Monday, April 12, 2010

Italian Fontina Cheese Ice Cream

So here's the story with this ice cream.....

Italian Fontina cheese - when eaten straight off the knife - tastes foul. And when I say foul, I mean it has a strong flavor that's sharp and sorta moldy. So, when I made the custard portion of the ice cream, which tasted wonderful, and THEN took my first bite of the Fontina - Yick! Yuck! - it took some serious trust on my part to add this unpleasant element to my already delicious custard base.

Luckily, my friends at the cheese counter at Whole Foods had forewarned me that the cheese had a bold and "distinct" flavor. I took comfort in the fact that they were not surprised that I was using it in ice cream....but rather intrigued, which led me to believe that somehow the unsavory flavor of this cheese was going to be miraculously transformed into delicious flavor at some point during the preparation process, which means there was going to be a little bit of kitchen magic happening.....

I whisked in the cheese until it was smooth and then took my first bite.......not too bad. After it had chilled in the fridge overnight I tasted it again....not bad at all......kinda yummy. And then I ran it through the Cuisanart and turned it into the delectable Italian Fontina Cheese Ice Cream you see above. I don't when the "Abracadabra" moment took place exactly, but I do know the Magic happened!


Of course, it was a BIG hit at the Cheese Tasting Party as everyone raved about the marvelous texture and exquisite flavor. I, myself remained dumbfounded that the stinky quality of the cheese - that I could actually taste in the ice cream - is what gave this culinary delight it's perfect flavor......Magic!

It was only after we had thoroughly enjoyed our ice cream, that I let Carrie serve up the Fontina cheese to be taste-tested. And just as I suspected, everyone hated it! They couldn't bring themselves to believe that the unpleasantness of the Fontina could be hidden in the ice cream, let alone be responsible for the splendid flavor, but eventually they came to believe.............. in Kitchen Magic!

Fontina Cheese Ice Cream

3 Cups Whole Milk
3 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
4 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened
4 Ounces Fontina Val D'Aosta cheese....
rind discarded and cheese coarsely grated
One Teaspoon Vanilla

Special equipment:
Instant-read Thermometer;
Ice Cream Maker

Bring milk just to a boil in a 1-1/2 to 2 quart heavy saucepan. Whisk together eggs, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then add hot milk in a slow stream, whisking. Pour custard back into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it registers 170 to 175°F on thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl, then add cheeses and vanilla, whisking until cheeses are completely melted and incorporated. Cover surface of custard with a round of wax paper and chill until very cold, about 4 hours or overnight.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.

Let soften at room temperature 20 minutes before serving, if necessary.

**The original recipe gave me the option of using either Danish Fontina or Spanish Mahon. I chose Fontina because we had already showcased the Mahon at our first cheese tasting party, and I wanted to explore new cheeses. Our Whole Foods did not carry Danish Fontina, but it did carry Italian, which is what I used.

As I was leaving Whole Foods after picking out my cheese, this shiny bag caught my eye and it seemed like the perfect topping for the ice cream. Turns out, I was right. It was a huge hit as an ice cream topper. Of course, it's fabulous for simple snacking too.


Carrie said...

Well said Sheri! And a wonderful treat for the party. Thanks again for your faith in food and willingness to provide us with such an interesting dish!

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