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Desserts

Buckwheat ice cream

Buckwheat ice cream
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

When I baked in a restaurant, one day someone gave us a flat metal instrument called the Wacker. It was basically a shovel-shaped tool normally used for scooping ice cream, but the slogan on the package suggested it had other ... Read more

Total time: 30 minutes, plus infusing, chilling and freezing time | Makes 1 quart
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat kernels
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon buckwheat (or strong-flavored) honey
  • 4 egg yolks

Step 1In a wide saucepan, toast the buckwheat kernels over medium heat, stirring frequently until they smell toasty and begin to take on a deeper color, about five minutes. Remove from heat and cool a few minutes, stirring them to hasten the cooling. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the toasted buckwheat kernels, keeping the remainder in the pan.

Step 2Add the milk and salt to the pan of buckwheat. Warm the mixture to a bare simmer over medium-low heat, then remove from heat, cover and infuse for 1 hour.

Step 3Strain the buckwheat-infused milk through a strainer into another saucepan, pressing hard to extract as much of the milk as you can. (You should have about 1 3/4 cups.) Discard the buckwheat. Stir the sugar into the saucepan.

Step 4Pour the cream and honey into a large bowl, then set in a larger bowl of ice water to create an ice bath. Rest a strainer over the top of the bowl.

Step 5Return the milk to a simmer. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl. When the milk is hot, whisk it into the egg yolks gradually, whisking continuously to temper them as a custard forms. Scrape the warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula, until the custard thickens.

Step 6Immediately strain the custard into the bowl with the cream and honey, then stir until well-chilled. Refrigerate the mixture until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 7While the custard is churning, crush the reserved buckwheat kernels with a mortar and pestle, or in a sturdy plastic bag with a rolling pin, just until they're slightly broken up. Fold the crushed buckwheat kernels into the ice cream just after churning. Store in the freezer until firm.

Note: Buckwheat kernels (sometimes called kasha) can be found at well-stocked grocery stores, cooking stores and health food markets. For a variation, fold in 2 tablespoons roasted cocoa nibs instead of buckwheat kernels at recipe's end. Leftover buckwheat can be mixed into muffin or quick-bread batter. Cooked with additional milk, dried fruit and a bit of sweetener, it makes a terrific warm cereal.

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