Cubans are ice cream lovers. It’s a national obsession.
If you want a dessert that has the taste of Calle Ocho, the main drag of Little Havana in Miami, go to Azucar.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you a source for Cuban ice cream that you can order and puree at home and thicken. The founder is Suzy Battle. Suzy has the first Cuban ice cream store in Miami.
Suzy was crazy for ice cream in her own youth. She saw a need in the marketplace for something besides the medianoche sandwich and the café Cubano that is served in food joints all over Little Havana. Azucar is a runaway success. She even has the grandfathers who play dominos in the park requesting favorite flavors. She is so popular that she is opening two new stores next year.
Let’s discuss why the dessert is muy sabroso – deelish!
Suzy goes down to Homestead to get her ingredients. This means she knows her business. Homestead is prime agricultural area in South Florida where she gets fruits that are ripe and in season. Some of these fruits, like papaya, are so sweet that she does not have to add sugar to her recipes.
Suzy is constantly experimenting, working with flavors from the Cuban palate and the Cuban tradition. They are flavors straight from the island, from her past, and from her memory of comfort food.
These include her popular Abuela Maria made with guava paste and mantecado, a Cuban version of French vanilla. She even has a platanos maduros ice cream. Forget strawberry. Go for maduros, the super banana flavor.
Go to the Azucar website for the full menu of tropically inspired flavors. Order delivery. Then follow Essential Puree’s instructions for pureeing and thickening store-bought ice cream (see below).
For the Puree
To thicken any of these Cuban ice creams, remove the pint from the freezer and allow to soften in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes.
Put one cup per serving in a high speed blender, and blend for twenty to thirty seconds. Add a little milk or coconut milk to get the desired texture of puree.
Make sure that any and all ingredients are pureed smooth so that they are safe for the swallow.
Then add a scoop or a pump of xanthum gum thickener to make sure that the ice cream melts to pudding consistency. One scoop or one pump is enough to thicken 8 ounces of ice cream. Simply Thick is a gel, Thick & Easy Clear and ThickenUp Clear are powders. All are good brands and easily available.
Put the pureed ice cream into the refrigerator for a few minutes to allow the thickener to come to its full thickening potential.
If the ice cream has particles of cookie or guava paste, run it through a mesh sieve with a silicone spatula and remove all particles.
Thickening one cup is possibly enough for two servings, depending on how much ice cream you like to eat. If you store the ice cream in the freezer, please use glass storage bowls, the kind that come with lids, such as Pyrex or Anchor Hocking. The thickener will not stick to glass storage containers. Mark the dessert with a sticky note containing the date it was created and the use by date. One month is standard.