Cinnamon Beet Ice Cream

I promised a unique ice cream, didn't I? A few posts ago, I mentioned that I picked up some things that looked good at the farmer's market without having ice cream in mind, then thought "what if...", and the first item was sweet corn. The second thing I bought was a bunch of beets to maybe make a beet salad. I had never worked with fresh beets before, and now I understand why people complain so much about everything turning red in their kitchen after peeling and cutting fresh beets. Imagine using an immersion blender to puree your beets--I had plenty of red splatter marks everywhere, including all over the very laptop I'm typing on now.

Beet ice cream doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking about what to use beets for, but I also didn't think it was such a stretch. Beets go well with "sweet", for instance in beet salads often there will be a sweet component like honey or fruit. And indeed I found recipes online for beet ice cream, most of them riffs off of a recipe by Thomas Keller. I followed the recipe for the most part, but decided in the end that it was a bit too "pure beet" for my tastes and added some cinnamon and a little vanilla.

Cinnamon Beet Ice Cream

About 1 pound beets
1 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c cream
3 egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Peel and dice beets. Puree with blender (or juicer if you have one). Strain with a sieve, pressing down on pulp, and set juice aside.

  2. Remove pulp from sieve into a saucepan with milk and cream. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, then remove from heat and let infuse for up to an hour.

  3. Strain the mixture and place the liquid back into the saucepan. Discard beet pulp. Turn on medium-low heat once more, and add 3 Tbsp sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, beat 3 yolks and remaining 3 Tbsp sugar in a separate bowl until it turns a bit frothy and pale yellow in color. Pour about 1 c of the simmering mixture slowly into the yolks while whisking to prevent scrambling. Keep whisking for a few minutes, then transfer all back to saucepan.
  5. Keep stirring the mixture until it thickens to a custard, and coats the back of a spoon. Then refrigerate overnight.
  6. Take the beet juice from earlier and reduce to about 1/8 c over low heat. Also refrigerate overnight.
  7. Combine the custard and beet juice, then freeze in your ice cream maker.

The ice cream certainly tasted very strange, a much stranger sensation than the sweet corn ice cream. The beet flavor is overwhelming, even with the cinnamon added in, and and first I thought it was too weird for me to enjoy. But as I had a few more bites, it started to grow on me... earthy and sweet, with a bit of spice. My sister also enjoyed it, and said it reminded her of sweet potatoes. I still would say that beet ice cream isn't something I would make all the time, but with the right food pairing, it could be delicious. Any ideas?

Next up: Something to eat your sweet corn ice cream with!
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  1. You are quite the experimental ice-cream maker Ms. Smiths fan. I must say, I regret I cannot taste all these curious concoctions you are cooking up.
    Waiting anxiously to see what you will make to go with the corn ice cream.

  2. This is culinary fusion radicalism. I love it. I would suggest some ginger. It maybe the bridge that links the two food groups together.