Ice Cream You Scream We All Scream for Ice Cream

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man floating down Canal, it doesn’t use numbers or moving hands, it always just says now. Now you may be thinking that I was had, but this watch is never wrong.  And if I have trouble the warranty said, “Breathe in, breathe out, move on”.  Jimmy Buffet – Take the Weather with You.

Woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise – we’re having nutsy cuckoo weather here this week.  We broke a heat record last Tuesday and someone told me we were the hottest state in the country on Tuesday! It was 103°. Then the next day the temp dropped about 30 degrees! 

I love the summer so much, and I don’t know about you, but for me it always brings a strange mixture of joy and melancholy.  I don’t know if the melancholy is because I love summer so much and I know it’s going really fast; or if it’s because I’m older now and I have so many great summer memories!  Can’t go back, sometimes I wish I could. 

I was listening to Jimmy Buffet this morning – he’s really quite a wordsmith .  If you aren’t familiar with his music, I’m here to tell you he’s not all cheeseburgers and margaritas and let’s get drunk.  A lot of the lines from his songs pop into my head at appropriate (and often inappropriate) times.  Stuff like, “I’m down on the knees of my heart” and “My twain of thought is loosely bound, I guess it’s time to Mark this down” (get it? Mark Twain?) and of course his take on tattoos – “A permanent reminder of a temporary feeling” (and same song – “There’s no dumba** vaccine” – HAH – sure wish there was.   And of course, his songs remind me of bright blue oceans and salt water and palm trees!  I love to play them in winter to chase away the blues – but summer time calls for the windows rolled down ruining my car speakers ’cause I like to play it LOUD.

So I was listening to Mr. Buffet’s song Breathe in Breathe Out and realized that too often I’m thinking of the past or planning the future (You know what God does when we makes plans, don’t you? He laughts!) instead of enjoying the moment.  Now is what I’ve got and I want to make the most it.

The heat wave we had made me want to make ice cream – homemade ice cream is so wonderful!  We used to make it as a treat when I was a kid in a wooden hand crank machine (you know, with all the ice and salt).  Seemed like magic – actually still does.  I like to make the custard style (cooked base) as opposed to Philidelphia style, which has no eggs and does not use a cooked base.  I think the eggs give it spectacularly rich flavor.   Today I’m going to make three kinds of ice cream. – Butter Pecan, Mint with Chocolate, and of course, Vanilla.

Making ice cream is really easy – there are some tips and tricks I’ve learned that I’ll share as we go along.  Some recipes call for adding the sugar to the cream while it’s warming and some don’t; some recipes call for adding the eggs directly to the warmed cream without tempering, etc.  What I’m going to show you here is the way that works best for me.  We’ll start with vanilla and I’ll show the basic steps only for the vanilla ice cream, but these steps apply to each recipe.

These are the ingredients you’ll need for plain vanilla bean ice cream.  You can substitute vanilla paste or vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. Vanilla beans can cost a bloody fortune.  Here’s a hint – sometimes I can find them at Costco.  I think you get 5 in a tube, and they’re about $9.00.  You can reuse them, but that just gives me the willies. Last time I priced them at the large grocery store near us I found 1 bean for $7.99 – not going to happen.

First, put your cream and milk into a heavy medium size sauce pan (I know there’s stuff floating in the cream in this picture.  It’s because I forgot to take a picture of the cream before I put in the vanilla bean. You’ll see this picture again later). 

 Take two vanilla beans and cut them in half. I just hold them down on a cutting board and use a pointy paring knife.  They’ll feel a little tough. Take the point of the knife and scrape out the seeds in the center of the vanilla bean.

Looks a little like itsy bitsy caviar, doesn’t it?

Put the bean halves and all the seeds into the cream mixture. Warm this over medium or medium low heat, just until you see bubbles around the edges. Don’t boil it! Once it’s warmed up, turn off the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. The vanilla flavor will steep in and become richer.

