Foodiva's Kitchen: Lemongrass Chilli Lime Ice Cream with Black Sesame Langues de Chat

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lemongrass Chilli Lime Ice Cream with Black Sesame Langues de Chat

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines

We've been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can't live that way, no
~ Lyrics from Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield

My friend Nancy of Spicie Foodie blog is currently running a fun recipe contest with a giveaway which runs until July 27, 2011. The winner she eventually chooses will win a copy of her brimming-with-spices cookbook, An Epiphany of the Senses and the great news is, it's open to everyone. Yep, all of us on this planet are eligible to enter. Well, the catch is that you'd have to write up a post featuring a recipe that makes Nancy hungry and also uses several of your favorite spices. If it's your original creation, all the better!



Much as I would like to enter the giveaway, I already have two versions (a paperback and PDF) of her cookbook, so it's only fair for me to step aside and let someone else have a chance of winning it. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist doing a post of a 'Spicie' recipe that incorporates several of my often-utilised spices. Unlike me though, Nancy is not much of a dessert girl but I'm going to try to bend her tastebuds with this particular ice cream. 

My ice cream machine and I have finally warmed up to each other and I've been churning ice cream on a daily basis, with exciting flavor combinations that make my in-house peeps look at me as if I'd suddenly lost my mind! Well, I happen to think that the pairings work really well together but I may just have very forgiving tastebuds. Although I hope that's so not the case. 


Right now, I seem to be suffering from what looks like a phase of ice cream-induced insomnia. For the past two weeks, I've eaten, breathed and had delicious dreams of ice cream. And my ice cream recipe list is growing by the day, so far there are 15 types. I don't know how I'm going to blog about them all before the novelty starts to wears off or the ice cream season is finally over, whichever comes first.

Nancy's loving husband jokingly thinks that Mexicans (which Nancy is) put chilli, lime and salt on basically everything they eat. So to humor her, I decided to include these three ingredients in my frozen treat and added several of my own. In case you're starting to wonder, the spices I used in my ice cream are lemongrass, safflower and chilli, all bathed in a custard base of coconut milk. 


My choice of lemongrass was not totally coincidental. It's a very versatile seasoning and due to its citrusy and sweet, grassy undertones, is used in many Asian (especially Thai) dishes. It is used less often in sweets or desserts, but its earthy, lemony flavor makes it a suitable spice for syrups, cakes, jellies and in this case, ice cream. So what do you do if you can't find fresh lemongrass? You can substitute 1 tablespoon of dried lemongrass for each fresh stalk. If dried isn't available, try several strips of lemon peel per stalk. I warn you, though, that the effect won't be quite the same, since lemongrass has a more subtle, delicate flavor than lemons or limes.


In many savory Thai dishes where lemongrass is used, you would often find it accompanied by chillies and lime. They taste so perfect together, the heat of the chillies criss-crossing the tartness of the citrus on the tongue. If there ever is a perfect threesome, these three ingredients would be it. And the coconut milk (as the custard base) would seal them in delicious matrimony for as long as the dish may last.

I wanted to highlight the supporting roles of the chilli and lime a bit more, so to start with, I made a sweet-sour lime syrup that could be poured over the ice cream just before serving. It gets the juices in the mouth going, all ready to absorb in the creaminess of the gelato. As for the chillies....I roasted one and kept the other one raw, and I tell you, they gave two different taste dimensions to the ice cream that could easily convince you they are not the same ingredient. Of course, I removed all the spicy seeds (because I'm chicken like that), but if you want to add that extra zing, keep some or all the seeds intact. Yes, go for it!

Hoping to add in an extra flavor, I also threw in some safflower petals, otherwise know as Turkish saffron, saffron thistle, or (this is my favorite) bastard saffron. However, like safflower oil, it has a very mild, almost undetectable accent, so all it really did here was give a pale yellowish tint to the custard. In other words, don't bother running out to buy some, you can leave it out of the recipe if you wish. If  I had used saffron it would've made a world of difference, of course, but I just don't have any in stock.


To accompany the ice cream, I made flat, crunchy fingerlike cookies called Cat's Tongue, or en français, Langues de Chat. Normally they are plain, but mine were flavored with black sesame, yet another of my favorite spicesLangues de chats have rounded edges and skinny middles, resembling a cat's tongue (not that I've had the pleasure of inspecting our cat to prove this theory correct). The shape is made by squeezing the dough out of a pastry tube with a blob of dough at one end, followed by a streak and then another blob. The best thing is, these delicious and crisp cookies take only 5-6 six minutes to bake. 


You see now how spices can 'spice' up your life? Hope you've enjoyed today's ice cream adventure with me. Remember, you don't have to always stay within the lines...  


In the news today:
People of Norway, it's summertime and you shouldn't have to grieve like this. <3
Amy Winefield, R.I.P. 


