Friday, July 16, 2010

Ice Cream!

Another way to generate reader comments is this conversation about ice cream.  So I'll start with a question: what's your favorite kind of ice cream?  As for me, I may have mentioned this before, but I really can't choose.  At an ice cream shop, I usually choose chocolate peanut butter, but what I buy at the store is more dependent on my mood.  It almost always involves chocolate, but when I gave up chocolate for a month, I learned to appreciate nonchocolate desserts even more.  And I've always had a soft spot for peach ice cream.  Peachy and creamy, yum!  I also LOVE any ice cream with a swirl of berry, but they are really hard to find!  Berry ice creams, no problem, but vanilla or chocolate ice cream with swirls of berry: not so much.  Okay, enough about that.

This summer I decided to try to make ice cream.  Without an ice cream maker.  I first checked with David Lebovitz who says you should make a custard style, rich ice cream at least when you are first learning.  Serious Eats seems to agree.  But I was not game for separating 5+ eggs for an experiment.  So I decided to try it without the eggs, after all if it turned out, that meant that I could make ice cream without eggs and if it didn't, well, then I learned something.

What I did: cooked 1 cup milk with 2 skinned peaches (note: skin peaches by putting them in boiling water for about 30 seconds) and a little salt until it was boiling for a little while.  I whisked in 2 cups of cream and 2 tablespoons of arrowroot (I generally followed the instructions from a vegan ice cream book which, in a sense, uses arrowroot rather than egg, most likely as a thickener.  One could use cornstarch, but cornstarch likes to boil, so it is best added to foods before they cook).  I added a teaspoon* of vanilla, stirred this, chilled it for a couple hours, then froze it, stirring every hour, until I went to bed (roughly 9 hours later, it wasn't sufficiently chilled, apparently) at which time I stirred in two more peaches.  Seven hours later, I got up and stirred it and stirred it again about 5 hours later, well I tried to.  It was grainy and pretty frozen by this point.  It tasted pretty good, but it was grainy.  I also thought it tasted too much like cream and wasn't peachy enough to be called peach ice cream (it might have also been to vanilla-y not to be called vanilla).

What I learned: I'm not yet sold that ice cream cannot be made without an ice cream maker and with no eggs, but I think it might take more experimentation.  Plus, it probably tastes better with the eggs, I'm just lazy.  But what I learned is what one should do is make the cream one night, chill overnight and get up the next morning, stirring every hour.  And stir hard!  According to Serious Eats, above, adding air helps crystilazation from occuring.  Granted, it also makes it a little less thick and creamy, so there's a downside.  This is where evaporated milk helps, theoretically.

So what ice cream should I try next?  I'm going to need to try some new techniques, but of course, vanilla is just too boring.  It kind of makes me angry in fact, by it's boringness.

*my teaspoon of vanilla or cinnamon or a variety of other spices is always more


  1. I love all ice cream and am so not picky about flavor. I did have amazing peach ice cream at the Penn State Creamery in State College, PA. It's called Paterno Peach! I love chocolate but don't always choose chocolate ice cream. If you are ever in Austin, TX, check out Amy's Ice Creams; I think it's the best I've ever had. It was a very happy day when they opened a store in Houston (where we lived at the time).

    BTW, I'm not sure you can end up with smooth creamy ice cream only stirring it once an hour; the water in it really likes to crystallize.

  2. Thanks for the comments!

    As for the stirring ice cream thing. After a little more experimentation, I found that if your ice cream is rich enough, it does a pretty good job if you only stir it once an hour. Or if you freeze custard, that turns out well. I just made chocolate ice cream with all cream and even didn't stir it overnight and it worked, but I'll post about that later. It deserves it's own post. And possibly even pictures!

  3. Jeni ( taught us to use a little bit of cream cheese to help keep it from crystallizing. She's writing a cookbook for cheap ice cream makers. I'm assuming it would work (as well as could be hoped) without one too.

    As for my favorite flavor, totally depends on my mood. Chocolate peanut butter and vanilla bean are always a good choice, though I'm really looking forward to trying Jeni's Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries.