Manila Mango and Lemongrass Ice Cream

Winter is kind of over now, but it's not really spring yet. Here in Vancouver, it's still rainy. I still have to wear my winter jacket. I still wear a pair of knee high socks sometimes. It still feels like winter. And winter has just gone on too long. I've had enough of the cold and the wet and the gloomy. I want sun! I want to go out in a light jacket! I want to wear something other than my gumboots!

Unfortunately, the Canadian summer is a few months away, so I'm stuck with the rain. To cope, I google pictures of tropical places and daydream about being there. I look up flights to Hawaii or Bali and imagine that I could actually go on a spur of the moment trip there. Then I remember that I can't afford it. I bring out my summer dresses and think about wearing them for a second, before I remember that it's 7 degrees outside.

This might be another of of my coping mechanisms. Lemongrass and mango are delicious exotic flavours that make you think of white sand beaches, palm trees, and drinks served in coconuts with little paper umbrellas in them. It would be perfect on a hot summers day! A girl can only dream...

The lemongrass pickings were slim in my part of town. I went to three different places and succeeded in finding a very weak looking bundle. It wasn't the best specimen of lemongrass, but it would do. Asian markets are the best bet to finding lemongrass, but if you can't find any, you can leave it out. Alternatively, you could use lemon zest, but it wouldn't be the exact same flavour as lemongrass. I would suggest using about 2 teaspoon of lemon zest in place of the lemongrass.

To prepare the lemongrass, chop the bulb off the bottom. If there are any brown bits at the top of the stalk, chop those off too. Remove the hard outer layers of the stalk, like husking corn. The core of the lemongrass should smell fragrant and be softer than the outside layers you removed. 

Manila mangoes are different from normal mangoes, or Tommy Atkins. Manila mangoes, also known as Ataulfo mangoes, are smaller and have a yellow colour. They are sort of oval in shape, sometimes with a curve at the stem. They are sweeter and less fibrous than regular mangoes. 

Remember, the custard needs to chill before and after you churn it, so plan accordingly.

Make this ice cream, turn up the heat at your place, and imagine yourself somewhere less...wintery. It'll be sure to cure those winter blues.

Manila Mango and Lemongrass Ice Cream
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped lemongrass, about 5 to 6 stalks
3 large organic, free-range egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 manila (Ataulfo) mangoes, peeled and pitted

Combine the milk, heavy cream, and lemongrass in a saucepan. Over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer. Take off the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the lemongrass. Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and bring to a simmer again.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Add a small ladle full of the milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking as you do so. Transfer the warmed egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Over medium heat and stirring constantly, cook the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to boil the mixture. Let the custard cool for 30 minutes.

Place the mangoes in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture into a small bowl, pressing on the solids with a spatula. Measure out 1 cup of the strained mango puree and whisk into the custard. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Churn the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze for another 2 hours.