Monday, January 30, 2012

OMG a Recipe: There's No Crying in Baseball and It's Never too Cold for Ice Cream

I think that's pretty much my double-mantra for life: a stubble-faced Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, screeching to a weepy Racine Belle player that there is absolutely positively no crying in baseball, and no matter how many inches of snow are piled atop the ground, it is never too cold for ice cream. Not ever!! Also, it's never too late to enjoy the flavor of peppermint, especially when you've been saving the best of the holiday candy for last!

The last of the Christmas-themed posts (I swear) - Photo by Wasabi Prime
This is one of the biggest challenges of blogging, which is notoriously known for getting backlogged with posts: getting holiday-sensitive material posted somewhere near its relevant holiday. Nobody wants to hear about a Christmas roast in the middle of June. Sure, I could plan all the holiday festive eats and treats ahead of time and have tinsel-festooned posts appearing all throughout December, but that would mean kicking off the holidays a month or two earlier, and frankly, I just don't wanna be decking the halls with Christmas cookies in September. All that being said, yes, this is a peppermint chocolate ice cream, using a holiday-specific candy, to boot. But I hold my belief to be true -- ice cream knows no season, and that goes for its flavors, too.

Keep Christmas in your heart, or your freezer, it sets up real nice - Photos by Wasabi Prime

We received a lovely bar of Theo peppermint and dark chocolate over the holidays. Score, right? Theo Chocolate is amazing, both in flavor and principle. They're local, organic, free trade -- it's like the trifecta of goodness and quality that Portlandia loves to make funny-but-true skits about. And it also becomes such a precious thing that I get all Gollum about it and don't want to just eat it, I just sit in a corner, all hunched over, petting it like the One Ring and the Mister asks if I'm gonna share that thing or what? Fair question. So my solution, much like the Lord of the Rings story: destroy The Precioussssss! Well, pulverize the heck out of the chocolate bar and spread its tasty goodness across several portions by making ice cream out of it. Portlandia, are you listening? After you've Put a Bird on It, decided We Can Pickle It, you can now Make Ice Cream Out of It!

How Wasabi rolls when making ice cream at home - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Along with the Precious Chocolate Bar that I was in danger of hoarding like a house full of cats, we replaced our old n' busted ice cream maker with a fancy-schmancy version that gets tacked onto a KitchenAid mixer. Happy Boxing Day to us! Yes, the KitchenAid attachments are great, with the one teensy drawback that you have to spend a small fortune or pre-sell some organs to get the KitchenAid mixer itself. I admit, we are fortunate to have this mighty appliance, but if you want to make your own ice cream, don't feel like you have to buy a bunch of extra crap. A smaller, less expensive ice cream mixer works dandy (which was what I was using before) -- it's all about having a good-sized freezable container that gets super-cold and either an electric mixing attachment or even a hand-cranked paddle to churn the ice cream as it freezes. I have to admit, the KitchenAid attachment's maiden voyage had it working almost too well -- the freezable container is big, so more surface area than other smaller ice cream makers; after it's had a couple of days to get super cold in the freezer, it makes the ice cream mixing super-fast. As in, don't let the paddle idle for one second, because the motor will just get stopped in its tracks by the rapidly thickening ice cream. It doesn't freeze solid as a brick, but enough to where the mixer's motor gets stuck and that's a bad thing, so just keep all the parts moving.

But back to the good stuff, the ice cream itself: it's not rocket science and once you start making your own, you'll think twice about buying the mass market stuff because you can really customize the flavors. The way I make ice cream is like how I cook -- I make things based on the ingredients I have. The holidays left us with extra heavy cream, plenty of eggs and holiday candy, so my brain went: Ice Cream. I love peppermint ice cream, but I also love chocolate mint, and that's where the Theo candy bar came in -- I melted down half the bar into the ice cream batter/mixture and bashed up the other half with a candy cane to make a crunchy texture to add to the churned ice cream. When I make chocolate ice cream, I prefer a bittersweet chocolate flavor, so I always add a small bit of finely ground coffee -- like, just a scant half teaspoon's worth. It just gives it a little more depth. It might feel too strong for some, but that's just my personal preference. You don't have to worry about large grounds getting into the ice cream, as I always strain the ice cream batter before it's chilled -- a metal strainer is the best thing and it's probably one of my favorite kitchen tools, since it can work for hot and cold uses.

For the basic ice cream batter, this is my base recipe -- it starts off with less sugar, in case you add extra ingredients or flavorings that are sweetened, and you can always add more sugar to taste as you simmer it. It's basically a frozen custard base -- eggs, sugar and milk/cream. It's your choice to add vanilla, chocolate or any other flavorings, which usually are added in small increments if it's strong like vanilla. If you're wanting to make chocolate ice cream, I melt down about a cup and a half's worth of chocolate chips into the heated milk and sugar. It's also fun to mix things, like vanilla with orange zest, to make a creamsicle flavor. Or in this post-holiday batch of ice cream, I melted chocolate and added more crushed chocolate and peppermint. If you decide to add some crushed bits of something into the ice cream for texture, sprinkle it into the already-mixed batter, layering it with the churned ice cream as it's poured into a container (preferably glass) to finish setting up in the freezer. As you scoop the finished ice cream, the bits will mix itself into the ice cream and it's less hard on the motor of your ice cream maker if it doesn't have to churn chunky solid bits like nuts.

Wasabi's Ice Cream Base

3 cups whole milk or 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup cream if you want it extra-rich
3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Special tools: ice cream maker, metal strainer, whisk, silicone spatulas

Place a medium-sized pot on the stove and set it to medium. Add the sugar and milk/cream, warming to a simmer, whisking to make sure sugar is melted. At this point, add whatever custom ingredients you wish to the mixture, including the salt, whisking to fully combine and spend a few minutes to develop its flavor. Drop the heat to medium low.

Take the lightly beaten eggs and add some of the heated cream and sugar liquid into the eggs and whisk to temper them; this helps bring the temperature of the eggs up gently. Add the egg and liquid mixture slowly into the pot, whisking steadily to incorporate and keep the eggs from scrambling. This will thicken mixture and it will start to resemble a loose pudding. Check the temperature to make sure it hits 160 degrees - this ensures that the eggs have been cooked. Keep whisking until it gets to that temperature and then remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through the metal strainer, using the spatula to help move any of the solid bits around to get any excess liquid from them. There's going to be little chunks from the egg, plus any solid bits from the flavorings you may have added, so it's good to not skip this step -- no one wants unpleasantly chunky ice cream!

Let the mixture cool and chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least six hours so that it's fully chilled before churning in your ice cream maker.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man that looks good… I agree it is never too cold for ice-cream and just discovered Theo over the holidays. yummmm


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