Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ice Cream 101

More with the fun summer treats I know, but I just can't seem to help myself.  I recently bought an ice cream maker because I wanted to have the delicious homemade treat that I used to enjoy as a child.  My Dad would sit on the back porch and make vanilla ice cream that was to die for.  I remember it taking hours though, so when I bought my Cuisinart Ice 30BC, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had a built in freezer and did the work in under an hour! I couldn't believe it.  This was going to be much easier than all the work my Dad put into it when I was a child.
In my search to find the best Ice Cream recipes, I came up with a pretty simple base.  I use a basic vanilla base or chocolate base for whatever kind of ice cream I am making.  From this base you can basically make any flavor you like.  My favorites so far are Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies and Cream, and Lavender.
I use a pretty straight forward recipe.  I like my ice cream thick as it can get and as fattening as it can get.  When you are making dessert I like to live by my own rule that it should NEVER be calorie friendly, and always include either real butter or cream.  With this rule in mind here is my Vanilla Base...

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream
1 Cups Half and Half
1 Cup Whole Milk
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 (14oz) can Eagle Brand sweet and condensed milk
2 T. Vanilla Extract

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until well mixed and put in an ice cream maker and freeze.

That is the easiest Vanilla ice cream recipe.  I also have another one if you are looking for a more gourmet ice cream.  It's a custard base and is going to be a little creamier and richer.  It's a bit more difficult, but delicious as well.  You just need to decide what you have time for and what you want.  Here is the custard base Ice Cream recipe....

Custard Base Vanilla Ice Cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 pint whole milk
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/2 C. sugar
1 Vanilla Pod or 2 T. Vanilla

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to a boiling point, but DO NOT LET BOIL.  Place the vanilla pod into the milk and let infuse for about 20 min. (if using the vanilla pod, if not skip this step.)
In a bowl beat the eggs until they are creamy and thick.  Carefully scrape out the Vanilla pod and any seeds in the mixture.  You are now going to temper your eggs.  Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of your hot milk into the eggs while constantly beating the eggs. (You do this so your eggs won't cook when you add them to your mixture.  You want them to stay liquid.)  After you temper your eggs, pour the egg mixture back into your milk.  Add the sugar and continue whisking until sugar is completely dissolved.
Put the mixture back into a pan and heat gently until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Do not let your mixture boil or it will curdle on you.
Once it coats the back of a spoon it is ready to transfer into you Ice Cream maker.  Follow the manufacturers instructions.

Now that you have your basic base you can make any flavor your heart can imagine.  So here are a few of my favorites that I have come up with.

Mint Chocolate Chip
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I use Dove Chocolate shavings instead of chips)
In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. (If you want your ice cream to be green, add a few drops of food coloring now).

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. 

Lavender Ice Cream 
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons dried edible lavender flowers
2 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt

Bring cream, half-and-half, honey, and lavender just to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, then remove pan from heat. Let steep, covered, 30 minutes. 

Pour cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Return mixture to cleaned saucepan and heat over moderate heat until hot. 

Whisk together eggs and salt in a large bowl, then add 1 cup hot cream mixture (temper the eggs) in a slow steady stream, whisking (about 1/2 C. of hot mixture). Pour into remaining hot cream mixture in saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat back of spoon.  Freeze in your Ice Cream Maker.

There are a few of my favorites.  Once you start making your own, make sure to let me know because I'm always on the hunt for new and delicious flavors!  Enjoy your summer!

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