This Purple Mont Blanc Ice Cream Is Our Favorite Holiday Treat

The Okinawan Mont Blanc is a vanilla bean and mascarpone base swirled with purple sweet potato jam and buttery sablé cookies.

okinawan mont blanc ice cream recipe wanderlust creamery sweet potato vanilla
Purple sweet potato has a mildly earthy flavor that pairs well with vanilla bean. | Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery
Purple sweet potato has a mildly earthy flavor that pairs well with vanilla bean. | Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery

Although there’s no place like home for the holidays, Adrienne Borlongan of Wanderlust Ice Cream is still dreaming of far off wonders for her travel-inspired ice creams. Whether it’s a pomegranate rose jelly sufganiyot in Israel or a Christmas cookie-inspired ice cream made from French langue de chats, Scottish shortbread, Scandinavian rye gingerbread, and Dutch speculoos, Borlongan wants to create ice creams that capture the warmth of the holiday season from anywhere in the world.

For those who have yet to experience the pleasures of Borlongan’s Los Angeles-based scoop shops, Wanderlust provides customers the ability to jet set around the globe through ice cream inspired by travel: mango sticky rice in Thailand, Hawaiian butter mochi, a Provençal lavender honeycomb flavor, and Sri Lankan mangosteen sorbet are just some of the offerings that have appeared on the monthly rotating menu. The holidays are no different—Wanderlust’s menu in December is still inspired by worldly travels, but crafted through the lens of Christmas and Hanukkah customs.

Some of the ice creams she creates are an extension of Borlongan’s own holiday traditions—one specifically that started when she was seven years old: baking Christmas cookies from around the world. “My older brother got me a cookie cookbook and it’s 1,001 cookie recipes from around the world,” she explains. “Every December I would aim to make at least five recipes from the book.” This specific tradition translated to her Christmas Cookies and Sea Salt Cream flavor.

Another personal holiday memory that sticks out to Borlongan is a Christmas spent in Paris during her late teenage years. While sick in bed, potentially with swine flu, Borlongan’s travel partner—her sister—scoured the boulangeries of Paris on Christmas Eve seeking a baked feast for the pair. It was there Borlongan had her first mont blanc, piped tall with chestnut cream and dusted with powdered sugar like a true mountaintop. “I had no appetite, but I remember thinking that was the most amazing thing ever,” Borlongan says. “And I learned it was a Christmas or winter dessert.”

Several years later, her same travel partner returned from a vacation in Tokyo with sweet potato mont blanc-flavored Kit-Kats in tow—a Japanese riff on the traditional French pastry. Borlongan was hooked, and used these two experiences to mold her Okinawan Mont Blanc ice cream: a mascarpone vanilla bean base swirled with purple sweet potato jam and buttery sablé cookies. “It’s basically everything I love about mont blanc minus the chestnut, which I think tastes pretty similar [to sweet potato]—like a mild earthy flavor.”

Although the holidays look different to every family, Borlongan hopes her ice creams can embody the merriment of the season. “I do a lot of my traveling vicariously through other people,” she says. Common winter ingredients—like dried fruits, creamy butter, brown sugar, and aromatic spices—make appearances in Borlongan’s holiday ice cream lineup, which also includes a Slovakian coffee caramel buttercream flavor and a new take on Italian spumoni—all of which ships nationwide to spread holiday cheer.

“Everyone has their specific traditions so I try to find things that speak to not just one culture, but multiple cultures, and create familiarity for a broad audience.”

okinawan mont blanc ice cream recipe
The Okinawan mont blanc ice cream uses purple sweet potatoes and is inspired by a limited edition Kit-Kat. | Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery

Wanderlust’s Okinawan Mont Blanc Ice Cream Recipe

Almond Sable Crumble

  • ¼ pound butter, room temperature
  • 65 grams powdered sugar
  • 200 grams all purpose flour
  • 10 grams ground almonds
  • 16 grams cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Using paddle attachment on stand mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar until light & fluffy.

2. Whisk flour, ground almonds, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl.

3. Gradually add dry mixture to the creamed butter, mixing at slow speed. Scrape down the bowl to mix completely. Mix in vanilla.

4. With the mixer running on medium-high, gradually sprinkle in iced water—a few drops at a time just until dough comes together in a big mass.

5. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper into a slab ¼ inch thick. Place in the refrigerator to harden for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 325°F.

6. Bake dough on parchment lined cookie sheets for 8-12 minutes or until just barely golden in color. Cool completely, then crumble into small pieces.

Beni Imo Cream

  • 150 grams Okinawan sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 30 grams sugar
  • 10 grams butter
  • 20 milliliters whole milk
  • 40 milliliters heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)

1. Bring a stockpot of water to boil, and add purple potatoes. Boil until fork tender, then drain and place in a food processor.

2. Add sugar, butter, whole milk, heavy cream, and rum to the food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

Mascarpone Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 750 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split + beans scraped
  • 200 grams dry milk powder
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 95 grams glucose
  • 400 milliliters heavy cream
  • 190 grams mascarpone cheese
  • ⅓ teaspoon xanthan gum

1. In a medium stockpot, heat whole milk on medium heat and bring to 95F.

2. Add vanilla, milk powder, sugar, and glucose. Whisk to dissolve.

3. When mixture reaches 113°F, add heavy cream & mascarpone. Continue to whisk frequently.

4. Whisking constantly, continue to heat the ice cream base to 170°F. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Remove vanilla bean; rinse well with cool water and let dry to save for another use. (It may have a second life in a cup of tea or coffee, steeped in a bottle of booze, or living in a jar of sugar).

5. Once the ice cream base has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, process a small amount in a blender with ¼ teaspoon of xanthan gum until completely smooth. Add remaining ice cream base and blend once more. Season with salt and/or more sugar to taste. Note: Your base should taste about 10% stronger in flavor/ sweetness than you’d prefer, as the flavors will be muted once frozen.

6. Strain ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer and transfer to an airtight container & refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

7. Process the ice cream base through an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Ideally, the ice cream will be ready when the mixture has reached 20F or lower. In the last minute of churning, add the sable crumble into the ice cream.

8. Transfer ice cream to a chilled bowl, and fold in beni imo cream, mixing just enough to leave visible ribbons of purple paste throughout the ice cream. Transfer to a shallow container and freeze for 20 minutes to harden before serving. Serve ice cream within 6 hours of churning. Any ice cream kept past this time will grow ice crystals rapidly in a home freezer.

Note: Sweet purple yams of the Japanese variety can be found at Asian supermarkets and specialty produce stores. You can opt to use crumbled, store-bought shortbread cookies instead of making your own. Look for cookies made with only real butter, and 4 ingredients or less (butter, flour, sugar, salt) like Walkers Shortbread.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn