Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Scream, You Scream...Shut Up! There's Homemade Ice Cream.

I'm not entirely sure if I was a good girl this year, but Santa saw fit to bestow upon me the gift of my dreams (well, one of the gifts of my dreams): my very own ice cream maker. I've been going on and on about how I'd love to make my own ice cream, come up with crazy flavors, and save a couple of pennies on ice cream that's high quality. Finally, a shiny new Cuisinart ICE-21 was dropped into my hot little hands. I used a slightly modified version of Alton Brown's Serious Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from early on in the Good Eats canon. Let's freeze some moo juice...shall we?

I started with 2 cups of half and half and 1 cup of heavy cream. When those are the first two ingredients in a recipe, you know it's gotta be good. Combine both of these in a heavy saucepan and pay no attention to the dirty stove, okay?

At Brooklyn Brainery's Hot Drinks class I was gifted with a Tahitian vanilla bean, and I saved it just for this recipe. The Tahitian strain is known for having a flowery scent and flavor best used in ice creams and dishes that don't require too much heat. I split it down the middle and scraped out the seeds or "caviar". The smell was incredible, above and beyond the scent of mere vanilla extract. Anyone who thinks vanilla is boring, has not smelled fresh, true vanilla.

Throw the vanilla pod and seeds into the in cream and half half, and whisk to disperse.

Now, before Alton adds the 1 cup of sugar to the milks, he subtracts 2 tablespoons of the sugar and substitutes it for 2 tablespoons of peach preserves. I'm guessing he did this to add another layer of flavor, and I'm sure there's a science reason too. But...I didn't have peach preserves. And I just wanted plain vanilla ice cream. So I put in a little less than 1 cup of sugar, because I didn't want the result to be too sweet.

 Are you wondering why you don't see any yolks? This is what's known as a Philadelphia style ice cream, meaning that it contains no eggs! Ice creams with egg bases (custard or French style) are really rich and velvety, but you gotta temper the mixture so it doesn't curdle and all that mess...and I wasn't in the mood for that. I was tired from Christmas cooking on Saturday and I had gotten up really Sunday morning to make this ice cream. Next time, I won't ignore the yolk.

I let this come to a bare simmer on medium heat, and as soon as I saw one bubble pop, I took it off. If you have a candy/fry thermometer, you want to look for 170 degrees. I believe if you let the mixture boil, you break the vanilla flavor and greatly affect the fats in the milk...I don't remember exactly what AB said...but it sounds correct. Someone correct me!

After I let it cool slightly off of the heat, I poured the sweet smelling elixir into a Tupperware container that had a tight fitting lid. The vanilla bean had given its all, so I took it out of the mixture.

Now, don't be an idiot like me and throw it away. If you rinse it with cool water, and pat it dry, you can put it in your sugar jar. In a couple days to a week you'll have fresh vanilla sugar.

I could have started churning the ice cream right away, which definitely an option because:

1. I am impatient
2. I already put the ice cream maker's bowl in the freezer 2 days ago, so I would be ready to go.

But, the trick to great ice cream is letting the cooked mixture chill and age in the fridge.This way the flavors you've created via heat can mellow and develop. Plus, the colder the mixture is, the smaller the ice crystals are in the final product aka creamy, even textured ice cream. Really, this should have sat overnight....but I gave myself 6 hours. Close enough.

*Six Hours Later*

Here it is. My precious little ice cream churning machine!

If you have a different make and model, go read the instructions. For mine, I just had to put the frozen ice cream bowl on the base, insert the paddle attachment, and lock the lid. Please make sure the machine is ON when you pour in your liquid or else it'll just freeze to the walls of the bowl. The dasher won't move and you will be screwed.

Here's the mixture at the start of the cycle....

This is about 10-15 minutes in.....

And here it is at about 20-25 minutes. Oh sweet tap dancing Jesus.

I would show you pictures of the paddle attachment when I took it out...but I licked it clean. I enjoyed every second of it, thank you very much. I scraped the ice cream back into the Tupperware (which I had rinsed clean) so I could stick it in the freezer to harden for an hour.

I would like to go on record right now and say there is absolutely nothing like homemade ice cream. NOTHING. The flavor after only 6 hours of aging was phenomenal, and I will let it rest for even longer next time. The vanilla flavor was just prismatic on my tongue as I ate it, blossoming with the heat of my mouth. By using no eggs in the base, the ice cream was light and refreshing while still maintaining the familiar creamy texture. I usually never eat plain vanilla ice cream, and that's about to change.

So is the the size of my rear end.

*Note: Fats can pick up funky flavors in the the freezer, so lay a piece of parchment/plastic wrap over your ice cream before you put on the lid to ensure it'll stay fresh.