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Dulce de Lentil Ice Cream with Lentil Praline

It's that time of year again folks! It's time for this year's Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge and I am ready to try my hand at reinventing the lentil again with three interesting new recipes, but first up:

Last year, my "Cauliflower Wings Three Ways" took the grand prize. This year I have put even more pressure on myself to top that feat with something new and fresh, but, most importantly, something delicious that doesn't try to hide the lentil flavour.

So, all that said, my first recipe is this ice cream. It started with the lentil praline, which is delicious on it's own and a great nut free praline option for people who have allergies. I had to eventually hide the canister of praline or it was going to disappear before I even had a chance to do anything with it because it's just that addictive. It's nutty and sweet but the taste of the roasted lentil still shines through.

Originally, I was going to just do a lentil praline ice cream but couldn't get the idea of a lentil caramel cream out of my mind so, after much experimenting, I finally came up with this Dulce De Lentil.

I know, I know, there are a lot of steps to this ice cream but you don't have to make it all in one day. You can make the praline up to a week ahead (probably longer but it never lasted long enough for me to be able to say for sure) and you can do the lentil caramel sauce ahead as well. I made the dulce de leche with the canned condensed milk one day and then did the sweet lentil puree the next and held the final dulce de lentil in the fridge for a couple of days until it was ice cream time.

I chose to make my favourite condensed milk/whipped cream ice cream base because not everyone has an ice cream maker but everyone has a freezer and (sorry Kitchen Aid Ice Cream attachment) I really am partial to this method. It produces a creamy, smooth ice cream and I really so love the flavour of the condensed milk.

I am absolutely in love with this stuff and, more importantly, I love the fact everyone who has tasted it has been positive that they weren't going to like it, but, after the first bite every bowl was licked clean.

You cannot imagine the side eyes I have had to endure when I've said

"here, taste my ice cream - it has lentil praline and a lentil caramel swirl"

First, they look at me like I have lost my mind  as they take a wary taste.
Then, a slight look of shock comes across their face and they take another, larger taste.
Finally, they smile - some people even snort out a disbelieving guffaw right before they walk away with the bowl in case I was planning to take it away from them.

We can't ask for more than that.

Dulce de Lentil Ice Cream with Lentil Praline

based on my Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream

Red Lentil Praline

1 cup dried red lentils
1 tbls melted butter
1 tbls flavourless vegetable oil
1 pinch maldon salt

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Wash, drain and then soak the dried lentils in a bowl of water for an hour. Discard anything that floats to the top and then drain into a fine strainer, shaking all of the water off. Spread the lentils out over a clean tea towel or paper towel and cover with another to absorb as much water as possible.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Put the lentils in a bowl and toss with the melted butter, oil and salt. Spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time to ensure even roasting. Keep an eye on them after 10 minutes to make sure they don't burn. Some of them will get quite dark, and that is okay because it's adds some colour and even deeper flavour but just don't let them actually burn.

Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the syrup.

Put the sugar and water in a sauce pan over med high heat and bring to a boil without stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit but DON'T STIR IT. Let it bubble and boil away until the water evaporates the sugar syrup starts to turn golden.  At that point turn off the heat, scrape the roasted lentils into the pot, put it back on the burner and stir with a spatula until the lentils are completely coated and then turn it out onto a parchment lined baking tray and let it cool completely.

Break the praline up into small chunks and set aside.

Clockwise: lentil praline, dulce de leche straight out of the can, ice cream ready for the freezer and sweet lentil puree

Dulce de Lentil

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup red lentils
3/4 cup + water
1 tbls and 1 tsp sugar
approx 2 tbls finely grated apple

Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Put a deep pot of water on the stove, put a clean washcloth or tea towel on the bottom on the pot, lay the unopened can of condensed milk into the pot, making sure that it is completely submerged in the water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and maintain a light simmer for three hours, keeping an eye on it and making sure the water level remains high enough to cover the can completely. I won't scare you with stories of exploding cans if you let the water get too low and part of the can pops out the top...... just make sure the can is completely submerged the entire time and you are fine.

After the three hours, turn off the heat and leave the can in the water to cool completely. Once it's cool, remove the can from the pot of water, open it up and scrape out the thick, rich, delicious caramel. You will have lots left over and you can use it on anything. You can make it a day or two ahead of time as well, just let it sit out and bring it back to room temp before you mix it in with the lentil puree. If you are not using right away, you can just pop the unopened can into the fridge until you need it.

Give the lentils a quick rinse and then put them in a small, non stick pot with 3/4 cup water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer lightly for 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it and adding water, 1 tbls at a time as needed if it looks like it's drying out. You want to keep it so that it looks like a thin porridge with just a bit of liquid. At the ten minute mark, grate in the apple (I used about 1/4 of an apple to get the pulp) using a very fine grater so that its almost pulpy and keep cooking, adding the water, 1 tbls at a time for another ten minutes keeping an eye on it. For the last five minutes you will have to keep stirring almost continuously with a wooden spoon and stop adding water. At this point, it wills start to resemble a thick, porridgy paste - the sugar in the lentils will start to caramelize a bit so just keep stirring and stirring and don't let it burn.

You will have cooked the lentils for a total of 20 minutes. Take the lentils off the heat and let them cool down a bit and then you must puree them. I have a mini food processor which is perfect but you could use an immersion blender or a magic bullet - whatever will let you puree a small amount of lentil paste.

When the lentils are as smooth as you think you can get them, add in 1/2 cup of your dulce de leche and continue to puree until it's completely smooth and silky and then set aside.

Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (500ml) whipping cream
*3 tbls melted browned butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
heaping 3/4 cup of  lentil praline
dulce de lentil

*melt 3 tbls of salted butter in a small pan and swish it around until it foams up and the butter turns a nutty brown. Remove from the heat, scrape into a small bowl and bring to room temperature.

Whip the whipping cream until stiff. Meanwhile, stir the melted butter, cinnamon, vanilla and praline into the condensed milk. Now, fold the condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream then drizzle in the dulce de leche and very gently fold that in as well.

Pour into a 1 litre freezer container and freeze for at least six hours.
To serve, sprinkle with a bit more praline.

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