Vanilla ice cream ready for scooping

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I have finally made scoopable ice cream. Those of you who read my blog regularly know this is something I’ve been struggling with for a couple months now, so I was thrilled when the latest edition of Bon Appétit showed up with ice cream on the cover.

One of my best friends from college randomly decided to visit this weekend. I hadn’t seen her in about five years, so I was really looking forward to the visit. Which also meant I was thinking about what I could have for her when she arrived. I decided to give a new ice cream recipe a chance.

When tackling a new kind of dessert, I like to find a great base recipe before I really start experimenting with flavors. It turns out that can be a tricky task when it comes to ice cream. But, after trying about five different recipes, Bon Appétit’s True Vanilla Ice Cream was the winner.

I have to admit that when I finished the custard mixture, I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. The custard was thinner than the custard other recipes produced. But I think that’s why this recipes works. Instead of getting a dense frozen custard after putting it through the ice cream maker, you get a nice, flavorful — and, most importantly, scoopable — ice cream.

I’m really happy with the way this ice cream turned out. Now I feel confident that I can start trying more flavors.

2Vanillaicecream072813Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg yolks

Combine heavy cream, whole milk, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape in seeds; add pod (or use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract). Bring mixture just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. If using vanilla bean, cover; let sit 30 minutes.

Whisk 5 large egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup warm cream mixture. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.

Strain custard into a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water; let cool, stirring occasionally. At this point, you can transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover it by putting plastic wrap directly on the top of the custard. It can cool overnight in the fridge and be processed in the morning.

Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container; cover. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

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Getting the hang of homemade ice cream

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When I received an ice cream maker last month, I had the grand idea that I would make homemade ice cream on a regular basis. I thought it would be a cinch.

But it hasn’t been. Finding a good ice cream recipe has been more difficult than I anticipated. While the simpler apricot-almond recipe I first tried turned out pretty well, it wasn’t the creamy, scoopable kind of ice cream I had in mind. Since then, I have been on the hunt for something with that store-bought texture.

As it turns out, that kind of ice cream is made by first making a custard, then processing it with the ice cream maker. I tried the chocolate ice cream recipe from the manual, but it ended up being much thicker than what I was looking for. It ended up being more like frozen custard. After looking at several other recipes, I decided to see what Joy had. It had a few pages worth of recipes, but I settled on strawberry frozen yogurt to see how it would turn out. So far, it is my favorite recipe of the ones I’ve tried. It had a rich strawberry flavor, vibrant color and good texture right after making it, which I attribute to the gelatin used in the recipe. However, the next day it was stiff, so I had to let it sit for about 20 minutes before scooping. It’s still not quite the consistency I’m looking for, but the flavor is good.

So, I’m still looking for a good ice cream recipe. If you have one you’ve had success with, please share it!

Ingredients
2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup soy milk or whole milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Spoon yogurt into a fine-mesh sieve set over a large measuring cup or bowl. Refrigerate until 1/2 cup liquid has drained off, about 2 hours, then scrape the yogurt into a medium bowl. Discard the liquid.

Place strawberries in a food processor and pulse a few times, or until the fruit is crushed. Do not puree. A potato masher can also be used for this step. Add sugar, vanilla and salt. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup milk. let stand for 10 minutes to soften.

Combine 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve hte sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool for five minutes, then add the gelatin mixture, stirring until it dissolves completely. Let cool to room temperature.

Gently whisk the milk and strawberry mixtures into the drained yogurt. Refrigerate until cold. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze as directed. Mine was done after about 30 minutes.

A taste of Tahiti

Until Saturday, I had never attempted to make ice cream. Every recipe I’d ever seen required an ice cream maker, and I never felt that was worth the investment. When I turned on the Food Network on Saturday morning, Giada De Laurentiis was doing a show on foods inspired by her Tahitian vacation. One of the things she was making was Tahitian Ice Cream. Her recipe didn’t require an ice cream maker, so I decided to try it.

The process of making the ice cream was a lot simpler and quicker than I had anticipated. Once the cream is whipped to the proper consistency, just mix in the rest of the ingredients, put it in the dish and freeze it.

Toasting the coconut proved to be more difficult. The first time I tried toasting it in the oven, as Giada’s recipe instructed, it burned. I checked it and stirred it after four minutes and put it in for another two, but it was completely black after those two minutes. The second time I tried doing it in a pan and pulled it off the burner when it turned golden brown, but I didn’t consider that it would keep cooking in the pan after I took it off the burner. It burned again. The third time I watched it more carefully and took it off the burner when it was light brown. It cooked until it was golden brown. Third time’s a charm.

The recipe calls for light rum, but all I had was dark rum, so the flavor dominated the ice cream. Next time I’ll reduce the amount of dark rum or use light rum, as the recipe says. The consistency was not as thick as store-bought ice cream, but it was still good. The toasted coconut added a nice contrast to the texture of the ice cream. I bet this would also be good served with fresh pineapple as a topping.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon gelatin
1 vanilla bean, preferably Tahitian
2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup toasted coconut, see Cook’s Notes

Place 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow softening, about 2 minutes. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the water mixture using a paring knife. Add the empty vanilla pods. Stir the water mixture over medium heat until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove and discard the vanilla pods.

Beat the cream until thick using an electric hand mixer in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks. Add the water mixture, coconut milk and rum. Beat until thick and light.

Pour the mixture into an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Freeze until the mixture is the texture of soft-serve ice cream, about 2 1/2 hours.

Scoop the mixture into small glasses using an ice cream scoop. Garnish with toasted coconut and serve. Freeze any unused ice cream in an airtight container.

Cook’s note: To toast coconut, place sweetened or unsweetened, shredded or flaked coconut in a single layer in a small frying pan over medium heat. Stir the coconut every couple minutes. Remove from heat when it is just starting to turn light brown. If you leave it in the pan, watch the coconut and continue to stir it until golden brown.

If freezing the ice cream for longer than 2 1/2 hours, allow the ice cream to stand at room temperature until softened, about 30 minutes before serving. Whisk the ice cream until smooth and serve.