Chilly Lime

26 07 2010

My recent forays into Indian cooking have left me with a large collection of hitherto unknown (to me) spices.  One such spice now lurking on my shelf is amchoor.

Amchoor - dried mango powder

The dried mango powder has a fruity, yet slightly savory tang that I wanted to try adding to all sorts of foods.  Starting with frozen yogurt.  Some extremely juicy limes I had in the fridge were begging to play along, so I let them.  Turning to David for an idea of proportions, I found a recipe for extra-tangy lemon frozen yogurt in his new book, Ready for Dessert.  Using that as a jumping-off point, I started mixing and tasting until I had the flavor I was looking for.  And then.

Then I saw the green finger chilis.  They made the limes’ begging look like a polite, reserved request.  So I took one out and began mincing.  I put half the pepper in the yogurt and tasted.  It didn’t seem that hot – I figured the cooling effect of the yogurt was negating some of the heat.  I tasted a piece of the pepper by itself, to gauge the level of spice.  I figured adding the other half-chili couldn’t hurt, the only problem being that the straight-pepper experience had temporarily numbed my tastebuds to any other flavors.  But no matter, my yogurt was ready to be frozen.

We’ve had a series of heatwaves in Paris this summer, broken up by periods of thunderstorms.  During the hot weeks, though, there is nothing like coming home from work on a steamy afternoon, putting something delightful into the ice cream maker to churn, cooling off with a shower, and being rewarded with a refreshing frozen treat.  This is why I have had four different kinds of homemade ice cream in the freezer at all times for the last month or so. 

Unfortunately, the chili-lime yogurt, upon churning, was not quite ready for primetime.  It was intensely lime-y and spicier than I intended (that’ll teach me to go eating raw chili peppers when I’m cooking).  The amchoor’s (you remember that – it was, at one time, the point of the yogurt) presence was subliminal.  But I wasn’t about to give up.  All it needed was the right garnish.  Something crunchy, sweet, and ever-so-slightly exotic.  That’s when the bag of macadamia nuts – which I bought for no reason other than I wanted to have them around – piped up.  “Make us into brittle.  We’ll be delicious, and buttery, and caramelized, and oh-so-good.”  I needed no further convincing.

Macadamia nut brittle

There was a near-tragedy when I realized that I had not sufficiently oiled the foil with which I had lined my sheet pan and counter, and the brittle was sticking like crazy.  (Another lesson learned: don’t be lazy and think that lining your sheet pan with foil is an appropriate substitute for washing it.)  I summoned all my patience and managed to let the candy cool completely before painstakingly picking off the shards of foil that didn’t want to let go of my sweet delight.

At the end of the day, though, the brittle was exactly what the yogurt needed.  The perfect rich, honeyed, tropical foil to the puckery, spicy frozen yogurt.

Lime & Chili Frozen Yogurt with Macadamia Brittle

Lime & Chili Frozen Yogurt

This recipe began life as a way to use up an exotic spice I had recently acquired: amchoor.  I thought the dried mango powder, with its fruity tang, would lend an exotic touch to lime frozen yogurt.  Then I saw a leftover green finger chili in the vegetable drawer and had a brainstorm.  If you don’t like spicy food, I’d recommend using only a half or even a quarter of a chili pepper.

1 lb.10 oz./750g plain yogurt
Zest of 2 limes
2½ oz./75ml lime juice (from about 4 limes)
4½ oz./125g raw sugar, such as cassonade or turbinado
1 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. amchoor (dried mango powder) (optional)
1 green finger chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Pinch of salt

  1. Blend or whisk all the ingredients together.  Taste and adjust sweetness as desired.  Chill thoroughly.
  2. Freeze in an ice cream maker per the machine’s instructions.
  3. Serve with Macadamia Nut Brittle (see below).

Makes about 1 quart/1 liter.

Macadamia Nut Brittle

Crunchy, buttery little bites of luxury. 

7oz./200g sugar
3oz./85 ml water
5oz./140g honey
8oz./230g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
Big pinch of salt
½oz./15g/1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (or use salted, but leave out the other salt)
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. vanilla extract

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and honey.  Cook over medium-high heat until it reaches 129 C/264 F.
  2. Add the macadamia nuts and salt and cook, stirring frequently, to 159 C/318 F.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, then the vanilla, and finally the baking soda.  The candy will foam up, so be careful.
  4. Pour onto a well-oiled sheet pan (or a Silpat, if you’re lucky enough to have one, but not foil unless you want to cry), and spread into an even layer, as thin as possible.  Leave it to cool and harden completely.
  5. Break into pieces.  A heavy instrument such as a rolling pin comes in handy for this step.  Serve as a garnish for frozen desserts, crush even more finely and stir it into just-churned ice cream (vanilla, banana, and coconut are a few suggestions), or just nibble on it straight.

Makes probably more than you need, but who’s going to complain?

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




12 responses

27 07 2010

Oh. My. Tootlepops. Is this what you meant when you said I’d love the frozen yogurt recipe you were working on? Because I too. Tangy desserts and chilli-heat are up there with my favourite things. Plus, you just led me to invent the word tootlepops. Wins all around!

27 07 2010

This is so gorgeous and impressive! Love the fusion combinations. Wonder what ice cream + Sichuan peppercorn would taste like? (Double numbing)

27 07 2010

Hannah – Yes it is! And well done on the new word. I shall have to introduce it into conversation as much as possible, which is bound to confuse some French people. 🙂

Ann – Thank you! We’ve already put some of those amazing Szechuan peppercorns into some vodka, but now we’re not sure what to do with it. I like the ice cream idea… I’ll have to do some experimenting!

28 07 2010

Wow, in VODKA?! This, I’ve got to try.

29 07 2010
hungry dog

The yogurt sounds both delicious and intriguing, but it’s the macadamia brittle I’m really in love with here. I’m fairly sure I could eat that on anything!

29 07 2010

Ann – It’s incredible how much flavor the vodka picked up in just one day!

hungry dog – Me, too. In fact, I had quite a bit left over, so now I’m devising other ice creams to go with it. 🙂 Hopefully I don’t snack it all away by the time I get around to making them…

1 08 2010

Oh, this sounds amazing. I really like the story as well, trying a bit of this and then some of that, to get to such an inventive ice cream. And of course, I’ve got a packet of amchoor waiting somewhere as well.
And an idea for my much-too-large supply of Szechuan peppercorns as well! But I first have to get some wodka as my holiday housesitter drank it all.

1 08 2010

esther – Thank you! It’s always fun to experiment with lesser-used spices. If you come up with any fabulous cocktail recipes starring the Szechuan peppercorn vodka, I’d love to hear about them!

3 08 2010

This is the first time I’m commenting on your blog – just had to do it today!
Amchoor in a dessert? That’s pretty intriguing!
I love amchoor – I use it in potato cutlets and other savory dishes. I would have never thought of using it in a frozen yogurt. Now I’m really curious to taste how this comes out & will try it out for sure!

4 08 2010

Grapefruit – Welcome! Amchoor is new to me, so I’ve been experimenting. I like the potato idea – I’ll have to try that.

4 08 2010

If you want to use it with potatoes (in cutlets – south asian style), just boil 2-3 large potatoes, mash them up and add around 1 tsp amchoor, finely chopped onion and green chillies, chopped coriander, salt and some red chilli powder as well as a dash of lemon juice. Shape into flat discs, dip into beaten egg & breadcrumbs and shallow-fry. Yum! 😉

5 08 2010

Grapefruit – Wow, that sounds great!

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