So for my very first post (not as Brandon’s editor and contributor) I decided to go with something near and dear to my heart- ice cream! I have always loved ice cream. I remember living right behind Robert’s Drive In and riding my bike over with my sister to get a hot fudge sunday. Or after playing a softball game in the summer, Coolies would give a free cone to the winning team. Or going to Ollie’s after Church on Sundays with my family for “lunch”. I could probably eat ice cream at every meal and be quite happy, but there is this thing called the food pyramid or whatever it is called now, so I will start adding fruit and nuts to my ice cream to make it “healthy”.
For our anniversary, Brandon got me a book called The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. It is filled with great pictures and many recipes for your standard ice cream flavors like vanilla and strawberry ice cream and some unpopular ones like green pea ice cream or goat cheese ice cream. It also has great tips on how to properly cook your custard or ice cream and special toppings or additions for your dessert.
So what is the difference between ice cream and custard? Both are made with milk or cream and sugar, but custard uses egg yolks that help to emulsify the ingredients, making the custard richer, creamier, and smoother. Since egg yolks are used, you to have to cook the egg yolks first to make sure the ice cream is safe to eat.
My first recipe I made was Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream with Fudge Ripple. Intense sounding? Yes, but delicious? Absolutely! And it hits a couple areas of that food pyramid with the cherries for fruit, ice cream as dairy, and nuts as meat/beans/nuts category. So healthy? Sure!
First, I made the candied cherries by using fresh cherries and taking their pit out. Now we have a lot of kitchen tools, but one thing we don’t have is a cherry pitter. (Hint hint family–Christmas is coming!) So I used a frosting tip to push through the cherry and remove the pit. Then I cooked the cherries down in a sugary syrup. Saving the leftover syrup made great kiddie cocktails while we waited for the ice cream to churn!
Second, I had to seep almonds in the cream and milk.
Third, I made the fudge ripple sauce. We used the leftover cherries and fudge ripple to make lunch- chocolate covered cherries!
Next was to cook the egg yolks and slowly incorporate them into the cream, milk, and sugar without curdling the eggs. You do this with a technique called tempering. Tempering is done here by slowly adding a few spoonfuls of the warm milk to the eggs and constantly whisking. Keep adding the milk until the eggs are lighter in color and warmed. Then add the egg mixture into the remaining milk, constantly stirring. This is where the eggs get cooked. The custard is cooked until the back of the spoon is nappe. Nappe is when you dip the spoon into the custard, run your finger over the spoon, and the liquid does not run into your finger mark.
A great tip, learned from Alton Brown, was to add no more than 3 tablespoons of a liquor to custard before freezing. The alcohol prevents the custard from becoming crystalized in the freezer, and adds just a hint of flavor. We used an almond liquor.
One great tip this book taught me was how to quickly cool the custard. In the past, I just put the custard into a bowl and refrigerated overnight. Lebovitz suggests putting the custard into a zip top bag and putting the bag in an ice bath for a few hours. This worked amazingly and the bag provided an easier way of dispensing the custard into the machine. All we had to do now was wait for the custard to churn!
To assemble, we added toasted almonds to the machine when there was only a few minutes left. Once we turned the machine off, we mixed in the cherries. Then we layered in a container the fudge ripple and almond-cherry ice cream. Ice cream machines make very soft ice cream. With all of the ingredients we added to our custard, we gave it an hour in the freezer to harden up some. Then it was time to serve!
This ice cream didn’t last long in our freezer and I am sure that I will be making it again, especially in the summer with fresh cherries!