AI ice cream flavours

aiicecream

Spotted via fastcompany, a group of school children from Texas used a neural network to generate ice cream flavour names.

The programmer of the neural network is Janelle Shane and she has a text-generating AI called textgenrnn which takes inputted datapoints and generate related text based on those. Shane had previously used 200 ice cream flavours and the results were less than satisfactory, including silence cherry, strawberry cream disease, sock caramel.

The schoolkids used a total of 1600 flavours, and together with the AI’s learning ability, generated more appetising flavours such as honey vanilla happy, team cherry, oh and cinnamon. That said, other flavour names generated include washing chocolate, mango cat, gravey cashew. There was also one flavour known simply as bug.

Still, pretty impressive.

iphone ice cream

iphoneicecream

Sis gave me a bunch of haagen-dazs vouchers that had been sitting in my backpack for months. They expire on 31 oct so I’ve been a little stressed out trying to figure out how to use them up. I gave them to mum last sunday but she came home empty-handed claiming the shop only served scoops. She also thought we can use them at the supermarket. Um, mum, you can’t use vouchers for shop A in shop B even though shop B sells A brands. That’s r/talesfromretail territory. Plus I know H-D shops have tubs, just need to ask.

Today mum’s out to lunch with her friends so I walked to the H-D shop in the nearby shopping centre. Lo and behold, they do have tubs, only they’re not obviously displayed. They have a special offer of two family-sized tubs for local$238. So I used up 4 of the $50 vouchers. They can put 2 flavours in each tub so I came home with 4 flavours: chocolate, macadamia brittle, blueberry, yuzu. The tubs are pretty large and the server really packed the ice cream in tight. I was showing mm the size and used my spare iphone as unit of measurement.

I had a total of $350 in vouchers so I need to use up the remaining $150. The plan is to meet up with mm at the weekend and go to the H-D shop near her. Neither of us have enough space in our freezers but we can just get scoops.

chocolate truffle ice cream

Met mm and lily for lunch to share japan travel experience. At first we talked about going together but extensive communication with lily showed that we have different travel styles so best if we stuck to sharing experiences.

We went to toast box and had laksa. It’s a casual semi-fast food place so we could sit there as long as we liked; and we ended up having more drinks. Singapore place, so teh-o for me. It was a hot day but dry so we walked around for a bit after lunch.

Lily went home for dinner and we continued to look for a replacement fridge. My credit card points run out tomorrow so we were especially in a hurry. The problem was the available space, width and height were okay but not deep enough for most of the models we thought we okay. The smart shop assistant suggested we call up the bank to check if I can extend the points and, yay, success! Three months’ extension which solves the urgency issue.

We had wine and pizza at hmv café to celebrate and then went to find this ice cream stall. I had 2 vouchers for a free ice cream cone that expire tomorrow and no extension this time. This was from a chocolate place called dalloyau that we’d never heard of. Their shops are in the high-end shopping centres and they seem to peddle expensive chocolate, cake and coffee. The vouchers are for specifically, chocolate truffle ice cream.

choctruffleicecream

As soon as the assistant handed me the cone I knew it wasn’t quite the chocolate truffle we were thinking of. Instead of truffle made from hot cream/milk and chocolate, this is truffle the mushroom-fungus that grows in the ground and gets shaved over food like pasta and omelettes. The smell is distinctive. The problem for me, it overwhelmed the rich chocolate taste of the ice cream and left an unpleasant aftertaste.

Adding truffle to a dish instantly signals it’s something luxurious and exclusive. And like the gold leaf ice cream we didn’t try in Kanazawa, truffle in ice cream screams of pretentiousness, pointlessness and frankly, lack of palette. At least gold doesn’t taste of anything. I have come across truffle in dessert before and mushroom dessert is unusual, but can be tasty. Obviously no one in dalloyau watched the episode on MKR where truffled truffles with truffle ice cream got creamed by the judges.

The conclusion is, this shop added a luxurious ingredient for marketing purposes and we are clearly not shallow enough to be in their target market.

gelato university

siena018gelato

I saw an article about a gelato university in Italy, of course.

A little googling reveals that it’s a combined museum and school in Bologna, offering different courses in 4 languages:

to assist all those entrepreneurs throughout the world who want to open gelato shops, as well as those who are already working in the sector but seek to strive towards gelato excellence

Courses range from casual one day tasting at €100 to a fully immersive 4 week course that combines their basic, intermediate, advanced and internship courses for €4000. Students learn techniques, recipes, recipe design, flavour balance and the business aspects of running a gelato shop.

