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Default Omaha: "Spice Cream" ice cream flavored with herbs and spices is hot!

from the Omaha World-Herald:
Published Wednesday August 5, 2009

Spice cream

Chocolate and strawberry ice creams seem downright vanilla these days.

Spicy, floral and herbaceous flavors such as chile, ginger, cardamom, lavender, basil and dill are increasingly finding favor in the freezer in Omaha and beyond.

Find the evidence at local ice cream shops and on cooking shows like “Top Chef Masters,” where a basil ice cream not only drew raves from diners but won over a critic who previously suggested such “grass clippings” don’t belong in ice cream.

Cinnamon and fresh mint seem to be the gateway flavors. The often-used baking spice and dessert garnish are familiar to many, said Abby Klusmire, co-owner of eCreamery, the ice cream shop in Dundee that fields custom orders from all over the world.

Cinnamon ice cream is a perennial favorite at eCreamery and elsewhere in Omaha.

Jeanne Ohira, co-owner of Ted & Wally’s in the Old Market, said tea and mint flavors also have made inroads this past year.

And from cinnamon and mint, cardamom, ginger and basil are an easy jump.

Klusmire admits she wasn’t sure how well basil ice cream would go over when she made her first batch with basil from her mom’s garden last summer. But that flavor sells out every time she makes it. Other herby and spicy combos she’s tried: cucumber-dill, cardamom-chocolate and chocolate-chipotle. She even occasionally makes ice cream with saffron or habanero peppers.

Clean Plate, the temporary raw-foods restaurant opening in NoDo on Saturday, counts a Mexican favorite, the chili-spiked mango popsicle, among its late-night treats. Folks sampling them at a Cursive concert two weeks ago had sticky fingers and high praise for the hot-cold-fruity combination.

As it turns out, spicing up homemade ice creams and sorbets is a cinch: You can add chopped herbs or whole spices to warmed milk-and-cream or juice-and-simple-syrup mixtures before chilling and churning. Or you can add powdered spices to a cold mixture just before freezing, provided you blend it well.

Such herbed and spiced ice creams can send an ordinary dessert in a whole new direction. And once you open your mind to the spice cabinet and the herb garden, the possibilities are endless: fresh strawberries with basil ice cream? Almond biscotti with lemon-thyme sorbet? Brownies with chocolate-cardamom frozen custard? Mmm-hm.

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basil, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorn, spices

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