of my favorite ingredients, yogurt. Yogurt culture comes out this April and I can't wait to check it out and see all the fun ways I can eat my favorite dairy.

I have a few small pots on our balcony and got all sorts of dwarf trees when we moved in. You can imagine my excitement when I found blooms in my blood orange plant, I wasn't expecting any in the first year! The fig tree has awakened but I haven't noticed any future ovules that will become figs yet. Fingers crossed!

Over at Instagram, I hinted earlier that I would revisit this cardamom lime spring berry cake I made last year. Berries are probably one type of fruit that I eat all the time so I feel obligated that I owe lots of "dessertly" tributes to them. This version is completely different, the cake is flavored with Indian chai (Chai is the hindi word for tea) and edible rose petals and then sprayed generously with rose water. In Indian food you will find rose water and rose petals being used to infuse their delicate sweet flavor in several desserts and drinks, it's one of the culinary traditions that's come via the influence of the Mughal empire in India. This cake takes all of those flavors into account and I tried to bring it all together to make one spring treat. The frosting is made of light whipped cream and cream cheese with a hint of rose water. Then there's a little layer of berry jam and fresh berries in there for that burst of sweetness. Now, my frosting skills are not the best but I have improved significantly since I started working at the bakery. For one, I've learned to hold a piping bag correctly, frost cakes quickly, and decorate them as needed. No more wrist pain with piping bags! 

Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown TableChai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown TableChai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this cake that you might find useful,

  • Here's the deal with dried edible rose petals, they smell wonderful and will impart their delicate floral flavor to anything they are added. But trying to eat them directly is no fun. I do garnish the top of the cake a little with the dried petals but don't get too carried away. You'll end up chewing way too much for comfort. 
  • I use whole wheat white pastry flour as it has less gluten than the regular red grain variety resulting in a tender cake crumb.
  • I can never remember to leave my butter out to warm up when I need to in a recipe. But a little trick I've learned at work, wrap the butter up in cling film and pound it till it is just soft  and pliable. Use the softened butter as needed. Coincidentally, this is also something I saw the students do when they were preparing their laminated doughs in the pastry class I audited a few days ago.
  • To slice the cake, I pass 4 bamboo skewers through the center of the cake at mid height. I then slice the cake in half using the skewers as a guide. After the cake is halved, I remove the skewers out. You could certainly, cut the cake in half using any method that works best for you.
  • You can use any type of jam in the cake. I recommend trying jams that are a little more tart such as raspberry or black currant, I personally find strawberry jams to be a bit too sweet and overpowering at times. 
  • You can use a springform or regular circular 9 inch pan that is around 3 inches in height. 
  • The strawberries help to hold the cake layers together and prevent the frosting from squirting out. But I still recommend keeping it chilled even when you cut through the cake. Use a clean and warm serrated knife when you slice it to get clean and even slices. 
  • I use a spray bottle to evenly infuse the cake with rose water. Get a cheap one from the dollar store. Alternatively, use a brush to flavor the cake. I didn't add any sugar to the rose water because there really is no need with the jam, the frosting and the cake's sweet profile. 
  • I cut back on the amount of cream cheese that would be used in this frosting. Ideally you would use 8 ounces cream cheese to 2 cups heavy whipping cream but I find that to be very salty in taste. If that doesn't bother you adjust the frosting accordingly. 
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table

chai and rose fresh berry cake 

 

 

yields: one 9 inch cake 

ingredients 

1/2 cup (100mL) water, boiling

1 tablespoon darjeeling/assam black tea leaves

1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine grain kosher sea salt

2 tablespoons dried edible rose petals, ground to a fine powder

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and chopped + extra for greasing the pan

5 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tablespoons + 50mL rose water 

1 quart heavy whipping cream

8 ounces cream cheese, warmed to room temperature and whipped

3/4 cup (5 ounces) sugar

1 cup raspberry or strawberry or mixed berry jam (I used raspberry)

2 cups strawberries, fresh and ripe, halved

2 cups blueberries, fresh and ripe

1 cup raspberries, fresh and ripe

 a few extra berries for garnishing the top of the cake 

a few dried edible rose petals for garnishing the top of the cake

1. Sprinkle the tea leaves over the boiling hot water and leave aside to sit for 5 minutes. Strain and discard the leaves, you should have between 75-50mL of tea infused water left behind. Cool to room temperature completely before use. 

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and rose petal powder four times and keep aside. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F.

3. Line the base of a circular 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and grease lightly with a little butter. Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the paddle blade to the mixer and cream the sugar and butter on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time and whisk until combined. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix on low speed for about 1 minute until just combined, then add the tea prepared in step 1 along with the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 35-40 minutes until the center is springy, yet firm to touch or a skewer comes out clean when passed through the center of the cake. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then release from the sides using a sharp knife and cool on a wire rack. Once the cake is cooled, wrap it in cling film and freeze it for at least 2 hours before frosting.

3. Place the heavy whipping cream, cream cheese, sugar and 3 tablespoons of rose water in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated and chilled until ready to use. 

4. Place the cake on a cake stand/turntable and slice it in half (see kitchen tips above). Spray the inner sides of both cakes with the remaining 50mL rose water using a spray bottle. Layer the bottom half of the cake with the jam using a large offset spatula. Then take 1 cup of the whipped cream frosting and layer it over the jam. Then layer the cake with place the strawberries top side facing upwards in three concentric circles. Fill the gaps between the circles with the raspberries and blueberries. Top the berries off with about 1/2 cup of whipped cream and then place the top layer of the cake over it. Frost the outside of the cake using the spatula to get a smooth and even finish. Decorate with extra berries and a few rose petals. Refrigerate the cake for an hour or two before cutting to serve. This cake will be good for up to 2-3 days.