The ice cream project: mango cream cheese ice cream
If it is like my family's, your first reaction to "cream cheese ice cream" is skeptical, even bemused. But think a moment: cream cheese is the main ingredient in cheesecake and in the good kind of rugelach, and it's delicious on a bagel topped with jam or jelly. Cream cheese likes to hang out with sweet stuff no less than ricotta or cottage cheese. Cream cheese ice cream is a good idea.
My Gourmet cookbook, which I both like and loathe, reports that a French chef in Washington, D.C. "who was fascinated by American cream cheese" invented cream cheese ice cream. Reading that makes me think of the Human League song that goes "Keep feeling fascination/Passion burning love so strong." Is this what the French chef felt for that staple of the American refrigerator, Philadelphia? Gadzooks!
(Why do I like and loathe the Gourmet book? The like part is easy. That's because it's a rich source of old Gourmet recipes that obviates the need for having old issues of Gourmet cluttering up the place. I loathe it because it substitutes cutesy, trendy, overly fussy and complicated, and useless recipes (jellied borscht, p. 85, anyone?) for standards that it should include. It has more than a dozen recipes for salmon but none for beef chili. Like the magazine, it explains too little about the hows and whys of cooking. And its tone is often arrogant, as in this claim attributed to Ruth Reichl, the book's editor, on the back of the dust jacket: "Our goal was to give you a book with every recipe you would ever want." At least the title of Bittman's How to Cook Everything is presented tongue-in-cheek. Reichl apparently is serious and I don't know who "you" is but this book falls way short of including every recipe I want.)
So the cool part about making this kind of ice cream is that cream cheese is already thick and creamy. If you puree it with more dairy, a sweetener, and flavorful stuff you can skip the custard cooking step and proceed straight to cooling, freezing, hardening, and eating.
I started with two ripe mangos.
Now the good people at Oxo make many fine products, but I cannot abide their new mango splitter, which has put in more media appearances of late than TomKat.
The world has no need of this product. If you have a sharp knife and half a brain, it's easy to get the flesh out of a ripe mango. Lop off the stem end off the bottom so that the fruit sits flat on your board, slice each side off the pit, then slice the two "fingers" left behind off either end. Run your sharp knife around the perimeter of each big oval slice of mango and use your fingers to push the fruit off the skin. And filet the "fingers" as you would a piece of fish, with the blade parallel to the board. A sharp knife is almost always better than a gadget. If your knife isn't sharp, sharpen it. I sharpen mine on a stone I bought for $3.98 in Chicago's Chinatown. Sharpening a knife takes about thirty seconds and changes your life.
So when I was through with these two mangos they looked like this. Honest, I have no training in cutting stuff up and this took me less than a minute.
I tossed this in the blender and pureed it. Like my sherbet, the mixture for this cream cheese ice cream gets whizzed in the blender and that basically is the whole preparation.
I added 2% milk, sugar, and cream cheese softened by being left on the counter for a few hours.
I was in a hurry to make this one in time for the same day's dessert, so I cooled the mixture the fastest way I have at my disposal, by immersing it in an ice bath.
When it was cold I churned it. I know this process is getting a bit repetitive to read about, but these paddle shots just kill me and I can't not show them to you.
Now here is my mango cream cheese ice cream all ready to eat.
This one is a real revelation. It is a bit tart from the cream cheese, very rich despite containing no cream, and super-mango-y. It tasted a bit like a mango lassi and a bit like mango cheesecake. It would be good with chunks of graham cracker--better yet, graham cracker piecrust--mixed in, and it would also be good paired with a mango sorbet, one little scoop of each with a few cubes of fresh mango as a garnish. It was also good all by itself. Really, really good.
My other ice creams: