There are so many things that were different to our Cuban sensibilities when we first arrived in the U.S. Mostly in the foods we ate.
The bread was different. The meat was different. When someone said 'hamburgers,' we thought, 'frita.' It wasn't the same.
"No es igual." "It's not the same." We seemed to say it a lot. Did everything taste different in Cuba? Or were our memories playing tricks?
One particular thing that brings back the memory of the difference in our tastes is Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream.
First, because we could not accurately describe it.
"It's like vanilla. But not."
"The color is richer."
"Maybe it's like French Vanilla?"
The color was right. But the taste of French Vanilla Ice Cream, while better than plain vanilla, was still not quite mantecado. We couldn't describe it. But we would totally know when we did.
It was one of those taste memories that you remembered perfectly. "I'll know when I taste it."
I scoured the internet. I got email inquiries. "Do you have a recipe for Mantecado Ice Cream?"
I tried and failed to make something close to the beloved Mantecado. I poured through my Cuban cookbooks always coming up a little short.
It was finally my friend, Ana Sofia Pelaez, author of the beautiful The Cuban Table Cookbook, who shared a brilliant recipe that she got from Suzy Batlle, the owner of ¡Azucar! Ice Cream Company in Little Havana.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Authentic Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream of My Memory. It's the rich, custard base that makes all the difference. *slaps forehead*
I should have known! The custard! Cinnamon and Nutmeg! But just a pinch. Barely a hint.
It tastes like all the best parts of my childhood with a rich appeal to the foodie in me. "Es igual." "It's the same."
July 19th is National Ice Cream Day. I think you should celebrate with some Authentic Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream and make some sweet memories, don't you?
Please watch my video and you'll get the idea. (Full recipe below)
Authentic Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream Recipe
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- One 12-ounce can evaporated milk, chilled
- To prepare the custard, combine the egg yolks, whole milk, 1 cup sugar, four, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a a food processor or blender and pulse until well blended.
- Pass the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a 3 or 4 quart saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard covers the back of a wooden spoon. 4 to 6 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Chill the custard at least 2 hours or overnight.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
- Gradually add the remaining 5 tablespoons sugar and beat on medium speed until it forms stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chilled evaporated milk and continue to beat until it thickens slightly, 2 or 3 additional minutes.
- Stir in the prepared custard and mix until well blended.
- Process in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Freeze until ready to serve.
It's totally 'igual.' But that's not important right now.