I have been reading the New York Times Wednesday Food section for at least 25 years and I generally have success with their recipes. About 10 days ago a recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Sundaes caught my eye. I am not a coffee drinker, so I wasn’t planning on making the coffee syrup or the coffee granita the recipe called for, but what intrigued me was the ice cream base. The ingredients were half and half, creme fraiche, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. I hadn’t thought to pair creme fraiche with condensed milk so I decided to try it. After I mixed all the ingredients in the blender I tasted it. It seemed bland. I expected more caramel notes. I added a vanilla bean, then some heavy cream. It still didn’t do much for me. Then I added lime and pear just as an experiment and it was a surprisingly successful combination. I am putting this out there to demonstrate that sometimes, when we are working with recipes, what begins as a rather bland start can end up with some very tasty results.
I love creme fraiche and my favorite brand is Bellweather Farms from California. I have occasionally made my own creme fraiche but I find it convenient to keep a tub of commercial creme fraiche as a refrigerator staple.
Also, I always have citrus oils in the house. I keep them refrigerated. They can help give a good flavor boost to desserts and vinaigrettes.
Creme Fraiche Pear Lime Ice Cream
2 c. half and half
1 (7.5 oz.) container creme fraiche
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. sugar
3 whole canned pears, drained
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp. grated lime zest
1/4-1/2 tsp. lime oil
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 quart.