Thursday, April 23, 2015

Homemade Ice Cream

My dad recently celebrated his 76th birthday and in our family, birthday celebrations often include homemade ice cream. Born to hardscrabble Appalachian parents, my pops grew up eating ice cream only during the winter, when snow was available to help freeze the cream while churning. He or my grandfather would hand crank the mixture while the other continued to pack snow and rock salt around the cylinder. Since the snow is gone, and I'm probably incapable of hand churning frozen cream for a half hour, I use a different method.

I've tried lots of ice cream makers: hand crank, electric crank, and an electric crank with a frozen cylinder base. I prefer the latter as the ice cream freezes faster with much smaller ice crystals. The texture is smoother and the frozen cylinder eliminates the need for ice and rock salt. I store the cylinder in the freezer so it's ready whenever we want ice cream.

I usually make vanilla bean ice cream as it's versatile enough to serve with birthday cake, shortcake and fruit pies (standard dessert fare in our family). This base can easily be dressed up with the addition of a fudge ripple, chopped nuts, fruit puree or bits of candy.

Cool the ice cream base complete before freezing. Churning will slow
and the ice cream will become thick, creamy and increase 
in volume. This took about 40 minutes of churning.

After churning, remove the ice cream to a container with a tight fitting lid and place
in the freezer to ripen. I usually make the ice cream the day before I serve it.

Perfect birthday treat: Vanilla bean ice cream with double layer chocolate cake.

Vanilla Ice Cream
From The Perfect Scoop
Makes 1 quart
Because this base doesn't include egg yolks, it's a bit lighter tasting and comes together quick.

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place one cup cream in a small saucepan. Add sugar and salt. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into saucepan. Add bean pod. Warm over medium heat, stirring, just until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add remaining cream, milk and extract. Chill thoroughly.

When ready to churn, remove bean pod and freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

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