Kathy Miles, whose Green Tomato Mint Sorbet earned her a finalist spot in the 2011 Top Tomato competition, was talking with recipe editor Bonnie S. Benwick last year about the contest. "Bonnie said to me, 'No one has done a good ice cream,' " Miles said. She took that as a challenge and came up with this one, which we thought was impressive enough to make her a finalist again this year.
You'll need an ice cream maker.
Make Ahead: The assembled ice cream needs to be frozen for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
Servings: 5.5 cups
- For the tomatoes and tomato paste
- 4 cups whole peeled tomatoes, from 3 to 3 1/2 pounds plum or other meaty tomatoes (see NOTE), or more as needed
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- For the ice cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole or low-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons packed peeled, shredded ginger root (using the large-hole side of a box grater)
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
For the tomatoes and tomato paste: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Working with one at a time, hold each tomato over the strainer, cut it in half horizontally and scoop out the insides and any hard or pithy areas, letting them fall into the strainer. Tear the tomato flesh into large chunks and transfer them to a separate medium bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press the tomato flesh in the strainer, pressing as much juice as possible into the bowl. Drain any liquid from the cut tomatoes and add it to the bowl with the juice. If you do not have 2 cups of juice, cut more tomatoes to get it.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tomato chunks on the sheet in a single layer.
Combine the brown sugar and garam masala in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the tomatoes are dried but still have softer, fleshy parts. (They should not be as hard as sun-dried tomatoes.)
Meanwhile, combine the 2 cups of reserved tomato liquid and 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Taste, and add up to 4 teaspoons of the granulated sugar to make a sweet juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the liquid is somewhere between a heavy syrup and a paste in consistency. When it begins to get very thick, stir it constantly. You will have a little less than 2 tablespoons. Let cool, but do not refrigerate.
For the ice cream: Beat the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on medium speed, until they are pale yellow in color. Reduce the speed to low; combine the sugar and flour, then gradually add the mixture to the beaten yolks, until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add the milk, beating to incorporate.
Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture steams and thickens slightly to form a custard; do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the ginger. (Do not add the ginger earlier, or the custard will curdle.) Once the custard has cooled, transfer it to the refrigerator to chill.
To assemble: Cut the dried tomatoes into bite-size pieces to yield 1 cup. Reserve any extra for another use.
Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer. If you like a strong ginger flavor, press the shreds against the sieve to force out more of their moisture. Discard the ginger. Add the cream to the custard and mix well. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions.
Use a flexible spatula to swirl the tomato syrup/paste into the soft ice cream, then add the tomatoes, distributing them evenly. By this point the syrup/paste should be evenly distributed, too, but it’s fine if there are swirls left.
Transfer the mixture to the freezer to firm up for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
NOTE: To peel tomatoes, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Cut an "X" in the bottom of the tomato and remove the stem. Place a couple of tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds -- no longer. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. The skin should simply slip off.
From Top Tomato 2012 finalist Miles, of La Plata.
Tested by Becky Krystal.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.