While the cream is warming up, separate your eggs.  You can save the egg whites for another use (you can freeze them, you know). I actually give them to the dogs as a special topping for their food (I know, gross, but they of course love it!).

Put the yolks in a medium to large size bowl. Pretty!

Mix in the sugar and salt and whisk vigorously.  You’ll see the eggs turn a more lemony yellow as you whisk them.  Now turn the heat back on under the cream – remember, you don’t want it to boil. 

Get a kitchen towel, wet it thoroughly, wring it out, and pull it tight around the bottom of the bowl your eggs are in. You are going to need to whisk very quickly while pouring the hot cream mixture into the eggs, and since I’m pretty sure you only have two arms, you need a way to keep the bowl stable.

Scoop out about a cup or so of the hot cream. I like to use a measuring cup.  Slowly pour the cream into the egg sugar mixture, whisking very quickly (aren’t you glad you stablized your bow?).  By doing this you are tempering the eggs.  This helps you to avoid have scrambled egg ice cream, which has never been one of my favorite flavors. 

Now pour the tempered eggs back into the pan and continue to heat, stirring constantly.  I know I keep saying this, but Don’t Let It Boil!!!

Remember this picture? As you stir, you’ll feel it getting thicker (use a wooden spoon – you’ll see why in the next picture).

When you think it’s done, see if it’s coating the back of your spoon.  You can tell for sure when you can draw a line through the coating on the back of the spoon and it stays separated (now lick your finger – it will make you want to stop right now and pour yourself a glass of custard – try not to do this).

Pour this lovely custard though a strainer into a clean bowl.  Put this in the refrigerator and let it get really cold.  Here’s a tip: the colder it is, the better it will freeze, and the smoother and creamier it will be.  I cool mine in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.  It’ll keep a couple of days before you need to freeze it. When you’re ready to freeze it, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular ice cream freezer. After freezing, put it in the freezer for 2 hours or longer so it really sets up – when it comes out of the ice cream maker it will be the consistency of soft serve. 

The finished product! This is before hardening it up in the freezer.

Okay, now let’s make Butter Pecan.  You’re going to use the same methodology, slightly different ingredients.

First, coarsely chop some pecans.  This is about 5 or 6 pulses in the food processor.

Put half the pecans in a dry pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, until they get nice and fragrant.

Put the cream and milk into your pan, add the brown sugar, and stir well. Pour the toasted pecans into your cream mixture.  At this point you will follow the same procedure of warming the cream/pecan mixture just until bubbles form around the edges, then take it off the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes or so.  This will give it a nice pecan flavor.

While the cream is warming. put the rest of the pecans in your pan, add the butter, and cook and stir over medium heat for about two minutes.

Add some brown sugar, and continue stirring.  The brown sugar will start to melt and caramelize. 

Yummy.  Don’t let them burn!  Now take them off the heat, keep stirring for a few seconds. Grab a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and ine it with parchment paper or non-stick foil.

Spread them out on the parchment paper and set aside.  Resist the urge to sample right away – hot sugar will burn your tongue!  Once they’re completely cooled, break them up and put them in a ziplock. Hide them from your husband.  You’ll need these later when you freeze the ice cream.

Right before your ice cream is finished freezing, add the candied pecans.  They’ll get mixed in perfectly and won’t get soggy.

Oh my. This is really sinful.

Now for the grand finale, Mint Chocolate!!

Again, same basic procedure here., slightly different ingredients. The mint smells fabulous!

Pack a cup full of cleaned, dried mint leaves.  Try to find these in the unpackaged produce section – they’re less expensive.

Add them to cream mixture, warm it up, and let it steep. You’ll strain them out once you’ve made the custard.

Before you freeze your custard, chop up some chocolate.  Basically take a big knife and shave it off. Use whatever you like – I’ve never tried white, but that might be fun.

Put it in a double boiler, let it melt, and add some oil.

Pour it into a little pitcher or bowl and let it come to room temperature.

Just as the ice cream is finishing, pour in the melted chocolate in a thin stream – isn’t this cool? The ice cream is so cold it breaks the chocolate into little tiny bits.

