Monday, August 16, 2010

Foodie Fights: Frozen Tamarind-Apricot Custard with Brown Sugar-Pistachio Toffee

"I hope this is what you had in mind," my husband said as he walked in the door. He had a plastic shopping bag in his hand.

"I don't know what I had in mind. I've never seen it before," I said, taking the bag and looking at the two bricks of tamarind pulp inside. I smiled at him, "This is going to be awesome."

Before signing up for this Foodie Fights battle I'd never heard of tamarind. Apparently I've been living in a cave because this is not some obscure ingredient. From Mexican to Tai to Indian food, tamarind is a common, staple ingredient. Like I said, a cave.

This, of course, is one of the reason's why I love Foodie Fights. Yes, I love the challenge of coming up with recipes, but I've been introduced to foods I don't think would have tried cooking with on my own: Pomegranate, Semolina Flour, Starfruit, Tamarind....Thanks guys :)

To make a usable paste from the pulp I softened 1/4 cup pulp in 1/4 cup hot water for 15 minutes. Then I used a fork to mash it around and really loosen the pulp from the solids, and pressed it all through a fine-mesh strainer. After scraping the stuff (goop) off the bottom of the strainer I was left with about 1/4 cup of thick tamarind paste.

After tasting the tamarind paste straight I felt like I had one of those big cartoon question marks above my head. I had no idea how this frozen custard was going to turn out. I thought apricots and cinnamon would work, but it might flop, too. I was very happy to find that it was very, very good; happy-dance good. The tamarind has a distinct flavor--you can't really compare it's sweet-tart flavor to anything else--and combining it with the apricots and cinnamon produced a delicious, round-in-your-mouth taste. Add the egg yolks, half and half, and cream, and you have a super-creamy, delightfully-flavored dessert.

Frozen Tamarind-Apricot Custard
Printable Recipe

12 dried apricots
4 egg yolks
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup tamarind paste (see above)
1 cup half and half
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Put the dried apricots in a small sauce pan, cover them with water by about 1 inch, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the apricots to a small container (reserve cooking water) and puree with a stick blender until smooth, adding 2-3 tablespoons of the cooking water as needed. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and brown sugar until thick and creamy. Add the tamarind paste, half and half, and cinnamon, and whisk until smooth.

3. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

4. Cool the mixture until luke-warm and then transfer it to a bowl, put plastic wrap directly on the surface, cover with a lid, and refrigerator until very cold (I ended up leaving mine over-night).

5. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions, transfer to a bowl, cover, and harden in your freezer for at least 4 hours.

Note: I found that after 4 hours it was still pretty soft, but I don't know if it's because I didn't leave it in the freezer long enough, my freezer isn't cold enough, frozen custards don't get as hard as ice cream, or because this combination of ingredients just doesn't freeze very hard. It's a mystery.

I love pistachios. They're so, so tasty, and just look at those colors! Gorgeous!

I wanted to make some kind of toffee to go with my frozen custard, and thought it would be pretty with some chopped pistachios on it. I was right. Do pistachios go with tamarind? Maybe. I should publicly thank my daughter for shelling them for me. She got paid in pistachios. Win-win, I say.

Brown Sugar-Pistachio Toffee

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (see above)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
pinch kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3-1/2 cup chopped, shelled pistachios (I sifted out the tiny pieces)

1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Add the brown sugar, water, tamarind paste, corn syrup, salt, and mix well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until the brown sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Clip on a candy thermometer and cook the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 290 deg (just above the soft crack stage on my thermometer). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

3. Immediately pour the toffee out onto a silpat mat and gently spread it with a metal spatula if needed. Immediately again--because it hardens quickly--sprinkle on the chopped pistachios. Allow the toffee to harden completely.

4. Break the toffee into pieces small enough to use to garnish your frozen custard.

You can go here to see what the other four contestants entered in this battle. Take a look and cast your vote! *:)*


  1. this sounds like a great combination! love the pistachio toffee idea to accompany it as well!

  2. Yum I am a fan of ice cream, have even entered my own into battle. The toffee is beautiful. Good Luck.

  3. That sounds GOOD! I was going to attempt a tamarind flavored ice cream, but I'm very new at them so I wasn't really sure how to incorporate the tamarind, and am too poor to be able to try it twice if the first time didn't work :)

    I might have to steal this recipe and try it myself, as I also LOVE toffee and pistachios. Good luck!

  4. @Bryan, lol :) This is my first time making ice cream and I didn't have time to give it another try, so I'm *very* lucky it turned out as well as it did. BTW, I enjoyed reading your post--I like your writing voice :) Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. This is your first time making ice-cream and it looked THIS good? Wow, I'm very impressed! Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog. I really like your recipe and have bookmarked it because in my house, we have tons of tamarind (we use it in our cooking often). Good luck with the battle!

  6. @Subterfuge Diva,thanks for your compliment :) If you ever do try it, keep in mind that it's really heavy, rich, and creamy, and might be better with 2 egg yolks instead of 4, or maybe whole milk and cream instead of half & half and cream. I'm going to have to experiment :)

  7. This recipe makes me want to get an ice cream maker!

  8. @Matthew, lol! I actually borrowed one to make this. I'm afraid if I get one I'll want to make ice cream all the time! :)

  9. WOW Tiffiny that sounds so amazing! I have heard of tamarind but never used it. Kudos to you!!

  10. Looks MARVELOUS! THe first time I attempted to use tamarind paste, I was flummoxed by all the fiber and seed muck. I gamely tried to stir it in anyway (can't even remember what recipe now), with unfortunate results. A little bit of internet research would have saved me a mess :P. I'm thinking I'll have to give it another try!


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