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Cover: Founding Flavors

31Mar 13

Use Your Five Senses To Become a Dessert Connoisseur

I have recently been retraining myself to slow down when I eat for the purpose of truly appreciating what I’m consuming.  I’m not talking about enjoying the act of eating.  Rather, I’m referring to the use of all my senses to taste food, more specifically desserts, so that my awareness of the texture, color, smell, flavor, and ingredients used enable me to recall them later on when I’m experimenting in the kitchen.

It’s amazing how taking a little extra time to savor a dessert helps you discover a new level of complexity in something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie.  All of sudden, you realize that your taste buds pick up something salty before the sweetness of cookie dough and chocolate spread across your palate.  Or, you realize that the reason you enjoy the cookie so much is that it is a little crunchier from the outside and gooey on the inside.

Even though, at first, I felt silly analyzing my dessert-as I impersonated a wine connoisseur looking for notes of Madagascar vanilla and hints of toasted almonds-the extra effort paid-off when I decided to make pistachio ice cream.

A few months ago, I walked into an ice cream shop and had the most extraordinary pistachio ice cream I’ve ever eaten.   That’s pretty much all I remember from my first visit because by the time I thought to use my senses, it was too late.  But each time I went back to the ice cream shop, I’d take a moment to inspect the ice cream.  It had a soft shade of green that instantly left you feeling calm.   And, what I originally thought were pistachios, actually ended up being bits of pistachio paste.  Finally, the biggest surprise was that the slightly crunchy texture I felt was not pistachios but white chocolate.  Who would have known!  Especially, since it was exclusively labeled as pistachio ice cream.

Well, this past week I recalled the various aspects that made the pistachio ice cream so memorable and incorporated them into my own version, which is listed below.  The result was identical to the one I had eaten at the ice cream shop.  And, I have to admit that the one ingredient that made a world of difference was the white chocolate.  That’s right, the one ingredient that would have gone unnoticed had I not taken a second to contemplate and discover why I enjoyed the ice cream so much in the first place.

Whether you are a pro or just starting to learn to use your senses to appreciate what you consume, I would love to hear about your discoveries and creations.  So, leave a comment or send me an email with any stories or recipes you’ve mastered.


Pistachio Ice Cream Ingredients:
Egg yolks: 4 / 80 grams
Heavy cream: 1 ½ cup / 337 grams
Pistachio paste: ½ of the block
Skim milk: 1 ½ cup / 337 grams
Sugar: 1 cup / 225 grams
Vanilla powder: 2 tablespoons/ 14 grams
White chocolate shavings: 4 -5 tablespoons / 30 grams

Pistachio Paste Ingredients:
Pistachios: ¾ cup / 100 grams
Powdered sugar: ¾ cup /100 grams
Simple syrup: 3 tablespoons / 54 grams (To make simple syrup, place equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan and allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Allow the simple syrup to cool completely before using it. )


1. Combine milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Combine egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla powder into a mixing bowl.
3. Once the milk and cream mixture have come to a boil, add half a cup of it to the bowl containing the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla powder.  Make sure you are constantly mixing the ingredients as you add in the milk and cream mixture so that lumps are not created.  This process is referred to as tempering.  Then, pour the combined mixture into the saucepan containing the remaining milk and cream mixture.
4. Reheat the saucepan and use a thermometer to ensure that the mixture reaches 170-180°F.
5. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
6. To make the pistachio paste, simply add all ingredients to a food processor.  Then, shape the paste into a rectangular block, cover, and refrigerate.
7. After at least 6 hours, remove the ice cream mixture from the refrigerator and pour into the ice cream maker.
8. Add one to two drops of green food coloring to the mixture.  Continue to add food color to get your desired shade of green.
9. After 25 minutes, use your hands or a grater to create pistachio paste shavings and add them to the ice cream maker.
10. Finally, use a grater or knife to create the white chocolate shavings and add them to the ice cream maker.
11. After 30 minutes, pour the ice cream into a container and place in the freezer or serve.

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