The final result!  Very good with homemade hot fudge sauce (I’ll post the recipe for that later).

I have a blast making ice cream. These are just three recipes among hundreds.  Have fun with it!  One last hint.  I looked all over for cardboard ice cream containers and I finally found them at sweetblisscontainers.com. They offer both pint and quart size (all of these recipes make a little better than a quart) and they are terrific.  Check them out!

Here are your recipes (please note, I’ve been making these for awhile, have changed some around, but I can’t remember where they came from except I know they are from the Internet) :

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cup milk
  • 2-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Place the cream and milk in a medium size heavy saucepan.
  2. Slice both vanilla beans in half, and scrape out the seed from the vanilla beans, and add the beans and seeds to the cream mxture.
  3. Heat the cream over medium low or medium heat until it starts to bubble around the edges, then remove from heat.  Let steep for at least 20 minutes
  4. Mix the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk vigorously until the eggs start to lighten to a lemony yellow. Place a wet towel around the bottom of the bowl to stabilize it.
  6. Reheat the cream mixture – do not let it boil.
  7. Take about a cup of the hot cream mixture and slowly pour it into the egg mixture, continuing to whisk vigorously until all combined.
  8. Pour the egg/cream mixture into the remaining hot cream mixture. 
  9. Continue to heat, stirring constantly, and do not let it boil.
  10. When the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, run your finger across the back of the spoon. If you leave a clean mark that doesn’t close, the custard is done.
  11. Strain into a clean bowl, discarding vanilla beans.
  12. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before freezing.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups pecans, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

    1. Coarsely chop pecans.
    2. Pour the milk, cream and 2/3 cup brown sugar into a medium saucepan, and stir to combine.
    3. Saute 3/4 cup of the pecans in a pan over medium heat until toasted, and add to cream mixture.
    4. Warm cream mixture over medium low or medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat, let steep at least 20 minutes.
    5. Mix eggs and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk vigorously until eggs turn a lemony color. Place a folded wet towel around the bottom of the bowl to stabilize it.
    6. Reheat cream mixture, do not allow to boil.
    7. Take about a cup of the hot cream mixture and slowly pour it into the egg mxture, whisking constantly. 
  • Continue to heat, stirring constantly, and do not let it boil.
  • When the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, run your finger across the back of the spoon. If you leave a clean mark that doesn’t close, the custard is done.
  • Strain into a clean bowl, and discard pecans.
  • Refrigerate several hours or overnight before freezing. Add vanilla before freezing.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil.
  • Toast the remaining pecans in a saucepan with the butter, sauteing for 2 minutes.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and continue stirring until the sugar melts and caramelizes.
  • Pour the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread it out. Let it cool completely.  Break into small pieces, and place in a Ziplock bag until needed.
  • When the ice cream is almost done freezing, add the pecans.

Mint Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 ounces chocolate (semi-sweet or mik)
  • 2 teaspoons oil

Directions:

    1. Place cream, milk and mint leaves in a heavy saucepan over medium heat or medium low heat. Heat just until bubbles appear around the edges and then remove from heat. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.
    2. Mix the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
    3. Whisk vigorously until the eggs start to lighten to a lemony yellow. Place a wet towel around the bottom of the bowl to stabilize it.
    4. Reheat the cream mixture – do not let it boil.
    5. Take about a cup of the hot cream mixture and slowly pour it into the egg mixture, continuing to whisk vigorously until all combined.
    6. Pour the egg/cream mixture into the remaining hot cream mixture. 
    7. Continue to heat, stirring constantly, and do not let it boil.
    8. When the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, run your finger across the back of the spoon. If you leave a clean mark that doesn’t close, the custard is done.
    9. Strain into a clean bowl, and discard mint leaves.
    10. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before freezing.
    11. Melt 3 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler, and add 2 teaspoons of oil.  Pour into a small bowl and let it come to room temperature.
    12. At the end of the freezing cycle, drizzle the chocolate mixture into the ice cream in a thin stream.


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