Sounds fun. €4000 is a lot, and here are also accommodation, airfares and daily expenses to consider too. In comparison, the 9-month pastry course at le cordon bleu in Paris is €22800. Guess it’s a matter of supply vs demand. There are people who want to open gelato shops and they may see the course as investment.

And talking about gelato and ice cream, here’s a sort of related but not really sandwich alignment chart that was on twitter:

I’ve had ice cream in a sandwich made with bread. I’ve had sandwiches made with waffles. So ice cream between waffles is definitely a sandwich. Anything between or wrapped in an edible container is a sandwich.

keep calm and eat more ice cream

icecream5scoops

We’re all in need of some good cheer. From thekitchn: tell us your favorite ice cream and we’ll tell you your age.

My top 5 ice cream flavours:

  1. sesame
  2. green tea
  3. tofu
  4. vanilla
  5. mango

I’m not taking the results of the article too seriously. For a start, they don’t have 4 of my 5 favourites. As for vanilla:

Vanilla Ice Cream: You’re 21 Years Old

You’re an adult. Full stop. You’re finally comfortable admitting to yourself that a good scoop of vanilla really isn’t boring. In fact, it’s downright delicious when done right. When you’re feeling really fancy, you might even add on some sundae-esque toppings, because why not? You’re an adult!

Arrr, I’m 12 not 21. The closest to 12 years old is strawberry and I hardly ever order strawberry if there are other choices.

Strawberry Ice Cream: You’re 13 Years Old

Life can be hard and complicated when you’re 13, but when it comes to ice cream, you don’t even need to think twice. This pink ice cream filled with strawberries is so sophisticated and adult.

The ones I don’t like on the list: pralines and cream (70 years old) because it’s way too sweet and coffee (52 years old) because I don’t drink coffee. Bubblegum ice cream (4 years old) is a bit iffy but I’ll try a bite.

greenteakitkaticecream

The other day I spotted a poster at a convenience store of a green kitkat ice cream cone. We’ve been missing mint choc chip (29 years old) cones they seem to have completely disappeared. On further examination and after I bought the cone I realised it’s green tea not mint ice cream. It was still very nice and the kitkat finger in the middle is like having a 99. Oh, TIL 99s have been called 99s since the 1930s. But on the question of why are 99s called 99s, no one seems to know the exact answer. More outrageous answers include:

  1. the roman numerals 99 is IC for ice cream
  2. the flake is 99mm long
  3. they were 99p
  4. someone claimed his grandfather invented it and named it after the address of the family’s shop at 99 Portobello High St, Edinburgh
  5. something about the number Italian (or Swiss?) guards guarding the king = 99 and Italians are most associated with ice cream (“just one cornetto…”)

Who cares? Summer is here. Keep calm and eat more ice cream.

mcdonald’s apple pie sundae

I wanted to get a mcdonald’s ice cream cone the other day after running, a treat for myself on the walk home. Something was wrong with their machine and there was a 20-min wait so I left without it. I then spotted a video about mcdonald’s pies around the world and saw that I can get apple pie à la mode. (Taro and red bean pies are my favourites, the usually sell out quickly so we get a few more and freeze them if we come across them.)

applepiesundaemcdhkmenu

Normally iIt’s an easy hack, just order an apple pie and an ice cream and either ask them to mix or mix it yourself. But this was a genuine menu item that could be found on the promotions website, cost around the equivalent of 99p. They break an apple pie in two, add ice cream and choice of strawberry or chocolate sauce.

applepiesundaemcdhk

It’s cheaper than getting a pie and regular sundae separately, but the amount of ice cream is lesser, around the same as the plain cone. Which then makes it not good value because pie+cone cost less than apple pie sundae, perhaps the extra cost is the sauce? Or novelty factor? Ah well, it’s such an insignificant amount, not worth worrying about. It’s not very likely I’ll order it again any time soon.

Sometimes the actual item looks nothing like the official pics, in this case the resemblance is not too bad.

 

chocolate ice cream day

chochazelnuticecream

In terms of bizarre holidays, it’s chocolate ice cream day. There doesn’t seem to be a reliable source of origin for the day, it was probably invented by an ice cream manufacturer to market their product.

