Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hanging On To Summer

Just ask me what I want for dessert and my number one answer will always be ice cream…good ice cream!

I’ve already admitted to being an ice cream snob. I grew up on great ice cream and can’t eat anything that isn’t made using top quality, farm-fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

I’ve been researching ice cream recipes since my recent trip to San Francisco. Both Humphry Slocombe and Bi Rite have inspired me to cook ice cream rather than take the easy way out and always use cold ingredients.

Nancy Silver of Snookelfritz Ice Cream told me the same thing on Saturday when I tried some of her flavors at Green City Market. She cooks her ice cream and said they are all custard based. Just look at her Peach and Brown Sugar and Blackberry. Both were both delicious. In fact, I haven’t had an ice cream I didn’t love at Snookelfritz.

I treated the ladies at Flamin’ Fury Peaches to Nancy’ ice cream. They let me use their delicious fruit to showcase Nancy’s scoops.

The recipe below is for Bi-Rite’s vanilla and was in the August issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  Honestly, I haven’t looked at the magazine for years but was really impressed with the recipes in the August issue.

It’s my first time cooking ice cream and I was not sure how long to leave it on the stove but like everything else, I took a leap of faith to bring it to the next level.  

In fact, I just had a bite (straight out of my ice cream freezer) and it was so delicious that I broke down and bought a copy of Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. In fact, I’m studying the all-famous recipe for Salted Caramel, the ice cream that started it all in San Francisco at the Street Food Fest.

Stay tuned and Bon Appetit!

1 whole vanilla bean
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In heavy saucepan stir together cream, milk, half the sugar, and the salt. With a small knife split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds from bean. Add seeds and split bean to pan. Heat over medium-high heat. When mixture just begins to bubble around edges, remove from heat; cover. Let seeds and split bean soak for 30 minutes to infuse the liquid. Remove and discard vanilla bean.
Place egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl and whisk just enough to break up yolks. Whisk in remaining sugar until smooth. (The sugar dilutes the eggs a bit and prevents them from scrambling when the hot cream is added.) Set aside. Uncover cream mixture and heat over medium-high heat until almost simmering. Reduce heat to medium.
Using a ladle, carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream; whisking constantly, pour into yolks. Repeat. (This step, known as tempering, gradually heats the yolks to reduce the risk of overcooking.) Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, slowly pour yolk mixture into hot cream in saucepan. Continue to cook on medium, stirring constantly in a figure eight to cover entire bottom of pan. Pay close attention as the consistency can change quickly. Cook until mixture goes from the consistency of heavy cream to that of a thin puree, but no thicker. You'll notice the mixture thickening slightly and feel a little more resistance as you stir.
(NOTE: See, it doesn’t exactly tell you how long to cook it. I read in a Humphry Slocombe recipe that it should be 2-3 minutes so that’s what I did. The path on the spoon did hold but I also read a recipe that said it should be cooked to a certain temperature. More later)
To test the readiness of the custard, remove the spoon from the saucepan and drag your finger across it. If the base coats the back of the spoon and the path made by your finger holds for a second or two, it's ready. Remove the pan from heat and immediately pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup or small bowl.
Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir frequently with a clean spatula until cool. Remove and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours until completely cold. Stir in vanilla extract just before churning and freezing the ice cream.
Variation Cinnamon and Snickerdoodles:Stir in crumbled cinnamon-sugar cookies and a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon. If you like, top with sauteed apples or a drizzle of caramel sauce.
Variation Lavender and Honey:Stir snipped fresh or dried lavender and honey into the finished ice cream. For a more intense flavor-before making the ice cream base, add 1/4 cup honey and 2 tablespoons dried lavender with the vanilla bean.
Variation Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar:Before stirring strawberries into the ice cream, chop and cook the berries with a little sugar to remove excess water. Cool, puree, then stir into ice cream with a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.
Variation Double Chocolate:Before heating the cream, stir together 1/4 cup of Dutch process cocoa powder with half the sugar. Whisk in a little of the cream to make a paste. Then whisk in the remaining cream, the milk, and salt.
Variation Blueberry-Lemon Ice Cream PieTo create an ice cream pie in sundae form, start with a sweet blueberry sauce made by cooking the berries with sugar and a squeeze of lemon until thickened. Pour over the ice cream and finish with crumbled gingersnaps or graham crackers.
Variation Citrus Olive Oil and Sea SaltDrizzle ice cream with bergamot olive oil (a citrus fruit that gives Earl Grey tea its hint of orange flavor), Meyer lemon, or orange-flavored olive oil will add the same citrusy brightness. Top it all off with a dollop of whipped cream and crunchy coarse sea salt flakes.
Variation Caramelized Banana Sundae. Create a sundae with warm cooked bananas. Start by melting butter and brown sugar in a skillet. Add a couple of split bananas; cook until caramelized. If desired, add a little rum and cook and stir a few minutes. Spoon over ice cream. Top with whipped cream and toasted chopped pecans.