Sunday, April 5, 2009

Theories: The Second Grade

For my friend Cris' birthday, I made a lovely dessert that comes from the sap of a particular tree.  Was it good?  No, it was, good, eh?  That's right, I channeled my inner Canadian and made Maple Ice Cream!  It was a really positive experience but I have to say, I had a helluva time getting the right maple syrup.  I think the problem has to do with the American psyche.  

Everything in the U.S. has to be THE BEST.  If it's not, then it's obviously THE WORST.  There are only two choices.  Well, that's my crackpot theory and I'm sticking to it.  So what on earth does this have to do with ice cream, you say? 

Real maple syrup comes in grades - grade A is lighter and smooth while and grade B is darker and more complex.  For cooking, you want the grade B because it packs a more of a punch when mixed with other ingredients.  However, it proved to be difficult to find.  I am sure because "grade B" sounds like "second best" in the minds of our fellow citizens.  Kind of reminds me when figure skater Michelle Kwan burst into hot tears of frustration when she was awarded the silver medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics.  And we wonder why people don't like us abroad!

This same phenomenon happens with extra virgin olive oil.  Is it better than regular olive oil?  No.  Each has different uses.  Plain old olive oil is ideal for cooking while extra virgin is for salads and drizzling on cooked veggies right before serving.  However, since extra virgin sounds better, well, it's pretty much all you can find in a market.  And you see people frying things in it.  Oh, the humanity!

So, after checking several local markets including, I finally got poor, misunderstood grade B in Nova Scotia, Canada where they call it "maple syrup #2."  Number 2.  Grade B.  Always a bridesmaid just because you're so complex.  I feel your pain, sister.

Anyway, it was delicious!

Maple Ice Cream

3/4 c grade B maple syrup
1 c whole milk
2 c heavy cream (or half and half for ice milk)
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan over moderately high heat, boil the maple syrup until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.  Lower the heat and stir in milk, cream, and salt.  Cook, but do not boil.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until lightened, about two minutes.  Slowly add a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly.  Add yolks to the rest of the milk, again, whisking constantly.

Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Cook, but do not boil.

Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and chill at least four hours.  

Freeze in an ice cream maker per manufacturer's instructions.

The mounties rescue me from the grade b dilemma.  Thanks, good neighbors!

Step one: boil the grade b syrup until your camera goes all steamy and romantic.

As they say in Nova Scotia, "That's right some good, dear."

1 comment:

  1. Hiee Raina, this is really interesting and yummie! Thank you for sharing this with us! Oh it is soo nice to meet you on Holly's blog course! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!