Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ice Cream

As many of you know, I'm on a bit of a home made ice cream kick this summer.

Late last year, after lusting after them for 20+ years, we finally got a Kitchen Aid mixer. I took advantage of my good fortune to get my wife the ice cream maker attachment for the Kitchen Aid for Christmas. For those of you that have experiences a Minnesota winter, you know how unlikely a gift an ice cream maker is for Christmas, but there you have it.

This summer, we finally got to get the bowl out of the deep freezer and give it a whirl.

Now I'm an ice cream fan, not a custard fan. After a rather unfortunate incident with a rotten egg when I was twelve, I have an aversion to eggy tasting things. Most recipes for home made ice cream are actually custards, using copious amounts of egg yolks in an effort to make the concoction more rich.

After much searching, I found an interesting ice cream recipe from Alton Brown, host of "Good Eats" on the Food Network.
Serious Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Churn Baby Churn
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons peach preserves (not jelly)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Attach a frying or candy thermometer to inside of pan. (see note below) Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the hull of the vanilla bean, pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit's instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the volume has increased by 1/2 to 3/4 times, and reached a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer before serving (takes about .

NOTE: If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble hit the surface, remove it from the heat. Do not let it boil.

The Kitchen Aid did a great job. Took about 20 minutes to churn. You know it is done when the churn paddle starts to slip in the mechanism (this is intentional). Transfer to a pre-chiled pyrex container (I prefer the neutral taste of pyrex to plastic), cover in plastic wrap and cover the container with its cover (remember, air and thermal cycles are the enemy of your ice cream), and freeze for ~8 hours until hard. Makes just under a quart of ice cream.

This turned out remarkably well for a first effort. The vanilla bean added a remarkable amount of flavor, especially after seeping in the mixture over night. Heating the dairy also did a LOT to really add some depth to the flavor and texture (taste the mixture before and after it goes into the fridge over night to see the difference). It was borderline too sweet, but otherwise outstanding. The only complaint from the kids was the occasional chunk of peach from the peach preserves that spoiled the party for them. I liked the (very) subtle peach flavor. The acid was necessary to balance out the flavors of the ice cream.

In our house, the preferred serving style is in a bowl, with some crumbled Oreo ice cream cones on top of it. Caramel sauce is also always in fashion.

For future variants, I plan on cutting back the sugar some (2-3 fewer tablespoons) and perhaps adding 3-4 tablespoons of malted milk powder (I'm a sucker for malt flavorings in ice cream). I'll extend this post as I try different variations of the vanilla ice cream, and have different posts for different flavors we're experimenting with.

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