Have we reached peak summer yet? Living inside of a proverbial oven, it’s hard to tell where summer ends and all other seasons begin. Temperatures have hit record highs starting in May, carelessly bulldozing right over spring, with no sign of stopping for fall. Most of the US experiences the hottest day of the year in July, but I have a feeling we’ll still be sweating it out for months to come. Want my advice? Dip into a creamy frozen treat to fight fire with ice.
I’m still not done churning after two ice cream cookbooks and scores of bonus recipes. Before you think I’ve run out of ideas and gone back to bland basics, take a closer look. Those aren’t just flecks of vanilla beans you see right below the surface, but tiny particles of finely ground shiitake powder as well.
Mushroom Ice Cream?!
Though typically touted for their uniquely meaty flavor that enhances savory entrees and snacks, there’s so much more shiitake mushrooms are capable of. Using Sugimoto shiitake powder eliminates the more earthy flavors and textures that turn some people off, leaving only pure, natural umami essence at your disposal. When used with a deft hand, it serves to amplify the existing flavors already at play, just like salt or sugar.
Instead of drowning out the delicate floral, buttery, inherent richness of whole vanilla beans, a pinch of shiitake powder brings them to the fore, brighter and bolder than ever. Suddenly, more nuanced notes of marshmallow, whipped cream, light caramel, pound cake, buttercream frosting, and custard can emerge, uplifted by the strength of free glutamate.
Ideas and Adaptations
Like any good vanilla ice cream, you can enjoy every last lick as is, or use it as your jumping-off point for bolder taste sensations. Classic mix-ins include but are not limited to:
- Cookie dough
- Toasted or candied nuts
- Chocolate chips, cacao nibs, or fudge sauce
- Fruit preserves, jam, or pie filling
Change the whole character of your scoops by adding to the base instead:
- Cocoa powder
- Peanut butter
- Peppermint extract
- Lemon or orange zest
- Fresh ginger
Plus, there’s no limit to the possibilities for dressing it up in:
- Baked Alaska
Umami Flavor Hack
Don’t have time, energy, or equipment to start from scratch? You’re still invited to this ice cream social! Take any store-bought pint and sprinkle a tiny pinch of shiitake powder on top. A little bit goes a long way; you’ll instantly taste the difference.
I’m not making this up! It’s been proven time and again that everything, including desserts, can benefit from the addition of guanylate, the compound responsible for creating umami taste. The drying and rehydrating process of shiitake produces guanylate, so you get a pure, potent source that doesn’t disrupt the overall flavor, preserving the subtle nuances of the vanilla bean.
Don’t just take my word for it. This is an edible experiment that anyone can try with no risks, only sweet rewards.