After deliberating more than a year to make the purchase, the box sat on my floor unopened for another two weeks.
Finally, I started to research ice cream and how to make it.
One of my early newspaper jobs was typing recipes for the weekly food section. This taught me that all versions of any particular recipe have certain ingredients in common.
Cooks may disagree on the proportions and finishing touches, such as herbs, adding nuts or some other flourish.
One of the first thing I noticed about ice-cream and how-to-make-it tips: ingredient proportions vastly vary.
The best explanation of the necessary ingredients is Stephanie Jaworkski’s for custard-base ice cream, preferred by many cooks.
From Jaworksi I learned the contribution of each main ingredient:
- Cream gives the ice cream its rich taste. Too much, however, can create butterfat lumps.
- Sugar makes the mixture smooth but can prevent freezing when there’s too much.
- Egg yolks add smoothness.
- Flavoring also is a personal choice.
I expect egg yolks also help the ice cream to thicken. Cheap ice cream brands substitute gelatin or cellulose for egg yolks.
My first venture was chocolate ice cream. The recipe used eight egg yolks for four cups of liquid. Three cups of half-and-half was recommended plus a cup of heavy cream.
I like high butterfat content, so I made that two to two cups of each.
I reduced nine ounces of sugar to eight, because some readers found the recipe too sweet. I kept the cocoa at a half-cup.
Important steps in preparing a custard-based ice cream are
(a) heating the mixture until it just barely bubbles, between 160-180 degrees.
(b) Allowing the mixture to cool on the counter so that no liquid forms on the lid in the refrigerator.
(c) Refrigerating at least eight hours before churning so the flavors can blend.
This chocolate ice cream recipe was too thick and stopped churning after only 20 of 40 desired minutes.
It was good, but a tad too creamy even for me and very rich.
Eight egg yolks also left with me all those egg whites to use and makes this an expensive ice-cream recipe.
My next outing was purely my own devising: Two cups half-and-half to one cup heavy cream, three egg yolks (1 yolk per cup of liquid, cutting the chocolate recipe’s ratio in half), and less than a half-cup of sugar.
I followed the same procedure for cooling the mixture and marrying the flavors overnight in the frig. The vanilla extract is not added until the mixture is put into the churn. I used one overflowing teaspoon.
It churned beautifully for the full 40 minutes, froze smoothly, and tastes like the best vanilla custard ever. So far, I am using all organic ingredients. The one exception was the cocoa, but it was a good brand.
I have half the custard on standby, and I’m going to experiment with a flavor completely of my own.
I love the Cuisnart ICE-50 ice cream maker. It is easy to use, and anyone can become an ice cream chef overnight.