Yes, I know. It sounds like a funny combination, doesn’t it? The thing is, that lately – well maybe not that lately, more like for quite a while now – I’ve been cooking with beer trying to keep up with the ever so popular and trendy Nordic cuisine trend. I’ve baked, stewed and tried to sneak in a little beer where ever I saw fit. A month or so, I ventured into beer ice-cream, or to be more precise: Vanilla ice-cream with a little beer added at the end for flavor and that touch of Nordic’ness, that seems so right, these days. And was it nice? Indeed!
In stead of using a porter, as the recipe called for (I turned to everpresent Claus Meyer, for Danish speakers, check out his homepage for the original recipe), I used a stronger, darker and umpf’er imperial stout from the magnificent Norwegian brewery, Nøgne Ø. The result was great, but I thought it could be better. I wanted to stress the caramel tones and hints of dark, unrefined sugar. Making a beer-pear syrup did the trick. Pears are pretty much over and out this time a year, but if you’re lucky enough, like me, to get your hand on a couple Doyenne de Comice. Don’t you hesitate – slice ’em up and bath them in beer!
By the way, this is not the place to cut down on sugar, cream or egg yolks. They all need to be there to balance out the bitterness of the beer.
Pears in dark beer
Peel and pit a couple of pears, then slice then into 1-2 cm slices. Meanwhile heat half a bottle of dark beer (I used Nøgne Ø’s Imperial Stout) with 150 ml moscovado sugar and 50 ml of ordinary light cane sugar. (Using two kinds of sugar provides you the zing of ordinary sugar and the deep, dark aromas of moscovado; please note, that different beers might need different amounts of sugar.) When the mixture is boiling, add the pears and simmer gently until cooked. They don’t take long, and you don’t want mush but texture. Remove the pears and reduce the liquid into a syrup.
Ice-cream with beer
8 egg yolks
500ml full fat milk
1 vanilla pod
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. In a small saucepan combine milk, cream and the pod and seeds of the vanilla and bring to the boil. Discard the pod and slowly and while whisking, pour the mixture over the eggs. Return to the saucepan and gently (VERY gently!) simmer until it thickens. Using a thermometer might do your nerves a world of good: when it reads 84 C pour the mixture into another bowl to stop it cooking. Let the cream cool in the fridge and add as much of the syrup as you like. Start out with 50ml or so.
Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker and enjoy on a windy, cold night. Luckily, they are almost outnumbered now, but better to be on the safe side and keep a little ice-cream in the fridge. Besides, it isn’t bad in sunshine either.