Loading…
Friday, July 25, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeA&EFood
Published: Tuesday, 8/16/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Making ice cream at home has come a long way

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
From top to bottom, Serious Vanilla Ice Cream, Salty Caramel Ice Cream, and Superb Italian Chocolate Ice Cream make a heavenly homemade treat. From top to bottom, Serious Vanilla Ice Cream, Salty Caramel Ice Cream, and Superb Italian Chocolate Ice Cream make a heavenly homemade treat.
BLADE PHO TO ILLUSTRATIO N/BLADE PHOTO BY JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge

Rightly, we celebrate those brilliant inventors who have made our lives better: Robert Fulton with his steamboat, Guglielmo Marconi with his radio, and Martin Cooper with his cell phone.

But one inventor goes little heralded, despite her glorious efforts to further the progress of mankind.

In 1843, an American woman named Nancy Johnson patented the first hand-cranked ice-cream maker. And the world has been a better place ever since.

Even less known are the anonymous geniuses -- let's call them saints -- who developed ways to motorize ice cream makers. Others have improved on those designs to create self-contained ice-cream freezer units that do not need ice or salt.

Back in the days of Miss Johnson, and for more than a century after that, making your own ice cream meant putting cream, sugar, and flavorings in one canister, setting it inside another, and filling the space in between with ice and salt, taking care not to spill salt into the cream. Then someone (it was often a child) had to turn the crank for 20 minutes or a half hour as the supercold ice chilled the sweet cream until it reached that delicious semi-solid state we know as ice cream.

Some people look back at those days with a fond, sepia-toned nostalgia. For them, the thought of fresh-churned ice cream out of a hand-cranked wooden bucket calls to mind the joys of summer in a simpler time.

Obviously, those people were never the ones doing the cranking. That work was hard. Sure, there was ice cream to be had at the end of it, but by then you were too worn out to enjoy it.

But now, with motorized ice cream makers, anyone can make his or her own ice cream at any time. It's easy, it's satisfying, and it's oh so delicious.

Best of all, if you have ever been married you probably received one as a gift and have stashed it, forgotten, in a closet.

My wife and I use ours with some regularity, churning out homemade ice cream as part of the dessert for nearly every dinner party. So it was almost second nature to whip up a few batches of silken, creamy goodness.

The easiest ice cream we made, Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, sounds and tastes more exotic than it is. But that isn't a surprise, because the recipe comes from Michel Richard, one of the foremost chefs in the country and (according to the biography on his book jacket) one of the first cooks inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who in American Food and Beverage. The biggest surprise about this dish is that it is so simple to make. It only requires four common ingredients -- milk, lemon, sugar, and cream cheese.

It is the cream cheese that is the secret, exponentially boosting the flavor quotient and the sophistication until you wind up with a dish that tastes like cheesecake, but is lighter and more frostily distinctive.

Cream cheese also is a secret in two recipes by Jeni Britton Bauer, the culinary magician known throughout Ohio as the owner of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. With several ice cream parlors in Columbus and pints of her products available on some local grocery store shelves, Ms. Bauer is spreading the gospel of unusually flavored, but superb, ice creams. Gorgonzola Dulce Ice Cream with Candied Walnuts, for one, or Celery Ice Cream with Candied Ginger and Rum-Plumped Golden Raisins.

We didn't make those. We stuck with a couple of the basics, including the Salty Caramel Ice Cream, a flavor so popular it accounts for 20 percent of her company's total sales. One taste and you'll know why. The secret is in making the caramel by using the dry-burn technique; it takes more attention than the more forgiving method that uses water, but the result is a richer caramel flavor. The other secret is to add vanilla extract, which plays marvelously off the caramel.

We also made her astonishingly refreshing Backyard Mint Ice Cream. Other mint ice creams are typically peppermint, but Ms. Bauer thought to create a different flavor with spearmint, the mint that grows in many backyards like a weed. It's also the mint you can buy at the store, so it is readily available. And the ice cream? It's clean, crisp, and fresh. Even people who usually don't like mint ice cream will love it.

Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker
in honeysuckle pink. Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker in honeysuckle pink.
ASSOCIATED PRESS/CUISINART Enlarge
Vanilla, of course, is the most popular ice cream flavor in America, in part because it is used in so many sundaes. Often, what you get at the store is just off-white in color, with no vanilla taste. But real vanilla ice cream is something special; it's rich, heady, and intriguing. It takes a vanilla bean, of course -- if you don't see the tiny black vanilla seeds, it's rarely worth eating -- and a little bit of time. The Food Network's Nerd In Residence, Alton Brown, suggests using a small amount of peach preserves in the place of some of the sugar. The idea sounds goofy, but it just might be the best vanilla ice cream you've ever eaten.

And finally, there is what coincidentally might be the best chocolate ice cream you've ever eaten. Bert Greene's Superb Italian Chocolate Ice Cream truly is superb; he published the recipe in 1979, and it has been a staple ever since. It is sinful and rich, everything that chocolate should be. It requires more work than the other recipes we tried, and certainly more ingredients, but the result is so worth it. This is the kind of ice cream to serve to the people you want to impress.

What makes it so rich? Well, the butter, for one. And the six egg yolks. Don't forget the condensed milk. The coffee can't hurt. And the rum and creme de cacao provide a deep undertone, a bass note to anchor all the other trills.

The alcohol does keep this chocolate ice cream from ever freezing quite as hard as other ice creams, but that doesn't matter. It's spectacular.

It's even worth cranking the handle yourself.

Contact Daniel Neman at dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.

RECIPES

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

Juice of 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)

2/3 cup sugar

8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch pieces

Place all the ingredients in a blender, hold the lid on tightly, and blend on high until very smooth, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. The total blending time is about 4 minutes. Pour the mixture into another container and cover it. Refrigerate the mix for several hours. Process in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Yield: 1 pint

Source: Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Treats, by Michel Richard with Peter Kaminsky

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened

 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1¼ cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stand ready with a heatproof spatula, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full ring of melted and browning liquid sugar around a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar in the center. With the spatula, stir and push the liquid parts into the center until all the sugar is melted and evenly amber in color. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about ¼ cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the hot sugar (be careful, it will pop and spit). Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Freeze in ice-cream machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment or waxed paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer

Backyard Mint Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1¼ cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

A large handful of fresh mint, leaves roughly torn into small pieces

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the mint. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Refrigerate to steep for 4 to 12 hours.

Strain out the mint and freeze in ice-cream machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment or waxed paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer

Serious Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup MINUS 2 tablespoon 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. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170° (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). 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 in ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the mixture has reached a soft-serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Food Network, by Alton Brown

Superb Italian Chocolate Ice Cream

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

6 egg yolks

4 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 cup strong black coffee

1½ cups sugar

1 cup light cream

¼ cup dark rum

¼ cup white creme de cacao

4 cups whipping cream

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely grated (a food processor works best)

½ teaspoon salt

Melt 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double broiler over hot water. Add the condensed milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring until all the butter has been absorbed.

Beat the yolks in a medium bowl until light and lemony colored. Gradually stir in the chocolate mixture; stir until smooth and creamy.

Heat the semisweet chocolate, coffee, sugar, and light cream in the top of a double boiler over hot water, stirring constantly, until chocolate and sugar melt. Stir in the rum and creme de cacao. Cool to room temperature.

Combine the two chocolate mixtures, the whipping cream, the finely grated unsweetened chocolate, and the salt. Freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This ice cream may take 1 hour to freeze.

Yield: 3½-4 quarts

Source: Bert Greene’s Kitchen Bouquets, by Bert Greene



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories