Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream

There has been a lot of experimenting going on in my house lately. It is just too bad it hasn't been on different types of healthy salads. Instead, I have been trying my hand at ice cream making. A few months back I decided that if I wanted to eat "junk" food, I would need to make it myself (Michael Pollan's Food Rule #39 "Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself".) I stopped buying ice cream.... then needed ice cream. I didn't own an ice cream maker so while out one afternoon with my mother, I mentioned this, and before I knew it I was the proud owner of a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

It actually started out pretty healthy. The first recipe I tried out in my new machine was Lemon Sorbet. Such a simple treat, made out of nothing but water, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Because of the deep lemon flavor of this sorbet, a little goes a long way. After I got the thumbs up on this one, I got a little fancier. For my first foray into ice cream making I tried my husband Mike's favorite combination of chocolate and peanut butter. It came out just okay.... I realized later that I cooked the chocolate custard too long, turning it into more of a pudding and therefore making the ice cream way TOO thick. Oh, and I put way too much peanut butter in it. I will need to try this one over again in the future.

Now, my two next attempts at being a glacier were much more successful. I now knew the importance of the custards consistency in the final frozen product. I decided next to go with my favorite ice cream flavors. After seeing a beautiful, fragrant mint plant at Whole Foods, I decided I needed it for my garden and that the first thing I would make with it would be Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I went home and researched recipes, finding that most involved the use of peppermint extract instead of the fresh leaves.... which made sense. I was intent on using the leaves, so I finally came across a few recipes and after reading reviews, decided on one of them. I soon realized that my little mint plant was not going to cut it. I need A LOT of mint. For this 1 quart recipe, I needed two bunches of mint. After all the steeping and cooking and more steeping, the finished product was really good. As my husband said, "if you didn't know what mint chocolate chip ice cream tasted like, this is what you would expect." It was herby is a good minty way and the consistency this time was perfect. The 70% dark chocolate (almost two full bars) made sure there was a true chocolate taste in each bite.

The last ice cream I made was Coconut-Chocolate Chip. I love coconut and chocolate together but never can find it in the same ice cream or gelato. This was another success, and my favorite so far. Using coconut milk gave it the great coconut flavor, and toasted coconut flakes gave it great coconut texture. The addition of the Green & Black 70% dark chocolate (1 1/2 bars) just made it plain amazing.

With the unofficial start of Summer upon us this weekend, I don't think there is a better time to try your hand at ice cream making. Top the weekend's BBQ off with a big scoop of homemade ice cream. Your family and friends will be WOW'd!!!

Happy Memorial Day!!

BTW.. I will post the Mint Chocolate Chip recipe next week!

Lemon Sorbet
From the Cuisinart Website

3 cups sugar
3 cups water
2-1/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon zest

Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer without stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cool completely. This is called a simple syrup, and can be made ahead of time. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
When cool, add the lemon juice and zest; stir to combine. Turn the machine on. Pour the lemon mixture into the freezer bowl, and mix until the mixture thickens, about 25 to 30 minutes. The sorbet will have a soft texture similar to a freshly scooped Italian ice. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.
Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving. Makes 1 quart.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 cups half & half
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut (put in a dry fry pan over med heat, tossing often, until lightly brown and fragrant)
6 oz dark chocolate (finely chopped)
1 tsp rum (this is needed to keep the ice cream soft)

Heat half & half and sugar over med heat in a heavy bottomed pot until steaming. Beat egg yolks in a bowl. Meanwhile chill coconut milk in a metal bowl over an ice bath (bowl full of water and ice). Place a sieve over the coconut milk.
Once milk is ready, add it slowly to the eggs (this is called tempering). You don't want to make scrambled eggs! Once they are all combined, pour mixture back into the the milk pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. It will be done when you can coat the back of a wooden spoon with the custard and after running a finger across the spoon it doesn't run. At this point it should be removed from the heat immediately and poured through the strainer into the cold coconut milk to stop the cooking. Make sure all the custard gets pushed though the sieve (this will remove all egg that scrambled).

Once mixture is chilled, stir in the shredded coconut, the pour into the ice cream maker. Churn for 20-25 minutes. Once done, fold in the chopped chocolate and rum and freeze in a container. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Makes 1 quart.

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