Chocolate isn’t my first choice ice cream flavour. Not even second, third or tenth. That said, I came across chocolate hazelnut flavour the other day and stocked it in parents’ freezer. Had a couple of scoops with a pear. Pear and chocolate go very well together and the nuts gave it another texture.

ice cream with chocolate soil

chocsoilicecream2014

The whole family went for curry buffet at the yacht club. It’s very hard to take a picture of curry, and of buffet dishes so I won’t even try. My niece didn’t have the curry, instead she ordered spag bol and ice cream. The ice cream was mint choc and topped with chocolate soil, served in a flower pot. Looks great! The soil was broken up oreos. How a little creativity and artistic presentation gave additional wow factor to a good dessert. 

30in30 #22 bizarre holiday: chocolate milkshake day

Task #22 of 30in30 is to celebrate a bizarre holiday. Since I have homemade vanilla ice cream, it’s perfect to celebrate chocolate milkshake day.
All I did was blitz together 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with chocolate milk. It seemed the easiest, without having to buy chocolate syrup or cocoa powder, which are the usual ingredients used. It wasn’t chocolate-y enough so I melted some 70% chocolate into the mixture. Why 70% chocolate? I only have baking chocolate in my fridge.

chocmilkshake01

Very rich, a little to sweet for my taste, which I know because the ice cream was too sweet. Chocolate isn’t my first choice for ice cream or milkshake, so if it weren’t for the national chocolate milkshake day, I would probably just had the vanilla ice cream on its own or with some fruit. I can’t imagine how many calories, I made myself go running for 5 miles in torrential rain for this.

handmade vanilla ice cream

vanillaicecreamzoku04

When I was in Chicago during the summer, I walked past a Williams-Sonoma, couldn’t help but go inside and ended up buying a couple of zoku ice cream makers. I don’t have space for an ice cream maker, so this small bowl seemed to be a great idea — no churning, and it claims to make ice cream in 10mins.

I’ve watched enough cookery competition programs to know that the best ice cream is made from a custard base. The recipe I used is from david liebovitz, one of the few american cookery writers who give metric measurements. I used half his recipe.

125ml milk — I used hi-calcium 2% milk, because that’s what I have in my fridge
75g sugar — I think this is too much, next time I’ll start with 50g
3 egg yolks — I splurged and bought best quality organic “intense flavour” eggs from japan
250ml whipping cream
1 vanilla pod — if I halved the recipe I should have used half a pod, but I used a whole one anyway, I scraped the seeds out and the pod is now soaking in bourbon to make vanilla extract

Gently heat milk, sugar and vanilla seeds until sugar has melted. Slowly add to egg yolks, whisk and return to pan. Heat very slowly, stirring constantly to make the custard, it will be ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool.

In a separate bowl, cool the cream in an ice bath. Add the custard, stir and whisk until thickened and cold. The mixture can be kept in the fridge until ready to make the ice cream.

The instructions for the zoku is to chill the inner bowl in the freezer for 12hrs. The bowl is made of an inner metallic bowl and an outer ceramic bowl with coolant inside. At room temperature I can shake the bowl and feel the fluid sloshing inside. When frozen the coolant feels solid.

To make the ice cream, add a portion of the custard mixture to the frozen bowl, no more than half full. Then stir, fold and scrape for about 10mins until the mixture turns from a thick liquid to frozen ice cream. It really works!

Because all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality, and because I used real cream and a whole vanilla pod, the ice cream tasted unbelievable. Smooth and rich and creamy and simply irrestible.

chocolate semifreddo

chocsemifreddo002

In an early Naked Chef program, Jamie Oliver made semifreddo with maltesers, berries and some other stuff that he just threw into the mixture. That was the first time I came across semifreddo, which is Italian for “half cold.” Somewhere in between a frozen mousse and an ice cream is the best description.

This chocolate semifreddo recipe is itself adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe. I didn’t want to make a big batch, so this is half the recipe.

125g dark chocolate (I used toblerone)
2 medium eggs + 1 egg yolk
75g sugar — this was too much, next time I’ll use 50g or less
225ml whipping cream
1tbsp good quality cocoa

Melt chocolate over a bain marie and set aside to cool. Once melted it won’t set again. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk and sugar over a very slow bain marie until pale and thick — by hand it took 10mins and the mixture had more than doubled its volume. I periodically took the bowl off the heat so the eggs don’t cook. Take the bowl off the heat completely and continue whisking as it cools, another 5-10mins. The mixture by now was glossy and had the consistency of soft meringue. Fold in the melted chocolate.

