Friday, July 23, 2010

Maple Bacon

At some point during the great Ice Cream Adventure I mentioned to the Chief Taste Tester that I was considering making maple bacon ice cream. Being the good midwestern gal that she is, she's never met a pork product she didn't like, and immediately upon mention of this creation there was nothing else that could satisfy her.

There are lots of recipes out there, but in the end I decided on something from The Ice Cream Fellow, who made an award-winning version. I probably could have figured this one out on my own, but in an attempt to make it less icy I thought I'd follow someone else's good example. Of course, I didn't have exactly everything, so it's a little different, but I think I have added enough butterfat to make it work.

2c heavy cream (called for 2.5 c)
1c half-and-half (called for none)
1.25c 2% milk (called for 1.75c whole milk)
1.5c maple syrup, reduced to 0.75c
6 egg yolks
pinch of salt (called for 0.25tsp, but I've learned my sea-salt lesson)

Next day*: I took 5 strips of bacon, sprinkled them with brown sugar, and put in a 400 degree oven, turning a couple of times, until they were dark (David Lebovitz says they should be 'mahogany colored'), then let them cool until they were hard before chopping into small pieces. Then I took the custard from last night and froze it. When it was done, I put the bacon bits in and put it in the freezer for tomorrow.

I also served the dregs scooped from the ice cream maker to the Chief Taste Tester, who declared it "insane." Insanely good, I think that means.

*You know you live an exciting life when your Friday evening involves making ice cream. Whatever, I'm happy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lessons from the first few weeks of ice cream making

The Chief Taste Tester has spoken, and declared that I have made ice creams with "a good flavor, but too icy." I think it's a 3 part problem: a) too much air whipped in during the freezing in the ice cream maker b) a container that's too large leaving a lot of air in it (which will be solved by putting a piece of plastic wrap down over the top of the next batch) and c) not enough milk fat in the mix. In her words, "Ice cream is not diet food." Well, no, but that doesn't mean I have to use only heavy cream, right? In any case, next up is maple bacon, which I may just go all the way on.

Coming back a little later to add: trawling around the internet tonight I stumbled upon The Ice Cream Geek, who sounds like my kind of guy, and who has delved into the technicalities of why my ice cream is too icy. And I'm right. ;)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lemon Thyme

I decided I wanted a lemon-thyme ice cream and thought, "I've done this enough now, I'll just wing it." And it totally worked!

Recipe: 2c half-and-half, 1c milk. Put half a cup of sugar, the zest of two lemons, and the leaves of a handful of thyme into the sauce pan. Heat. Whisk 1/4c sugar with 3 eggs. Do the usual to make custard and steep for a good while (at least 20 minutes, but I think it might have been a little longer). Strain. Cool. Pour in most of the juice of two lemons - just taste and get it nice and lemony, a little more than you want it to be at the end.

At this point, I discovered that I'd been over-using my ice cream maker and the cylinder wasn't fully frozen. Actually, I discovered that after I tried to freeze it in advance of the Saturday evening BBQ. So, back into the refrigerator & freezer go the custard & cylinder, respectively.

Flash forward to Sunday afternoon. Everything's good and cold. So I set up the whole apparatus in the bathroom (it's noisy, and our kitchen doesn't have a door, so I always run the ice cream maker on the bathroom counter. Is that weird?) and got it going. This took the air well, and turned out very light.

And oh so good. In the words of the Chief Taste Tester, "Move over salted caramel, this is the best yet."

National Ice Cream Day

It's National Ice Cream Day today. What better holiday could there be? What are you doing to celebrate? I've got lots of great flavors in the freezer, and will be tasting them all today.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Salted Caramel, take 2

After the success of last weekend, I agreed to make salted caramel ice cream again for this weekend's gathering. And I learned just what a stroke of beginner's luck I'd had.

It all started when I got excited and over-mixed the caramel. Pretty soon it looked like this, except less caramelized. But after a quick Google I learned (thanks David Lebovitz) that if I just stop stirring (note to self, do not use whisk to make caramel) it will caramelize anyway. But by the time this had happened successfully, the flavor was *really* intense.

