Thursday, July 29, 2010

We All Scream

With summer in full force, many of us are turning to our icy weakness-ice cream. My husband is particularly fond of vanilla bean ice cream, so I buy it quite often and serve it with caramel sauce and nectarines that have been dipped in cinnamon and sugar and fried in butter (I know-a healthy dessert). Last year, I decided to make homemade ice cream. When I asked my husband which flavor he would like, he immediately responded "Strawberry". What? I thought for sure he would have asked for vanilla. So I made about five quarts of strawberry. It was amazing. I mean really amazing. Really, really amazing. I can't believe how much it tastes like strawberries. I had purchased a flat of them from one of those corner-of-the-street vendors and used them the next day. It is a bit tedious making strawberry ice cream, because you have to hull, clean, puree and strain away all the seeds before you even make your ice cream base, but it was well worth it. We ate that ice cream for about three months and enjoyed every minute of it. I actually just found a quart of it down in the bottom of my chest freezer and we enjoyed it for Max's birthday. And, a year later, it was still amazing.
 This year, I had determined to make vanilla. And I did. It is AWESOME. It is very rich, so you don't have to eat as much, which, I am sure, makes it good for you. AWESOME and HEALTHY. Just kidding, I wouldn't classify it as healthy. But, it is so good, you should decide right now, you are going to do it. First, whenever you drop the homemade ice cream bomb, people automatically label you as a domestic goddess. Second, it is NOT very difficult, and if you have ever made custard, it is a snap to make ice cream. Which, a little side note here, I would definitely recommend the egg version, as frozen custard is so much richer and creamier than the egg less version (and rich is what we are going for, right?)
Third, when you pull out a tub of your own homemade ice cream to give your children, husband, parents, and guests, you feel a sense of pride in offering something very fresh, containing nothing artificial or un-pronounceable.
And while I am sure I could give you four through ten, I will leave it at that.
Use the vanilla base, and with a few minor alterations, you can add chocolate and coffee to your ice cream repertoire. I would recommend buying a big container of heavy cream from Costco. Make two batches of vanilla, one coffee and one chocolate, and all your dreams will come true.
Well, all my dreams came true.

Ice cream (3 ways)

Makes about 1 1/2 pints
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 vanilla beans (split lengthwise)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs

Combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a knife into cream mixture, then drop in pods. Heat cream mixture just to a boil.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture one ladle at a time. Once you have added two or three ladles, pour mixture into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). ( I never use a thermometer)

Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours, up to 24.
Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers directions. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer.

So, vanilla-you can use three vanilla beans for each recipe, or half vanilla beans and half vanilla extract. Vanilla beans can be obtained very inexpensively on the Internet here, or a few more here, or here. You can also hop in your car and go here, where they can be purchased for 2.99 for two. This is significantly less than your grocery store, where one can run you twelve to fifteen dollars.
I make a double batch, use three vanilla beans, and about a tablespoon and a half of vanilla extract.
For coffee flavored ice cream, use a tablespoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of espresso powder. Add the espresso powder after the cream is hot. This is the brand I use.
For chocolate, add two tablespoons, cocoa powder, one tablespoon of vanilla, and 1/4 c. semi-sweet chips or pieces. Add the chips or pieces after you return the cream to the stove.

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