Last August this came in the mail:
“Homemade ICE CREAM! You won’t believe how easy it is” was the claim. Like the sucker that I am, I immediately flipped to page 25 to “get the scoop” and was immediately disappointed. Oh sure, it was easy… if you owned an ice cream maker. Gee, thanks, Bon Appetit.
It was right around this time that Mark and I were beginning a registry for our wedding. We had made an agreement to limit the number of appliances (mostly for space reasons), and a big, bulky ice cream maker wasn’t really a priority.
But then everything changed as I was perusing the Crate & Barrel website. KitchenAid has an ice cream making attachment for our standing mixer. Yesssssss.
Flash forward to January, when we were lucky enough to receive it as a shower gift. We were psyched to use it, but we were living through one of the coldest winters on record – not exactly ice cream inspiring.
But then… little by little it started to get warm. Then Memorial Day came and went and it was hot. Summer!
So with a couple free evenings on our hands and 80 degree weather in the forecast, I dug out my old copy of Bon Appetit. NOW it would be “easy.”
The ingredient list was easy indeed: milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract (we went cheap and didn’t splurge on the bean), egg yolks, more sugar and heavy cream. The stuff dairy dreams are made of.
I was immediately struck by the number of eggs in the recipe. BA called for 5 yolks. But in reviewing other recipes, I saw some that yielded the same amount of ice cream with 8. In future, I’ll need to come up with a plan for all those wasted egg whites.
To get things started, I volunteered Mark to separate eggs (using our new egg separator) while I focused on the milk, salt, cream and sugar mixture on the stove top. I brought it almost to a simmer and then immediately removed it from the heat. So far, so good.
Next, there was a bit of a dance. Pour a little bit of cream into the eggs, mix and then pour the egg-cream mixture back into the rest of the cream. The entire thing returned to the stove top for three more minutes of cooking and stirring.
While other recipes called for a specific temperature, Bon Appetit said merely to wait until the cream covered the back of the spoon. Normally I hate this type of vague instruction, but my candy thermometer is currently broken, so it was a lucky outcome for me.
Next, I poured the cream into a bowl within a bowl of chilled water to cool the custard. Again, this is where the recipe deviated from other recipes. Other recipes tell you to put the custard in the fridge for a couple hours, if not overnight. Bon Appetit provided no time frame. Until cool? What did that mean?
Meanwhile, through all of this, the ice cream maker attachment was freezing in the fridge. We were supposed to have put it in there 15 hours in advance. We had remembered to do it only 8 hours in advance. But we figured we’d take a chance.
When I got too impatient for this ambiguous cooling to complete, I declared it time to assemble the machine! A few minutes of reading the instructions and I had the now-frozen ice cream bowl attached to the mixture. The directions were explicit that I turn the machine on first and then – and only then – pour the custard into the bowl…
According to KitchenAid, it takes between 20 and 30 minutes to make ice cream. We waited 20 minutes and it still looked liquid. We waited 30 minutes and it still looked liquid. We waited 40 minutes and…. yup.
We were pretty sure that between not freezing the ice cream maker long enough and the ambiguity of cooling the custard in the instructions, we were dealing with less-than-ideal conditions. But the final step was to place the ice cream in an air-tight container and freeze it overnight. There was no sense in giving up hope yet. I poured the slightly thickened custard into my new ice cream storage container, sealed it and placed it in the fridge. I also washed out the ice cream maker and placed it back in the fridge (in case we wanted to try again later in the week).
Now all we could do was wait. My only consolation was that I tried a bit of the cream before placing it in the freezer and it tasted delicious. Even if the consistency was wrong, the flavor was right.
The next night Mark and I had big plans (to watch The Lego Movie). Good thing we had dessert planned in advance. I pulled out the frozen container and began to scoop. It was pretty solid (not enough air from the freezing process, perhaps?) and my wrist took a beating. But once it started to soften, I was able to dish out two bowls of fresh ice cream! Success!
And so there we sat, enjoying homemade ice cream (and jimmies, which were store bought) almost a year after Bon Appetit had put the idea in my head. That’s what I call determination. We still have a few kinks to work out, but the summer is only just getting started. Plus, there are so many flavors we want to try making. I’m thinking something with chocolate and peanut butter. Mark wants bourbon cherry (taken from BA… he did not make that up on his own).