Tag Archives: ice cream maker

FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

It is definitely the time of year to make ice cream at home. It always tastes so much better than what you buy at the store, and these days it is easy to make.

When I was a child, in the hot summer we often sat out on the back porch with the ice cream churn,  a burlap sack of ice, and a big box of rock salt. My mother would set a tinned canister filled with a sweet cream mixture in the middle of the wooden churn bucket, and my father would pack it with ice and rock salt in layers so that the melting ice would stay as cold as possible. Then the kids took turns turning the crank so that the dasher inside the canister would scrape the cream as it froze against the side. The process seemed to take a long time, and no single kid could finish the whole effort. At the end, some grown-up – usually my father – would turn the crank until it wouldn’t turn any more. The dasher came out. The kids took turns licking it, and the ice cream was put back into the ice to firm up a bit before everyone got their own bowlful of the ambrosia.

Next in the evolution of the home ice cream maker was one with an electric motor. Ours never survived very long, because the motor would burn out when everyone forgot to watch it carefully.

Now, there are all sorts of choices and all sorts of prices. We have had our machine for many years, and it continues to work just fine. One advantage is that we can make ice cream whenever we want it. We don’t have to wait for summer. We stick the canister in the bottom of our freezer and forget about it until it is time to make a batch. Then we fill it up, put the dasher in, fasten down the cover, and turn on the motor. In about half an hour, we have ice cream that tastes better than anything one can buy. Our machine cost about $50 when we bought it.  It’s probably a little more expensive these days, but not much. You can buy versions with built-in freezers and elaborate adjustments. Those can easily run to well over $300. In my view, you have to eat a lot of ice cream to justify the expense, but someone must be buying those machines.

This recipe comes from our family cookbook. It is called French vanilla ice cream. I always thought “French” referred to some kind of fancy vanilla, but it turns out that “French” implies that the ice cream is made from custard. That makes me think that the proper name for the dish should be vanilla French ice cream. I don’t look for that change to occur.

Crème anglaise is probably the most common custard base used for ice cream. This recipe is actually based on a modified crème anglaise that uses whole eggs instead of egg yolks. But the same warning applies: don’t let the custard get too hot or the eggs will scramble. Even if you don’t do that, you should always strain the custard before you chill it overnight as invariably there will  be tiny little clumps of egg, and you want the finished ice cream to be as smooth as possible.

RECIPE

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

  1. In a bowl, using an electric beater, cream the eggs and sugar together until pale yellow and smooth
  2. Add milk and beat until completely combined
  3. Place the mixture in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened and coats the spoon. It should reach about 160°F. Do not boil or the eggs will scramble and you will have to start over. Remove from the heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cream and vanilla. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a storage container and refrigerate, covered, over night.
  5. Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and spin according to directions.
  6. Transfer the finished ice cream to a container and place in the freezer for an hour to temper. Serve.

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CHOCOLATE VELVET ICE CREAM

Our older daughter, Carol, loves to cook. During our recent visit to help her unpack, we thought that we would order a lot of take-out, but she insisted on cooking in the midst of unpacking, dealing with repairmen and installers, working as a full-time attorney, and serving as scheduler and chauffeur for many adolescent activities. Never mind her role as a health care activist.

Carol is a great all-around cook, but her specialty is desserts for which she always gets her kids to “help”. Mostly because of that, we usually gain at least five pounds on any visit to Los Angeles.

This time, she made some delicious outdoor meals (It is summer near the beach in Southern California, after all.) along with two outstanding desserts: a cherry/peach tart made from fruit she bought at the farmers market, and this chocolate velvet ice cream.

The original recipe for the ice cream was published in the August, 1997 issue of Gourmet magazine. It is now on the web at the Epicurious web site where it gets a four fork user rating, and 88% of correspondents say they would make it again. . It has enough chocolate for even the most serious chocoholic and is amazingly creamy and smooth. Chocolate ice cream is my grandson’s favorite dessert, so he was in heaven and enthusiastically helped with the preparation.

You will need an ice cream maker, but the handy little Cuisinart countertop model will work just fine.

The original recipe called for Dutch-process cocoa, which I was unable to find in my local grocery stores. The so-called “natural” cocoa is more common in the USA, although you can probably find the Dutch version if you look hard. You can also order it on the internet. According to Harold McGee in his classic On Food and Cooking, Revised, Scribner, New York, 2004, p. 705 “dutching” is the process of alkalinizing cocoa with potassium carbonate. That gives it a smoother taste, but it also means that in baking you may need to use baking powder because the cocoa won’t react with baking soda to give a rise. Since there is no baking here, it’s fine to substitute natural cocoa in this recipe although it may give a sharper, more bitter taste to the final product. In my view, that is not enough to worry about.

Also, you will notice that the recipe for the custard is basically a chocolate crème anglaise finished off with a ganache. How can you possibly go wrong with that combination? After you have chilled the custard you will see that it is quite dense. For that reason, it is important to beat it until it is lighter and more fluffy before you spin it in the ice cream maker. In the end, the ice cream is like eating a frozen chocolate pot de crème because that is basically what it is. This recipe makes about 1 quart of ice cream.

RECIPE

Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate nibs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened  cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks

Method

  1. Chop the chocolate or measure out the chocolate nibs and set aside.
  2. In a 4 quart heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa, cream and milk with a whisk. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks until smooth  in a bowl large enough to contain the milk and cream mixture.
  4. Whisking the eggs continuously, pour the hot milk and cream mixture very slowly into the beaten yolks. You may scramble the eggs if you add the hot mixture too quickly. If that happens, you will have to start over.
  5. Return the mixture to the saucepan, set over medium low heat, whisking constantly. Use a thermometer so that the temperature does not rise too quickly, especially toward the end of cooking. Otherwise, you will again get scrambled eggs and have to start over.
  6. When the mixture reaches 170° F (79 °C) , remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Continue whisking until the chocolate is completely melted.
  7. Strain the mixture into a clean bowl. Use a sieve, chinois, or tamis. Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.
  8. When you are ready to spin the ice cream, beat the custard with an electric mixer until thick and fluffy. Then transfer to the freezing vessel of the ice cream mixer and spin until the ice cream has reached the desired consistency, probably about 45 minutes.
  9. Ripen the ice cream by transferring it to an air-tight container and storing in the freezer until hard – at least 2 hours.

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