Savory Ice Cream: Your Favorite New Appetizer

My last piece for Newsweek is up.  It’s on savory ice cream.  Which is to say, ice cream you eat at the beginning of the meal, not at the end.

Savory ice cream is my favorite “wow” trick for dinner parties, because it looks so fancy but takes minimal effort. Salmon tartare is delicious, but salmon tartare served atop a scoop of avocado-wasabi ice cream suggests that Thomas Keller or Heston Blumenthal might have dropped by your house to help whip up something special. Yet avocado wasabi ice cream is one of the simplest things you’ll ever make: you puree avocado, cream, wasabi, lime, and a bit of sugar in your blender, then toss the result into your ice cream freezer. (You do need an ice cream machine, but these days very serviceable models are available for as little as $55 on Amazon.) And its creamy spiciness is the perfect accompaniment to the tart, fresh flavors of the salmon mixture.

I know: you’re skeptical.  That’s why I gathered a group of the toughest critics I could find: my family.  My husband doesn’t even like fruit-based ice cream, and my mother and her sister are strongly skeptical of food experiments.  I even included a six year old girl.  All of them voted yes, with the crowd favorite being a spiced-bacon-maple-and-bourbon combo.

Seriously, if you have an ice cream freezer, you owe it to yourself to try savory ice cream for your next dinner party.  It’s a fun experiment, it wows if it works properly–and if it doesn’t, you’ve wasted $5 worth of ingredients and about half an hour.  Plus, on hot summer days, there’s nothing more refreshing at the start of a meal than a small scoop of savory, delicious ice cream to cool off your palate.

I’ll be posting recipes tomorrow, for those of you who are interested in giving it a try, but don’t know quite where to start.  Avocado-wasabi, Feta-herb, Spicy Maple Bacon, and Carrot-Ginger, coming soon to an ice cream freezer near you.

14 thoughts on “Savory Ice Cream: Your Favorite New Appetizer

  1. If you’re looking for votes on where to start, I’d like to see Spicy Maple Bacon. But the all look good, except for Carrot-Ginger. Just don’t like that combo much.

    • Hate to come across as being all pushy and everything but I would really love to have those recipes. They do sound amazing especially the avocado-wasabi and the spicy maple bacon

  2. Curious: Sugar is one of the mechanisms that keeps ice cream “creamy” instead of icy or grainy. Does reducing the sugar content increase the crystal size during freezing? The pics accompanying the Newsweek piece looked like the texture was a touch grainy. Can this be offset by increasing fat content, or does adding salt resolve the situation? Freezing faster would eliminate the problem, but most home cooks don’t have access to liquid nitrogen.
    Speaking of LN2, a local restaurant occasionally does their own version of savory (or nearly savory) Dippin’ Dots by dripping vegetable purees into liquid nitrogen.

  3. You don’t get rid of the sugar; most recipes have more than you need to cut up the ice crystals, so you can reduce it without much problem. The sweetness is less detectable because it’s so cold.

    Those pictures were not, alas, of the ice cream I actually made, so I don’t know why it was so icy!

  4. “Avocado-wasabi”

    Is that wasabi wasabi, or horseradish-with-green-food-coloring wasabi?

  5. I need to figure out where this goes in my 4 Food Groups:

    1. Meats, 2. Vegetables, 3. Nuts, and 4. Pastries.

  6. If you aren’t yet making ice cream with fresh basil (steeped like tea in hot cream for an hour, then thoroughly chilling the cream before combining with milk and sugar), you are missing a real treat. Of course, green tea ice cream is a wonder itself. I’ve been informing skeptics of the wonder of avocado ice cream for about 15 years now; it is a shame that so few believe me until I make it for them.

  7. “Salmon tartare is delicious, but salmon tartare served atop a scoop of avocado-wasabi ice cream suggests that Thomas Keller or Heston Blumenthal might have dropped by your house to help whip up something special. ”

    I would have went with Helen Keller or Sidney “Vicious Sid” Blumenthal.

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