Today was rainy and cold in my house and the kids had no school for some unknown reason. Still, they got up at the crack of dawn and before I left for work, I decided to spend a little quality time with them. I can’t think of a better thing to do when trapped indoors but cook!
I had a memory in my head of one of Rachael’s best friends and chef extraordinaire, Emily Rieger, tell me how to make home-ade ice cream. I had always made it with the basics-heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract, maybe milk-and it always wound up getting too hard in the freezer and developing ice crystals. Emily had told me this was because I wasn’t using eggs and enough heavy cream-there was so much water in my recipe that it turned to ice. My recipe, incidentally, isn’t bad when just out of the ice cream maker, but it doesn’t last in the freezer.
Anyway, I decided that it would be okay for my 5 year old to call Emily for directions, first thing in the morning. We got the recipe and my kids and I proceeded to make ice cream together-boy, was it easy and fun!
Here’s what you do:
Ingredients for vanilla ice cream:
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean or if you can’t find one, vanilla extract is okay too (2 tablespoons)
- 10 egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, heat milk, cream, sugar and vanilla bean (make sure to open it up and scrape out the seeds, then plop the seeds and the pod into the pan) until it boils. Turn off the heat and remove pan from heat for a minute.
Meanwhile, give the yolks a light stir in a bowl just to mix them up.
Take the heated milk/cream mixture and add a small amount (1/2 cup) to the egg yolks, whisking all the while. Then add another 1/2 cup and continue whisking. This is called temepering the eggs and you are doing it so the eggs don’t get cooked too quickly and turn to scrambled eggs (not my first choice in ice cream flavors). Continue to add a little milk at a time to the eggs, wile whisking. Once you have added half the milk mixture to the eggs, it’s safe to add the milk/eggs mixture back to the saucepan with the rest of the milk/cream mixture.
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Put the pan back on a burner over medium heat. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, making figure eight motions. After about 7-8 minutes, the mixture should thicken. Once you can lift the wooden spoon and see a nice, thick coat left on the back of the spoon, it’s ready to remove from the heat.
Pour the mixture into another bowl and let cool. You can put the mixture into a bowl and then put that bowl into a larger bowl that is filled with ice water. This ice bath will cool your mixture quicker (see photo).
The mixture in its ice bath:
Once the mixture has cooled, you can then add it to your ice cream maker and follow the instructions. I use this simple machine and it turned out really delish (click here).
You can add 1 cup Dutch process cocoa and 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks to the warmed milk concoction to make chocolate ice cream. The warm milk will melt the chocolate.
If you want to add mix-ins, add them after the ice cream comes out of the maker but before you put it in the freezer. Today we made chocolate, as directed above, but added chocolate chips and stirred it together before freezing in a plastic container. We could have eaten it then and there and it would have made a great soft serve type ice cream dessert, or we could have used this mixture to make an ice cream layer cake, but we decided to freeze it for a few hours to eat when it’s just a wee bit stiffer. But let me tell you, it is unbelievably good!