This week I made the best homemade ice cream that I have ever cooked. “Lime Gelato with Agave” is a cool, tart and soothing frozen ice cream. It is the perfect dessert for these hot summer days. Recently, I sampled a version of Lime Gelato at the Saturday Farmer’s Market on a trip to Aspen, Colorado. The lime flavor was intense and agave added an interesting sweetness. Although gelato frozen desserts are considered to be Italian in origin and really have no unique relationship to Colorado, the farmer’s market vendor was a family-owned Colorado purveyor, using local ingredients and recipes. After returning home from my Aspen trip, I decided to attempt to make my own Lime Gelato. And success!. It was delicious!
Family Vacation to Aspen
This year, we took a family vacation to Aspen, Colorado. It was my first time to visit the small community of Aspen. In the summertime, it is a wonderful place. Our trip was a refreshing change from the heat and high humidity climate of Louisiana. The crisp, cool air and breeze was relaxing — we even had to wear a sweater at night! The scenery in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado was fantastic. It is truly a photographer’s paradise. Just point your camera and shoot for some amazing scenery photos.
Here we took a one-mile hike to a lake at the base of Maroon Bells, twin mountain peaks which are very close to Aspen. And, yes, we did see a black bear — far in the distance. We also came too, too close to a flock of Canadian geese who were blocking the trail. After the geese squawked and stuck out their necks and beaks, we quickly backed away to a safe distance. No, we didn’t hike to the top of that tall mountain in the distance, only to the trees just past the end of a lake. Wait, or did we? Read the entire post. And a four-year-old child who was along decided to call it quits half way through the hike and instead focus on collecting rocks. Certainly made a hiking dilemma! Couldn’t leave her. The designated driver — Aunt Yine (her nickname)– stepped up and gave the child a ride home by carrying her on Aunt’s back. Vacation memories!
Back in Aspen, we can easily see how the town got its name. The Aspen trees, with their white bark and shiny leaves, are very impressive.
These Aspen trees are on the campus of the Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) where young, talented professional musicians come to study and tweak their orchestra skills during the summer months. The AMFS puts on concerts for the public several nights a week. The acoustics in the music hall were fantastic and these concerts are as good as any professional orchestra around the world. Not bragging, it is true! Make sure you include one of these concerts in your visit if you come to Aspen in July or August. Here is the bass section at a concert which included my daughter who was in the festival for the summer. (If she can carry this bass across campus, then she can pack a 40-pound 4-year-old child.)
On Saturday, we visited the Farmer’s Market in downtown Aspen. It was an arts and crafts event as well as a vegetable and produce farmer’s market. And it appears that I forgot to bring our dogs with us along to Aspen. It seems that everyone else had their dog(s), or even goats, and brought them to show off on Saturday morning. Small dogs, large dogs and sometimes two or three dogs. And they were all very well behaved pouches!
And I discovered that bringing your dogs everywhere is the norm in Aspen. Even the restaurants supplied the puppy customers with complimentary water beverages in shiny bowls. Here we ate at the restaurant, Home Team BBQ, which served the best St. Louis-Style Ribs that I can remember. The original restaurant is located in South Carolina and the Aspen location was added in the 2016. I can understand that restaurant expansion! These folks know how to smoke BBQ ribs! We enjoyed our meal while this well-mannered, exotic dog, Lucy, watched from the next table.
Gelato is reportedly of Italian origin and it is very similar to ice cream. One main difference is that gelato is lower in cream content and, hence, fat content. When churned, gelato is dense and smooth.
The Lime Gelato sold at the Aspen Farmer’s Market was made using Agave as the sweetener. Agave is derived from a succulent that is native to dry regions in Mexico. Agave is high in fructose and sweeter in taste compared to table sugar. Hence, you can use less agave in a recipe. However, the cost of agave was so, so high, that I’ll probably opt for just regular sugar next time!
Here are the ingredients for my Lime Gelato. The recipe includes five egg yolks! It is a cooked custard-type frozen dessert. Very rich. (Save the egg whites for another use.) My final recipe uses only four limes; I have enough for two batches!
