Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ice Cream Without A Machine

I've essentially stopped using my electric ice cream maker. Between the space required to store the compartment in the freezer, to the fluffy, too-much-air results, I decided to use a freezer tray instead. This turned out to be an excellent decision. Not only is it faster, but not giving up half my small freezer to an odd shaped bowl that requires at least two days of pre-freezing is a nice bonus. I can make ice cream on a whim now, and the results are denser-more like a premium ice cream.

Here's a good standard recipe, and the technique I use.

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sifted cocoa powder, if desired

In a medium, heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a pan and heat until steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat and slowly at first, whisk a bit of the cream mixture into the egg yolks to temper it. Then, add the rest in a thin stream. Immediately return it to the pan and over medium heat, whisking constantly, bring it to a temperature of 170 degrees F. This is hot enough to kill bacteria, but not so hot that you scramble the egg.

Strain it through a fine sieve into a heat proof bowl. You will probably catch a few strands of cooked egg, so don't skip this step. Whisk in the vanilla and/or chocolate powder. Set the bowl in an ice bath and stir until cooled. Transfer to a large, shallow baking dish. I use a 9x13 glass baking dish and it works great. It is thin enough that it slides into the freezer over what I already have in there. Set your timer for 40 minutes, then give it a stir with a fork to break up the ice crystals. At this point, it is typically forming a ring around the perimeter-so just break it up with a fork. Then, repeat every thirty minutes until it is firm. At this point, you can stir-in shaved chocolate, or chopped up fruit-whatever. If you prefer a lighter ice cream, run it through a blender quickly before mixing in additional items. Then, stir in what you like and transfer to a plastic container to freeze solid. In a couple hours you should have really excellent ice cream that didn't require you to plan ahead, or sacrifice precious freezer space.

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