Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chocolate Ice Cream

Some people buy an ice-cream maker on impulse and never use it—as if it were something horrible like a treadmill. As for me, I got an ice-cream maker a few years back and, for a while, used it so often that I wondered whether an A&E crew might show up to stage an intervention. After not using it for at least a year, I busted it out upon finding myself with five egg yolks awaiting a purpose. (Why I had five egg yolks in my fridge is a whole nother story involving a cake and two batches of royal icing, the first of which went wrong. Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story.)

This is a pretty easy recipe for a ridiculously rich chocolate ice cream (though you should know it won’t be ready till the next day). If you don’t have an ice cream maker, just post on your Facebook or something that you want to borrow one. I guarantee one of your friends who just got married will have one they’ve never even taken out of the box.

Start by heating this on a burner over medium heat in a saucepan:

  • ½-1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • Now you’re already freaking out. You’re like, “OMG, what do you MEAN heat milk and cream, I don’t know how to do that or what I’m looking for.” Relax! I’m going to tell you: The heat should be medium or medium-high. Stir it with a whisk or, if you don’t have one, a wooden spoon, and after a few minutes the cocoa should be dissolved.

    Once it starts seriously bubbling, turn it down to low and move on to the next phase, which is going to freak you out even more than the last one but is seriously not that big of a deal, so just calm down, okay? If it gets all curdled, you can just start over. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Combine in a heatproof mixing bowl:
  • 5 egg yolks (you could get away with 3 or 4); see "Separating Eggs" sidebar below
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T brewed coffee (optional)

  • Now this is the part people really freak out about, because it involves raw eggs. But it’s going to be just fine. Using a turkey baster or a mixing cup with a handle, scoop/suck up some of the hot cream mixture, then gradually pour it into the egg mixture while whisking with the whisk. (Seriously, if you don’t have a whisk, get a whisk. They’re like $2. In a pinch, use a fork.)

    Separating Eggs

    Crack the egg on a hard surface, and while holding your hand over a tupperware container, pour the contents into your palm. Let the white slip through your fingers into the tupperware, then plop the yolk into your bowl. You can keep the whites in the fridge for a week or two to use for omelets or whatnot.
    Repeat this once, twice, three times, or even more. This is called “tempering,” which means you’re acclimating the raw eggs to the heated mixture you’re about to add them to—if you threw them straight in, they would curdle. You can't overdo this, so do it as many times as will make you not freak out.

    Once your egg yolks have spent quality time bonding with your hot liquid, you can add them in a slow but steady stream to the cream mix on the burner, whisking as you go. Once it’s mixed, turn the burner back up to medium heat.

    Now, many recipes will tell you to cook this mix till it "coats the back of a spoon." I find this direction to be as confusing as telling a 14-year-old girl to figure out when a boy really likes her. Basically, you want it to get some thickness so it's almost the consistency of a milkshake, then turn the burner off.

    Now you strain the custard, as it’s now called, through a strainer into a bowl, which you then put in the fridge from 4 hours to overnight. Then you follow your (or your newlywed friend’s) ice cream maker instructions, which usually involve pouring the custard in, letting the machine go for 20-25 minutes, and transferring to a container in the freezer.

    If you want to add a mix-in to your ice cream, pour it through the opening of the machine in the last five minutes. Here are some suggestions:

  • Chopped dried cherries
  • Chopped candied ginger
  • Frozen spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Crumbled toffee bars

  • Once your ice cream is looking thick, transfer it to some Tupperware, put it in the freezer, and let it set up for as long as it takes to be really ice-cream-y thick, maybe an hour or two. Yeah, this requires some patience, but it’s worth it. You’re making ice cream. How awesome is that?

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