Actually, I should say Matt wanted beets for dessert, I think I've finally converted him into a beet lover too. We had picked up a bunch of baby beets at the farmers market & were pondering what to do with them. Matt's first (& only) suggestion was to make ice cream. We'd had beet ice cream last summer from the Chef Shack & I know Thomas Keller makes one so, it's not a completely original idea. I decided to do a gelato instead of ice cream because, well, it's really easier & we like gelato just as much.
I roasted the beets before puréeing them with the milk because I think roasting brings out a lot of sweetness from them. Matt suggested the vanilla as a way to give it even more of a dessert flavor & I think it went well with the flavor of the beet. When first churned, the ice cream tasted like beets but it was subtle, Matt thought it was almost more of a back of the mouth flavor. After curing in the freezer for a day though, the beet flavor is much more prominent. I think it's going to go wonderfully with the dark chocolate brownies I plan to serve it over tonight.
This was a total experiment so I only made a small batch, 2 - 3 small servings. If I make it again I will double the amount of everything except the beets. I think that would make the flavors of the vanilla & beet a little more even though, it would reduce the intensity of that beautiful pink color.
Vanilla Beet Gelato
1/2 c beets, cut into 1 - 1/2 inch pieces (for us this was 8 baby beets)
1 c milk
1/2 c cream
1/2 vanilla bean
6 T sugar
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Put the beets in a small roasting pan & drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir to coat. Roast for 15 minutes until softened.
Put the beets in a food processor with 1/4 cup of the milk. Process until as smooth as you can get it. Put this puréed beet mixture into a saucepan with the remaining milk & cream. Split the vanilla bean in half & scrape the seeds in to the pan. Add the scraped vanilla bean to the pan. Stir in the sugar. Heat over medium-low until the sugar is dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, make sure to remove the vanilla bean. (You can skip the straining step if you want little pieces of beet in your gelato, I wanted a smoother texture.) Chill in the fridge until cold.
Process according to the directions on your ice cream maker.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
I realize beet gelato might not be everyone's cup of tea but we certainly enjoyed playing with the idea & eating the results. Now I'm thinking of what other vegetables might make good ice cream flavors....parsnip ice cream anyone?!