Lemongrass Chilli Lime Ice Cream with Black Sesame Langues de Chats
Makes about 2 cups

Lemongrass Chilli Lime Custard
2 lemongrass stalks
1/2 teaspoon dried safflower petals
1 ½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 large chillies
1 lime, lime zest only

1. Cut the lemongrass stalks in half lengthwise (use only the white part in the middle, 4-6cm from the base) and bruise them with a rolling pin. Place in a saucepan, add the safflower, coconut milk and salt and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about half an hour. Strain to remove the lemongrass and safflower.
2. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar and cornflour until pale. Gradually add the coconut milk, whisking constantly.
3. Return mixture to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge or 45 minutes in the freezer.
4. Cut the chillies lengthwise into half and remove the seeds. Take one chilli and chop into very small cubes, set aside. Roast the other chilli under a broiler oven for 10 minutes until parts of the outer skin is charred. Let cool completely, and cut into very small cubes/slices. Mix with the other raw chilli cubes and set aside.
4. Remove custard from fridge, stir the lime zest into the custard. Churn in an ice cream machine until thick (about 30 minutes). Stir in the chopped chillies, spoon into a container and freeze until firm. Let soften for 5-10 minutes on the counter before serving. Add a teaspoonful of lime syrup over the top and serve with black sesame langues de chat (below).

Lime Syrup
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
1 lime, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lime juice

1. Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Boil for about 5 minutes without stirring.
2. Reduce the heat, add the lime slices and juice and simmer for another 5 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Black Sesame Langues de Chat
Makes: about 40-50 minis, 25-30 standard-sized

60g (1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, softened
60g (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) caster sugar
2 egg whites
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons black sesame, finely ground
60g (1/2 cup) plain flour
extra sesame seeds, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white with a pinch of salt just until it starts foaming. Slowly add the egg white into the butter mixture, stirring it in as you add.
3. Add the black sesame and flour into the mixture, and gently mix with a spoon.
4. Transfer the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe the mixture onto a baking sheet, leaving enough room between the strips for them to spread.
5. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until the edges are just slightly brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

52 comments:

yummychunklet said...

What a great combo of flavors for ice cream!

Anncoo said...

WOW! I love this spicy ice cream and definitely worth trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing :)

Adriana said...

What a great great flavor combination. Oh my! I love coconut sorbet (classic Puerto Rico street food) and can only imagine how much better it can be with the addition of the spices.

Hanna said...

Beautiful! Your Langues de Chat look amazing!

Kelly @ Eat Yourself Skinny said...

Wow great job! Your pictures are fantastic, looks delicious! :)

Lilly said...

You are so creative!! And your pictures are stunning as usual!

Amy said...

This whole combination of flavors sounds amazing! Love the use of chilis in ice cream! The accompanying cookies sound delicious as well, you are so creative :)!

Foodness Gracious said...

Great creation and very nice pics! Do you use any kind of special lighting?
Thanks for sharing...

Foodiva said...

@yummy chunklet, this recipe was a first try, and I'm glad it worked out the way I imagined it! Sometimes, things just end up as disasters in my kitchen...but happily, not this ;-).

Sandra said...

This is just full of flavor..Love the recipe, photos and new blog design! Have a wonderful week ahead Maya!!!

Foodiva said...

Ann, thanks. Yes, do give it a go and let me know if you like it... or not!

Foodiva said...

Adriana, I've never had coconut sorbet, so that's now on my list of to-try :-).

Foodiva said...

Hanna, Kelly and Lilly, many thanks for dropping by with your lovely comments!

Foodiva said...

Amy, people often think of chilli as a savory ingredient, much like garlic. But I've seen garlic used with vanilla and chocolate in desserts too, so why not chilli?

Foodiva said...

Foodness Gracious, hiya and thanks. Yes, I use very specialised lighting for my photos. It's called sunlight...LOL! Seriously, I just stand by the window and simply snap away ;-). No biggie.

Foodiva said...

Sandra, glad you came by. Hope you're feeling better now, and yes, I made a few changes while you were away! You have a great week too, sweetie!

Cher said...

Whoa - this is too cool... Very impressed.

Lizzy said...

You are so darn creative! Beautiful and inventive ice cream!!!

PS...I used my cookie presses today...they worked like a charm! xo

Foodiva said...

Cher, thanks so much. It's cool and pretty cooling too, I must say! ;-)

Foodiva said...

Lizzy, you did? I can't wait to see a post of those flower cookies. Bet they tasted marvellous too!

Kate@Diethood said...

WOW WOW WOW! Now that's an ice cream flavor that I would never come up with... you're awesome! :)

Foodiva said...

Kate, maybe after reading this post, you will! Go on, impress yourself ;-).

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Awesome ice cream flavor Maya. You know how original I can be too so this is very much to my liking. I totally understand your blossoming relationship with your ice cream machine. My love affair is going on 3 years.

Only one thing missing in your recipe: your version of tequila!

Jennifurla said...

First off, I love that song..still. and love the flavors here, must be exciting to taste.

Ann said...

Wow - that is SO creative! I tend to stick with traditional flavors when making ice-cream, but would order this at a restaurant. It's amazingly beautiful!

Lisa~~ said...

Spicy ice cream...fantastic!