In another bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks stage and add the cocoa. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.

Line a rectangular tin with clingfilm. I actually used one of those takeaway plastic boxes, it was the right size and had a lid. Pour the mixture into the tin/box and leave to freeze overnight.

It was absolutely like mousse and ice cream. Very rich, smooth and chocolate-y. Quite dense, a small slice was enough. Because it was made from eggs and cream it had very little water content so didn’t need to be constantly stirred like ice cream. Could have actually scooped it out like ice cream too. Next time I won’t waste the remaining egg white, I’ll whisk it up and add it with the cream. May be serve it with strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

two desserts

fauchonicecheesecake01 bluevanilla

An all around eating out day. Lunch with mm at Bistrot Le Fauchon, 2 courses with tea/coffee for just over US$10. Salad for starter, I had duck breast and she had a lamb shank. We shared a carafe of wine and a dessert off the à la carte menu. Haven’t tried iced cheesecake before, it was beautifully presented in a cone made from dark and white chocolate. Very nice, creamy and not too sweet, just a hint of cheese. Found a recipe worth trying — seems to be normal chilled cheesecake but frozen instead.

Met with sis and gis for early dinner before taking gis to the Dr Bunhead show. Gis had goats cheese tart and I had a scotch egg—still full from lunch. Afterwards we headed over to Holly Brown for ice cream. Another first for me—blue vanilla ice cream, which I had coldstoned with blueberries. My tongue was blue! Taste was creamy, fruity and I enjoyed it.

handmade ice cream

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Yesterday, my last full day in Chicago, was spent resting my tired legs, uploading marathon pics and generally not doing a whole lot. Walked out to Walgreens for some last minute stuff. And passed by shawn michelle’s handmade ice cream store. I’d read reviews of the place and had always wanted to try whenever I drove past. They weren’t ready when I walked by before lunch, so when my friend M came to visit I suggested that we went there.

They gave us free samples, lots of them. I decided on vanilla and honey cinnamon graham cracker. Very nice. M had banana and butter pecan which also looked yummy. Now I’m sorry I didn’t start going there earlier.

the sorry state of ice cream in the UK

gingericecream fiveminticecream

I ran 12km this morning, so I’m allowed ice cream. I had this Waitrose stem ginger ice cream that’s supposed to be “seriously creamy”. Well, it’s okay, but why do they have to put chocolate bits in it?? Sigh. Looking around the ice cream cabinets at Tesco or Sainsburys and it’s 90% chocolate or caramel or one of those very sweet flavours. The Haagen-Dazs page on ocado shows: cookies & cream, choc choc chip, pralines & caramel, chocolate midnight cookies, cookie dough, vanilla, belgium chocolate, white chocolate & raspberry, dulce de leche. The only respite from the chocolate, cookies and caramel attack is strawberry cheesecake. Sigh. I know H-D has many more flavours in the US. Why aren’t they available in the UK?

It’s the same story when I look at Ben & Jerrys available here — phish food, chocolate fudge brownie, cookie dough, cherry garcia, caramel chew chew, half baked. I wonder if British people only like chocolate or heavy flavoured ice creams? I know there are other choices, but I don’t find that there is enough for me. The problem is I’m confined to smaller stores, and therefore the choices are not great.

What I miss are the delicate five ice creams: mint, lemon, strawberry, vanilla bean. Only 5 ingredients. Frozen yogurts. Talenti gelatos and sorbets. Starbucks ice cream. Dairy Queen. Even rainbow sherbert. I’ll stop now.

ice cream is not a gadget is it?

icecreamhoney

What’s up with ice cream on gadget blogs lately? Must be the anticipation of summer. And I’m influenced by them, dammit!!

First Brian Lam wrote about the limited edition Haagen Dazs honey flavored vanilla ice cream, which is somehow supposed to help fund bee research. Interesting theories are abounding lately that we should save animals from extinction by eating them. Well, I’m all for honey bees so I’ll take that ice cream thank you.

squareicecream

On the topic of ice cream, and via boing boing gadget, new styled ice cream scoops that produce dripless and perfectly square ice creams that sit perfectly on cones. Very neat.