A Match Made Through Science

To the average cook, flavor pairing is a critical art to understand and master, but in truth, it’s much more of a science than anything else. Matching up similar volatile molecules in various ingredients ensures a much greater likelihood of ending up with a dish that has all its elements both well-balanced and working together harmoniously. Taking this approach, there have been many dubious, unusual, and just bizarre pairings concocted (caramelized cauliflower and chocolate, anyone?) but most surprisingly, the flavors do always seem to work together.

Fascinated by this concept, I’ve been quietly watching this blog event, They Really Go Well Together (TRGWT), seeing what creative entries came in for such unique combinations. When the most recent theme of soy sauce and malt was announced, something about those two just struck me as perfect, and I completely understood that they belonged together. The bright saltiness of the soy sauce, the deep, woodsy notes of malt- This was one that I had to try for myself.

Believe it or not, I had actually made a soy caramel sauce many months ago for a base recipe that never fully worked out, so I already knew that that would make an appearance here. Instead of putting it on the side as a dipping sauce, keeping it separate from the “action,” if you will, I wanted to have it swirled throughout… And what better to swirl caramel through than ice cream?

So malted ice cream with soy caramel ripple it was! With just enough sweetness to counteract the high level of salt in the soy sauce, the caramel ripple adds bursts of bright flavor, livening up the smooth, musky malt ice cream. An odd couple, perhaps, but they really do create a harmonious symphony of flavor!

Maybe there is something to this whole “science” business after all?

Malted Ice Cream with Soy Caramel Ripple

1 Vanilla Bean
1 Cup Plain Soymilk, Divided
1 Cup Plain Soy Creamer
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Barley Malt Syrup
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum (Optional, but Recommended*)
Pinch Salt

Soy Caramel

1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

*The ice cream will work just fine without this, but it vastly improves the texture and therefore mouth feel of the finished product.

Slit your vanilla bean down the center and use the side of your knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds into a medium sauce pan, along with 3/4 cup of the soymilk, plus all of the soy creamer, coconut milk, malt syrup, and sugar. Place the pan over medium heat, and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

In a separate dish, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of soymilk with the cornstarch, making sure that all of the lumps are beaten out. Pour the slurry into the pan while whisking constantly, and continue to cook the mixture until bubbles begin to break on the surface and it feels significantly thickened. Remove from the heat, sprinkle in the xanthan gum and very quickly and vigorously whisk it in. If you don’t trust that you can move fast enough, incorporate it using a stick blender, because it absorbs liquid and forms lumps very rapidly. Finally, whisk in the salt, and plunge the pan into an ice bath to cool it down. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface, and let it chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

While the base chills, you can make the soy caramel. Simply combine both the brown sugar and soy sauce in a small sauce pan, place over medium heat, and cook the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside. (It may start to harden by the time you get back to it, but just reheat it gently and it should be fine)

Once the base has thoroughly chilled, churn it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After freezing, transfer it into an air-tight container, and swirl in the soy caramel using a wide spatula. Quickly move it into your freezer so that it can fully solidify.

Printable Recipe

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53 thoughts on “A Match Made Through Science

  1. That sounds really amazing, actually. Malt & soy definitely work well together and I think you found a delicious way to combine them!

  2. Great! (throws hands up in the air) Now I have to go eBay an ice cream maker! ;-) Amazing as always, m’dear!!

  3. Wow Hannah, I have to admit veganism has made me more adventerous when it comes to taste testing but I never thought of really bizarre cominations like pickle-cupcakes or soysauce-caramel ice cream! But knowing your creations are almost ALWAYS out of the ordinary spectactular, If I ever get an ice cream maker I might just have the courage to give this one a try! =o Thanks for the brilliant recipes! :D

  4. A few months ago I started looking around for an ice cream maker but my interest began to lessen, due to realisations that I have very little freezer space/money; this recipe has definitely sparked my interest again! It sounds fantastic! What models or brands would you recommend? I have a very limited budget and would only need one with a small capacity (small freezer you see). I’m desperate to attempt more rose-flavoured cooking and would really like to give rose ice cream or sorbet a try. I might even resort to hand-making it.

    Beautiful photo, as always.

  5. this sounds extremely interesting!! I’ve always been eager to play with xanthan gum and the flavors sound like they would work well together. Love the sweet and savory combo :)

  6. This TRGWT sounds so fun. The ice cream look so delicious, and if you say its good, it must be, as all of your recipes are pretty wonderful.

  7. It is posts like this one that truly demonstrate the adventurous and creative cook that you are! This sounds like it could work. Now…About those samples?

  8. Wow – that sounds amazing! And having just returned from LA where we ate at Scoops ice cream several times, I’m inspired for interested ice cream flavors. Unfortunately, we don’t have an ice cream maker but if we did, I’d be making this right away. I love sweet and salty together.

  9. really really interesting ! I would have never guessed there s soy sauce in there. Wonder what it taste like. Science really work I one tried chocolate and blue cheese. If I didn t know i put it I think I wouldn t know it was blue cheese :)

  10. Quite surprising with a sweet dish from this savory combination – I haven’t decided what to make yet with the soy sauce and malt for this round of TGRWT.

    I’m very curious of course about how it actually tasted? Did the combination work as you expected?

  11. I love seemingly odd food pairings. This ice cream sounds incredible – I will definitely be taking my ice cream maker off the shelf for this!

  12. This sounds like a genius ice cream recipe! Interesting flavor combinations are so fun, and I love sweet and salty mixtures. I used to put salted pretzels in peanut butter chocolate so delicious ice cream. I will definitely have to remember to try this recipe in the summer, as it’s about ten degrees out where I am right now.

  13. I would LOVE to try this! sweet and salty is one of my favorite combos!
    Too bad we here in Tennessee are having the coldest weather so far this winter! :c
    LOVE.

  14. That is so interesting. I saw this event at khymos too but couldn’t get my head wrapped around the malt-soy combo. Great job!

  15. I made this this morning, and after solidifying a bit more in the freezer while I was at work, it was ready to enjoy this evening. I’m so glad I found an ice cream maker on Craigslist! This is sooooo delicious!!!!! It is perfect! My husband is jealous that he can’t eat more than a taste, as he has a soy sensitivity. It was really easy to make, and it’s always fun using a real vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. I can’t say enough about how creamy and yummy this ice cream is.

  16. I made this today. The ice cream itself is absolutely amazing, it’s crazy how such great flavor can come from so few ingredients. I’m glad I sprung for the xantham gum, as I can definitely tell how much smoother and creamier it makes the ice cream. My only gripe is that the caramel swirls get a little hard in the ice cream, but the salty and sweet is absolutely divine!

  17. Interesting, Shoshana, that the caramel swirls got hard in your ice cream. My only gripe was that my swirls stayed a bit watery/liquidy. Still delicious!

    1. Hmmm, maybe I cooked the caramel too long…? I let everything freeze overnight, and some of the caramel swirls seemed to have softened up, while other areas were a bit hard and sticky. Either way…still delicious!!!

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