My recipe uses both fresh lime juice and the zest of the limes. This is a tedious step, but definably makes a lime flavor to the gelato. Allow plenty of time to zest four limes!
The recipe is a cooked custard-type of dessert. My system of making this ice cream is to beat the egg yolks until well-blended, then incorporate in the agave syrup. I always use an electric mixer for this step, but you can certainly beat the egg yolks by hand, too.
Scald the milk (heat until just steaming with a few bubbles — do not boil). Next, slowly add some of the hot milk to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Stream in the rest of the milk and the lime zest. Return back to the pot and to the stove and, over low heat, cook the custard to thicken it. Don’t let it boil. When the custard coats the back of a metal spoon, it is thick enough. Add the half-and-half and freshly squeezed lime juice. Transfer to a non-metallic bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
Then process in an ice cream freezer. I use my trusty Cuisinart ice cream maker.
This gelato recipe overflowed the ice cream freezer. The freezer certainly did incorporate a lot of air into the lime gelato.
The gelato will be soft, let it harden up in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator before serving. That is, if you can wait.
“Lime Gelato with Agave” is a smooth, tart and refreshing frozen dessert. It tastes remarkably similar to the version which I sampled in Aspen. This recipe is delicious — one of the best ice creams that I have ever made. Hope you will enjoy this recipe. And what a trip our family had to Aspen! It certainly was eventful. So many stories and family memories of our adventures. Read to the end.
Lime Gelato with Agave
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 limes)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime zest (from 4 limes)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup agave syrup (or substitute 1 cup regular sugar)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups half-and-half cream
Method and Steps:
- Zest the limes to make 3 Tbsp lime zest. Then squeeze the limes to yield 1/2 cup fresh lime juice. Set aside.
- In medium bowl of electric mixer, beat egg yolks until creamy. Add agave syrup. Set aside.
- In medium, heavy saucepan, heat milk until just steaming. Do not boil. Remove from stove. Whisk a small amount of hot milk into beaten egg yolks, stirring constantly. Slowly, pour in remainder of milk, whisking constantly. Return all to the pan.
- Add lime zest.
- Return to stove and cook over low heat until mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
- Remove from stove and stir in lime juice and half-and-half.
- Transfer to non-metallic bowl. Cover and refrigerate several hours until chilled.
- Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- When ice cream maker slows down and mixture thickens, remove from ice cream cylinder and transfer to freezer-proof containers. Freeze in freezer compartment of refrigerator for two to four hours until the gelato is firm.
Here are some additional photos of our adventures in Aspen.
I captured a photo of these flowers on our hike to Maroon Bells twin mountains.
Here is a little mountain stream on the way to Aspen. (This was another afternoon adventure.)
Just above this stream, in the other direction, is a waterfall with several large and deep cold, cold pools of water called “The Devil’s Punch Bowl.” If you are brave enough, then jump off a high rock ledge into the water for a refreshing dip.
I preferred just to sit on a rock and work on my sunburn (forgot the suntan lotion). I truly enjoyed the relaxing sounds of the mountain stream and the nature-filled atmosphere. It was a beautiful, slightly warm and sunny summer day in Aspen!
Here we are on our hike to the base of Maroon Bells mountains. If you look closely, a black bear is in the exact center of this photo. It appears as a tiny, tiny black dot. Good thing that we were so far away; as he moved quickly. He appeared to be searching for some grub to eat. We were safely on the other side of the lake.
It felt like we were in Yellowstone National Park, only this was Colorado and we were in a National Forest. This was not a zoo!
At first, these Canadian geese looked like harmless birds. However, they let us know in no uncertain terms that we were too close by squawking, flapping their wings and raising their beaks toward us. Since these large birds migrate and fly thousands of miles in the fall and spring, I am guessing that they are quite strong. We backed off quickly.
This scenic photo also shows a small hitchhiker in the Rocky Mountains. Look closely.
And lastly, yes, you can hike to the top of that 14,000 foot Maroon Bells mountain in the far distance. You rock, Aunt Yine! And please, come off that rock. So, so glad I didn’t see this photo until after your descended from the mountain.
I’ll stick to Lime Gelato with Agave!