Lisa~~
Cook Lisa Cook

Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

Wowzers is all I can say! I love the flavor/spice combo you chose. And again, do your kiddos know how lucky their are to have a mama that's making homemade ice cream on a daily basis? Another reason I need to visit and remind them. Have a great week. :)

Adora's Box said...

I just love the flavours of lime and lemongrass whether on sweet or savoury recipes. Never had chilli on ice cream but i don't think it's a bad idea at all. I never knew that that saffron was called bastard saffron. We use that a lot in Filipino cooking where it goes by the name of kasubha. Extraordinarily pretty langues de chat.

PFx said...

You know you have the food intuition like a Michelin star chef.
Lemongrass, coconut milk and chili and sesame to tie everything off. I am truly inspired! Can be both adjusted to savoury and sweet!!!
I bought a bunch of those saffron back in Bali... truly disappointed, I thought I was hitting a jackpot, scoring a kilo for nothing! Hahaha.

And how about that Music (again!), you have awesome taste!

Foodiva said...

Evelyne @CEE, haha...my house is an alcohol-free zone so I won't be making the tequila version anytime soon!

Foodiva said...

Jennifer, glad someone still enjoys that song! Well, I like it for it's lyrics, mostly.

Ann and Lisa, thanks!

Foodiva said...

Jenny, well my kids are freaked out by the wilder flavors but they've requested repeats of the Oreo Milk and fruity ice creams. Thank God! LOL.

Foodiva said...

A dora, I've never heard safflower being called kasubha. You must post up a Filipino recipe using this spice so I can try out more recipes with it.

Foodiva said...

Pierre@PFx, thanks for the highest compliments...now can you just get the Michelin people to send me over some stars? :-) Didn't think you were a Natasha Bedingfield kind of dude, but glad you enjoyed the video!

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

What a sexy spicy ice cream flavour, and what a perfect pairing with sesame biscuits! Great stuff.

Spicie Foodie said...

Maya have I ever told you that YOU ROCK!! Well you do :) This is so fantabulous I don't even know where to begin. I love that you used what I told you as the inspiration, will have to tell me hubby about it:) Love your creativity and that fact that you go outside the lines. Thank you so much for participating. Big, big hugs sweetie:)

P.S. The incident in Norway is so tragic as is Amy Winehouse passing.

Spicie Foodie said...

Me again:) I forgot to tell you I love your new logo and blog design. Did you create the banner yourself? Either way it is too cute.

Victoria said...

Ha, now I have "spice up your life" but the spice girls stuck in my head, lol. I am in love with my ice cream maker too, although I hasn't made an appearance this summer yet (can you believe it? what's wrong with me??!). Your flavor is so unique and a great homage to Nancy! I can't wait to see what other fun variations you've come up with!

Shilpa said...

That looks really nice....love, absolutely love the sound of chilli and lemongrass...Oh! will need to make this...

brilliant!!!

Foodiva said...

Nancy, happy to contribute something for your contest (though not participating in the giveaway) and so thrilled that you like the ice cream! Now you can tell hubby that we can indeed put chilli, lime and salt on everything, LOL.

Btw, the banner was a gift from my friend, Nic in Singapore. We used to be cross-border colleagues and he had his design team do it for me. How fabulous is that, hey? Yeah, I'm so lucky!

Foodiva said...

Victoria, I was thinking of Scary Spice when I wrote this post, LOL. My goodness, woman...summer's nearly over. Go and brush the dust off that ice cream maker now!

createwithmom said...

innovative lovely presentation Maya

Foodiva said...

Akheela@createwithmom, thank you so much!

Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen said...

So creative! I think my dad would love this :)

Foodiva said...

Nourhan, I'm glad your dad and I have similar tastes :-). You must make this for him!

Shu Han said...

I've tried some weird icecream flavours, but I must say this is the most unique I've ever come across! Just found your blog and am intrigued by the recipes, especially since they all have a tropical twist (:

Magic of Spice said...

Such a wonderful and creative ice cream...and your langues de chat are a perfect accompaniment :)

Foodiva said...

Alisha@Magic of Spice, thanks for the compliment and for taking the time to drop by. Appreciate it much!

Foodiva said...

Shu Han, welcome to my red kitchen! It's great we're in the same time zone and tropical climate because technically, you can make whatever recipe I post in here! And vice-versa, of course.

Lazaro Cooks said...

Very creative and intricate flavor profile. Bravo! You should be proud of this creation.

Foodiva said...

Thanks, Lazaro. Always lovely to have a pro clown come visit the site! My creation's no match for your consistently elegant plating and complex flavors, so yeah, thanks again :-).

marie, the EpicureanPiranha said...

I'm just amazed by your creativity in the kitchen - such fabulous taste and texture combos, presented so artistically! Bravo! I'm now following your blog, and hope in between your creating and baking, you'll find some time to have a peak at my blog as well (updated rarely this past year, but hopefully more frequently now!) Lovely to meet you too (loved reading your profile!)

~ marie, the EpicureanPiranha

EpicureanPiranha ~ enjoying life in tasty bites

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