It's freezing now, and we'll see how it tastes tonight. It's less salty than last time, but the flavor of this ice cream is bordering on burnt caramel. I think it's pretty good, but I can do better.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Campari Orange Sorbet

On the advice of the ever fabulous Rebecca, and to celebrate both summer and my love of Campari, I made Jaime Oliver's Campari and Grapefruit Sorbet. Let this be a lesson to me that sorbet does not really require a recipe, just a liquid sweet enough for your liking. Anyway. I couldn't find grapefruit juice at my local neighborhood deli, plus I think people  non-Campari-lovers (like the Chief Taste Tester) will like this a little better if it's slightly sweeter. So I used orange juice.

I'm freezing it up right now in anticipation of another weekend full of fun, friends, and ice cream. Meanwhile I'm drinking Campari & (homemade) soda. And I don't think I'll wait until Saturday to try this.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Salted Caramel

The third flavor I made during this weekend's ice-cream making binge was a salted caramel. And oh my god, was it good. It probably helped that I upped the proportion of cream - I followed the recipe except using half-and-half where it called for heavy cream, and 2% milk where it called for half-and-half. And those 6 egg yolks, yeah, that helped too. I used sea salt instead of kosher salt, and the Chief Taste Tester said it was a little too salty. I never met a salt I didn't like, so I have no complaints, but I'll drop it down a little next time (I'm sure that would make my doctor happy).

I should have made the custard on Friday, but I was out of containers, and it wasn't until Saturday that I finally decided to buy some more, so I let it cool for about 3 hours before putting it in the machine. I froze it for a few hours, but to be honest it didn't set long enough and was a little soft. The gang thought it was good, but I would have liked to put scoops on cones without dripping on the table.

I served this at the end of a barbecue, after the need-refinement green chili mint and peppercorn cherry I also made as part of the binge, on cones. I was a little worried that people would feel like they'd already had too much, and not eat it, but we had no problems finishing a quart between the 8 of us.

Next time I'm also thinking about making some extra caramel sauce and putting it in to make caramel swirl. And I can't wait.

Green Chili Mint

Inspired by MNZ, I made green chili mint ice cream loosely based on this recipe. As with the peppercorn cherry I made at the same time, the custard was 1.5 c half and half, 1.5c 2% milk, 2 eggs, 3/4 c sugar. I upped the proportion of chili - 4 serranos. About the called for proportion of mint.

I served this with the peppercorn cherry over a half a peach, because the Chief Taste Tester said "I wouldn't want to eat very much of this by itself." I thought it worked well when they kind of mixed together - so maybe a chili - cherry is in order?

Too much serrano, not enough mint. And again, too icy. Next time I'm serving this over brownies.

Peppercorn Cherry

I used this recipe from All Recipes as my inspiration, sort of. Except that I actually made a custard, with 1.5 c 2% milk and 1.5 c half-and-half, 2 eggs, and 3/4 cup sugar. And I put pink peppercorns in while I was making the custard, as suggested by this recipe from ChikaLicious Dessert Bar via, although I forgot to crush the peppercorns. And I couldn't find the cherry concentrate, so I just let my frozen cherries thaw a bit and then put them in while the ice cream was in the ice cream maker. So really, nothing like any of my sources.

Which is probably not the best thing to do for your first attempt in 3 years, but whatever.

Verdict: too icy, which suggests need more cream and less milk. A little too eggy, so I think perhaps I need to get it off the stove a little earlier (though the addition of cream might help). Not very pepper-y, obviously, without crushed peppercorns. And the cherries weren't really enough to impart a true cherry flavor to the ice cream, so the custard/base was kind of bland. It was a little bit like a vanilla-less cherry vanilla ice milk.

I served it with the green chili mint I also made that day. People liked it, but it didn't get rave reviews. Lots of things to do better, but I'm intrigued by the flavor combination.