Snackcrafting: Add a bit of kick to your ice cream with garam masala

Snackcrafting: Add a bit of kick to your ice cream with garam masala
Credit: Martine Richards

It's hot outside. And I'm tryna figure out how to stay cool aside from spending my entire summer lounging on my sofa with the A/C blasting.

In hot climates, people tend to eat hot foods. Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Africa—they're no strangers to chili peppers in their delicious cuisines. And it makes sense. Eating chili peppers or drinking a hot tea or anything else that makes you sweat, well, makes you sweat. Which aids in cooling you down faster. Because that's how sweating works.


I understand this intellectually. The science is sound. Buuuut . . . I still think there's nothing better on a hot day than some kind of frozen dessert to sate my sweet tooth and chill my intestines a bit.

That said, I'm willing to compromise. Why not add a little spicy kick to ice cream? An Indian-inspired ice cream made with garam masala and ghee sounds like just what the weatherperson ordered.

I'm a total sucker for north Indian flavor profiles, and they're easy if you're lazy and use pre-mixed garam masala like me. Pick yourself up a bag from Punjab Groceries and Halal Meat in Abell. If you're an overachiever, you can grind your own from whole toasted spices, but make sure you really go to town with that mortar and pestle so you don't have unappetizing chunks in your ice cream. Depending on how hot your garam masala is, you may want to add a bit of extra chili powder, but it's good either way.

If you don't have ghee you can substitute it for an extra two tablespoons of heavy cream. But if you do have it, or are willing to pick some up, it adds a buttery flavor and mouthfeel that is delicious.

I don't really need to tell you how to enjoy ice cream, obviously. But there are some complementary flavors to serve this with if you're trying to get fancy and impress someone. (If you plan on eating this straight out of the container while standing in front of the open freezer in your underwear, you can ignore this.) Try topping with slivered almonds and chopped mango, or a few flakes of chopped dark chocolate.

Garam Masala Ice Cream
Adapted from Ice Cream Base from "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home"

ice cream maker
medium mixing bowl
large mixing bowl

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon garam masala
pinch or two Kashmiri chili powder to taste (optional)
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons ghee
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Start by whisking 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to get some slurry action going. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir the softened cream cheese with the salt, garam masala, and chili powder (if using) until fully combined. Again, set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the non-cornstarch-y milk, heavy cream, ghee, sugar, and corn syrup. Marvel at the floating fat globules, and think about how moisturized your lips are gonna be after you eat this ice cream.

Over medium-high heat, bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and then gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to medium-high heat and bring to a boil again. Cook for about 1 minute, until the mixture is slightly thickened (i.e. it sticks a bit to a spoon). Remove from heat.

During your boilin', prepare your ice bath. In a bowl that is slightly larger than your medium bowl containing the spiced cream cheese, add ice to fill about half of the bowl and then run cold water over it to cover.

Pour the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese and whisk to fully combine. Place your bowl of ice cream batter into the ice bath bowl and let sit until chilled, about 30 minutes. For best results, put the cooled batter into the refrigerator and chill further for 2 hours or up to 2 days.


Following the instructions with your particular ice cream maker, add the batter, and spin until frozen to a soft-serve stage, about 20-30 minutes.

If you have no patience, you can just eat it right now. Otherwise, pack it into a storage container, smooth out the top, and press a square of parchment paper on the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve, let it soften about 10 minutes outside of the freezer before scooping.

Snackcrafting is a blog series about culinary creativity with a dash of arts-and-crafts panache. Fill your pantry, fridge, and freezer with homemade goodies to eat and share.