Sunday, February 15, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream

So maybe I've been a little too Gung Ho about this blog. The three people reading it may have noticed that I skipped last night because, if you've been paying attention, you'll notice I update every other day, except last night I didn't. My last entry was three days ago, and that one wasn't even particularly noteworthy. I pride myself on verbose, boring, painfully accurate entries, and in the last one I just bitched about Thin Mints. Anyway, the effort required to maintain my normally high standard of quality is taking its toll. This weekend, I felt burnt out. I couldn't think of what to write about, so I skipped.

But I was in the kitchen. Well, actually, first I was on the phone with my sister (writer, pie-crust maker):

"Saw the Thin Mints post. It was good."

"What do you mean? It was really short and I just complained about Thin Mints. I didn't even do a proper analysis of the dangers of partially hydrogenated fat."

"Yea, too bad about that. It was funny. All the others are too long."

"Are they boring?"

"The chicken ones are."

"Oh. Really? I find that topic fascinating." Quick side note, I found a neighbor around the block that keeps 8 chickens in his yard. I've been making detours when I take my son on wagon rides so that we can watch them. They're really weird animals. Seeing them alive, I am not quite sure I'm comfortable with the idea of eating them. Ok, focus...

"What are you going to do next?"

"I was thinking of making profiteroles."

"Why? That is totally off-topic."

"Huh? No, my blog is about buying and making non-processed, natural, local food. This is an attempt at making a challenging dessert that you'd normally buy. Besides I want to try it." About a year ago, I became obsessed with making profiteroles. I hunted all over town for a large, non-plasticy pastry bag and the right size tip. By the time I found it, I was so bored with the whole project that I forgot about them. Ok, back to the conversation.

"Are you going to make your own ice cream?"

"Uh.... definitely."

"How? Did you get an ice cream maker?"

"No, why would I need one? I was just going to stir it myself in a bowl of ice"

"Please, please tell me you're kidding"

Ok, here is where I have an interesting entry about how I attempted to make ice cream the old school way, with 2 bowls, some ice and a spoon. My sister convinced me that I was crazy to try it without some equipment. So I thought, well I'd better acquire more equipment to postpone the fictional profiterole project, and I went hunting for an ice cream maker.

As luck would have it, KitchenAid makes an attachment for their mixers. Sweet! I definitely had to have it.

I realize that this seems in contradiction with my attempts to be non-consumerist, buy local, etc. I do definitely try to keep my material purchases to a minimum. Except I have a little bit of an issue with kitchen equipment. There are certain completely useless things I'll never buy (e.g. a garlic press - I'm a purist, I mince it with the side of a knife), but an insulated ice cream bowl and paddle for my KitchenAid mixer was just too tempting.

And holy cow is homemade ice cream good. The first night I made vanilla (with a drop of brandy), and the second night I made chocolate.

I probably shouldn't plagiarize the recipe I used (from Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food), but here is a link to a similar recipe. Hers has about two more egg yolks, but is otherwise pretty much the same.

I was completely amazed, once I started processing it in the bowl, it only took about 15 minutes to thicken.

I will say that, given how much ice cream I eat, seeing how much sugar and cream go into it is a little depressing. All these years, I'd been using selective hearing to ignore the "cream" part of ice cream.

Anyway, it was delicious, although perhaps a bit heavy. My husband accidentally bought a bunch of table cream for the first batch, which wasn't called for in the recipe. I may try making some ice cream with that instead of the heavy whipping cream. I'm sure it'll turn out less creamy, but it might be a bit lighter.

A few final thoughts on making homemade ice cream. Apart from the equipment purchase, it is definitely worth the effort.

First, it really wasn't much work at all. I made the custard style, which means you slowly cook the egg yolks, sugar and half and half together. Of the two common varieties (the other is just cream, sugar and milk mixed together), this is the harder one, and it still only took about 20 minutes to make the mixture.

I took the first batch I made to a friend's for dinner. She decided to have a taste test and compare it to two local ice cream brands she had on hand. My ice cream was richer and much, much smoother. The egg yolks are what add the richness - flavor you definitely can't get from store-bought, although I don't think I will always be in the mood for something so rich, so I plan to try the other style as well.

The only downside is that I now have six egg whites waiting to be dealt with (3 per batch). Any suggestions?

2 Responses:

Nicole Marie said...

You're probably finding the homemade ice cream smoother because most ice creams, even your local brands like Boulder Ice Cream, use thickeners like guar gum and carrageenan. I think this is so they can cut down on the amount of cream needed, and improve the nutritional information on their labels. Haagen Dazs is the only company that I know of that uses the same ingredients as homemade; their ingredients for Vanilla are Cream, Skim Milk, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Natural Vanilla. But then Haagen Dazs will have sat longer, so it won't be quite as soft as homemade. There really is nothing as good as homemade ice cream, and that vanilla with a drop of brandy sounds fantastic.

Sadly, my ice cream days are over (my encyclopedic knowledge of ice cream might be one explanation of why!) about making some apple cider sorbet?

As for the egg whites...meringues!!

Emmy Lou said...
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