Cool off with refreshing, green tea-flavored scoops from Kelly Chu of Cirsea Ice Cream and Red Orchids China Bistro in West Ashley
(Makes 4 servings)
2 cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup raw sugar
1 Tbs. or more to taste matcha powder (Biofinest brand preferred; available online via Amazon)
2 tsp. cornstarch
Before making ice cream, freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker for at least one day.
Pour the whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and matcha powder into a medium, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is almost boiling; at this point, add the cornstarch. Stir vigorously until well mixed and the mixture thickens; don’t let it boil. Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool completely. If you’re not making ice cream immediately, you can transfer the mixture to a container, seal it, and store it in the fridge for up to three hours.
When ready to make, pour the gelato mixture into the chilled ice cream maker bowl. Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions, usually for about 50 minutes to one hour.
If you prefer a softer textured frozen dessert, serve it immediately after churning. For harder-packed gelato, cover and transfer the bowl to the freezer for three hours before serving plain or topped with crushed pistachios or matcha powder. Sealed tightly, it will keep for three months in the freezer.
■ Matcha 101: Seen in trendy lattes of late, matcha is made of finely powdered green tea leaves. Unsweetened, the caffeinated ingredient tastes bitter and spinach-like, but it brings a lovely, earthy flavor to sugary treats.
■ Add crunch: “This gelato is so simple and beautiful served plain, but if you’d like to add a topping, I would suggest crushed pistachios,” says Chu.
■ Frosty is best: There’s nothing worse than gelato that doesn’t freeze. To guarantee you’re creating scoops and not soup, your ice cream maker bowl has to be ice-cold—achieve this by freezing it at least one day prior, Chu advises.
■ Worth the wait: Gelato gets its uniquely creamy, dense consistency from being churned at a much slower speed than ice cream. The latter takes about 30 minutes to make and incorporates significantly more air.
Meet the Chef: Kelly Chu (pictured inset above)
For restaurant owner and ice cream queen Kelly Chu, blending worldly flavors is second nature. She grew up in Singapore and Brazil, then met her future husband, Tony, while attending University of Maryland, where they shared a love for both Chinese and American cuisine. In 1995, the duo moved to Charleston with plans to start a restaurant, opening Red Orchids China Bistro in West Ashley in 2002. Eight years later, Chu started crafting ice cream in Red Orchids’ kitchen as a fun treat for diners, swirling the batches with matcha powder or dark chocolate. Her treats quickly gained popularity, and in 2015, she launched Cirsea ice cream company. Chu’s offerings expanded to include gelato and sorbetto, which come in flavors like black sesame and coconut-pineapple (the latter of which ranked among 35 finalists in the James Beard House’s 2017 Gelato World Tour). You can sample the scoops at Betty’s Eatery—the Chus’ newest restaurant—in ice cream creations like banana pudding milk shakes and s’mores sundaes topped with marshmallows.