Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Homemade Ice Cream Happiness

I grew up on homemade ice cream.  It was one of our most beloved summertime treats.  We had one of those old-fashioned freezers that you had to crank by hand and I remember summer evenings on the back deck sitting on top of the contraption to hold it steady while other members of the family took turns cranking (remember I was the youngest.) Our freezer made a ton of ice cream and my mom had the best recipe. She usually made "plain" vanilla (though it was anything but plain,) and she often sweetened it solely with honey.  We called this glorious substance "am-kee" because that was how one of my sisters had pronounced "ice cream" as a toddler.  That gave it a special distinction: ice cream was from the store, am-kee was from heaven by way of mom's kitchen. 

The Badger bought me an ice cream maker for my birthday in 2003.  It was small: it only made a little over a quart.  But that was fine because our family was small. It was fun to try to make my own homemade ice cream, though I didn't feel I could call it am-kee because instead of my mom's recipe I always only used the recipes that came with the ice cream maker that were proportioned to its small size.  But I learned the difference between ice cream made with a cooked custard and ice cream made the easy way (just mixing milk and cream and sugar together.)  I decided if I was going to bother with homemade ice cream then I was going to bother with the cooked custard because it makes such a difference.   I just learned to pour the eggs reeeeeeeaaaaaaaallllly slowly so I didn't end up with egg drop soup ice cream. 

After a few years the little ice cream maker died.  Last year for my birthday the Badger bought me a new one sized to the needs of our current family: it makes a gallon at a time.  Thank goodness for Costco-sized cartons of whipping cream!    

We do not use it often, but when we do it's a real treat we enjoy thoroughly.  And now with Pinterest, I am branching out recipe-wise. 

And I have learned something from the internet that I am very happy about.  This is totally "duh," I know, but I'm excited about it.  Homemade ice cream right as it comes out of the maker is very soft--barely frozen enough--  and will melt very quickly.  For me that's part of my memories of the entire festive ice cream making experience.   You scoop a bowl right out of the canister as soon as the cranking has finished (because you can't wait a minute longer) and then hurry and eat it before it turns to soup in your bowl.  And then you put any leftovers in your freezer and they freeze totally solid... rock hard and icy, and even if you let it thaw quite awhile (more torture for the impatient) the texture is never quite the same. 

Well, here's the "duh:"  once the ice cream in the machine is done you put it in your freezer for about 3 hours.   This is long enough to give it a firm texture but not too long for it to turn hard and icy.  Your ice cream will be absolutely perfect, and if you got the custard right you are in for an eating experience so glorious it seems like it should be illegal. 

It was impatience that kept me from figuring out this simple trick before now.  I already had to wait while the custard cooled and then while the ice cream froze.  I wasn't going to wait another 3 hours on top of that. But now that I know what I am waiting for I will plan ahead for those extra hours. 

I made chocolate ice cream a couple of days ago.  I carefully made a custard with the gourmet cocoa I buy (because I don't often indulge in chocolate so when I do I want it to be the good stuff!)  The recipe took an entire cup of cocoa powder.  Then I added vanilla extract and cream.  After this concoction had been properly frozen it was the most decadent and delicious chocolate ice cream I have ever had in my life.   (And we had a whole gallon of it! Oh boy!) 

I am not a food blogger so this low-budget picture is all I have to offer, which is a shame because this stuff was life-changing.

Now I have homemade ice cream on the brain and I have some really amazing ideas running through my head, as well as a bunch of that cream from Costco.  We shall see what wonders unfold over the next few days.  Please don't bring this up in November or January when I am complaining about how much weight I gained with this pregnancy.  And go and make yourself some ice cream in whatever way suits you because it's August and it's important.  Thank you. 

1 comment:

Aflyonmyhomeschoolwall said...

This post was a treat for me . . . I'm having a weepy pregnant day for no good reason other than being pregnant. :) I smiled as I read about your ice cream.