Mexican Ice Cream: Beloved Recipes and Stories, written by Fany Gerson, features over 60 classic and unique Mexican ice cream flavors such as Nieve de Mamey (Mamey Ice Cream), Helado de Ron con Pasas (Rum Raisin Ice Cream), Helado de Tres Leches (Tres Leches Ice Cream), Nieve de Mango Endiablado (Deviled Mango Sorbet- photo on the cover),and even Nieve de Tamarindo con Chile y Chapulines (Tamarind-Chile Sorbet with Grasshoppers) paired with beautiful photographs and stories. I will also be sharing Fany’s recipe for Helado de Horchata (Horchata Ice Cream) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Ten Speed Press in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Fany Gerson, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, was born in Mexico City and is currently based in New York City. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Gourmet, Fine Cooking, Saveur, Food & Wine, and New York magazines. In addition to La Newyorkina, she is also the chef and co-owner of Dough. Her previous books include Paletas and My Sweet Mexico (nominated in 2011 for a James Beard Award for Best Baking & Desserts Cookbook).
Chapters are divided according to the following: Sorbets (Nieves de Agua); Classic Mexican Ice Creams (Helados Clásicos Mexicanos); Modern Mexican Ice Creams (Helados del México Moderno); Spicy and Boozy Flavors (Sabores Picositos y Borrachitos); and Cones, Toppings, and Sauces (Conos, Toppings, y Salsitas).
Fany begins with an introduction to Mexican ice cream, its history, and the traditions that make it so special. After reading her stories, all I want to do is travel around Mexico sampling ice cream and paletas. I love the incredible attention to detail, particularly the focus on regional ingredients/specialties and the inclusion of notable ice cream makers such as Eugenio Aguilar of Helados Aguilar in Dolores Hidalgo.
I have not had the chance to visit Fany’s La Newyorkina shop (her renovated West Village location reopened just a couple of days after our more recent visit), but I did stop by Dough during our first trip to New York City for an Horchata doughnut. Apparently I have a thing for Horchata-themed desserts (and horchata in general). Hopefully I can visit La Newyorkina when we go back to New York City someday, but in the meantime at least I can enjoy these wonderful flavors at home!
The vibrant photography is provided by Fernando Gomez Carbajal (on location) and Justin Walker (studio). Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully-styled, full page photo. I especially enjoyed the pictures of ice cream being churned by hand (or rather by a large wooden paddle). The titles are written in English and Spanish with measurements listed in US Customary. There is a measurement conversion chart towards the back of the book.
This book is a great pick for those who have a love for ice cream. An ice cream maker is a must to complete most of the recipes, but many of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. Items that may be more difficult to find include Mexican chocolate, key limes, nopales, masa harina, soursop, rose petals, chongos zamoranos, mamey, tamarind, grasshoppers, hoja santa, and a variety of dried chiles. In lieu of the creamy raw milk that is often used as the base for ice cream in Mexico, Fany substitutes with half-and-half and other mixtures to help replicate the rich consistency and flavor. Her explanations are easy to follow and I especially love her tips scattered throughout, including creating a sorbet with a creamy consistency and how to pick out the best produce.
Horchata Ice Cream (Helado de Horchata)
Of all the ice creams and sorbets I tried, this Horchata Ice Cream (Helado de Horchata) was my absolute favorite. The Mexican version of Horchata is a creamy drink with rice and cinnamon. Fany turns these flavors into an ice cream by toasting long-grain rice, almonds, and cinnamon until fragrant, then steeping them in half-and-half for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to fully infuse. The mixture is pureed and strained before blending with egg yolks and gently cooking into a thickened custard. It needs to chill thoroughly before freezing in an ice cream maker.
The Horchata Ice Cream can be served straight from the ice cream maker with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon for a soft consistency or frozen for at least 2-3 hours before serving for a firmer consistency.
I also made Nieve de Oasis- Fresa, Piña, y Naranja (Strawberry, Pineapple, and Orange Sorbet), Helado de Chocolate Mexicano (Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream), Helado de Pay de Limón (Lime Pie Ice Cream), and Conos de Azúcar (Sugar Cones).
The recipe for Nieve de Oasis (Strawberry, Pineapple, and Orange Sorbet) was inspired by Fany’s travels to Puebla and her visit to El Carmen (Super Paletería Mary Barragán). Oasis refers to juices and sorbets that include 3-4 different fruits. The combination of strawberry and pineapple with the orange juice in this sorbet was a huge hit.
When Evan flipped through the book, he immediately asked me to make this Helado de Chocolate Mexicano (Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream). The creamy ice cream base includes both Dutch-process cocoa powder and melted Mexican chocolate, with even more chopped Mexican chocolate finely chopped and mixed in towards the end of the churning process.
The Helado de Pay de Limón (Lime Pie Ice Cream) was Chad’s favorite. I especially loved the use of sweetened condensed milk. It is mixed with half-and-half, lime juice and zest, and Maria cookies or graham crackers for an ice cream with a creamy texture and crunch from pieces of the crushed cookies. I opted for the graham crackers only because I had recently made a homemade batch.
In addition the the variety of ice creams and sorbets, Fany also includes a section for accompaniments such as Cajeta (Goat’s Milk Caramel), Manguitos Enchilados (Spicy Mangoes), and Compota de Cerezas con Jamaica (Cherry-Hibiscus Compote). I made mini cones using her Conos de Azúcar (Sugar Cones) recipe with my petite waffle iron, though her instructions do not require an iron of any kind. Rather, it uses a nonstick skillet and a cone roller to make the iconic shape. The cones can also be dunked in chocolate.
I usually transfer ice cream to a glass container to freeze, but ended up using these paper containers for storage since I made so many flavors in such a short time.
Horchata Ice Cream (Helado de Horchata) Recipe
Excerpt from Mexican Ice Cream
Horchata Ice Cream
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/3 cup long-grain rice
- 1 (3 inch) piece Mexican cinnamon
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Ground Mexican cinnamon for sprinkling
In a large saucepan, toast the almonds, rice, and cinnamon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the almonds are slightly golden and the cinnamon is very fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the half-and-half, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 2 hours.
In a blender, working in two batches, puree the almond mixture until the nuts are pulverized and resemble a coarse flour. Pour each batch through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and press down on the solids with a spatula or spoon to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids in the strainer. Blend the liquid in batches and strain once more; discard any solids left in the strainer.
Partially fill a large bowl with ice and water, place a medium bowl in the ice water, and set the fine-mesh strainer across the top.
Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually ladle in about half of the hot liquid while whisking continuously. Whisk this mixture into the liquid in the saucepan and cook, stirring continuously, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Pour the custard through the strainer into the prepared bowl, add the salt and vanilla, and stir until cool. Remove the bowl from the ice bath, cover, and refrigerate until the custard is cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Whisk the custard to recombine. Freeze and churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. For a soft consistency, serve the ice cream right away; for a firmer consistency, transfer it to a container, cover, and allow to Harden in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours. Serve the ice cream sprinkled with ground Mexican cinnamon.