Now that we no longer live three blocks from Pozzetto, we’ve been forced to improvise for our quotidian ice cream needs. Upon returning to the States I hit commercial gelato brands like Ciao Bella and Talenti pretty hard, hoping to find something approximating the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed. No dice. In fact, I was pretty disappointed in the quality-to-price ratio of those particular brands. If I’m going to drop six bucks on a pint of ice cream, it better make me see God.
My big revelation came when I was staying in California for a week this fall and my lovely hostess J oh-so-casually busted out dishes of her homemade Mexican chocolate ice cream on my first night in town. Oh man, it was good – creamy and light and deeply chocolatey with just a kick of chile to round the whole thing out. And instead of pretending that it was an impossibly difficult task to make one’s own ice cream at home (like I would have likely done to my own houseguests), J took the modest route and said it was totally simple and encouraged me to get an ice cream maker to try it myself.
Fast-forward to Christmas, when B’s parents sweetly gave me an ice cream attachment for my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer (birthday present from B to Clarence, aren’t we predictable?). Our first go at the basic chocolate gelato recipe from the Silver Spoon wasn’t exactly a roaring success – our custard didn’t set properly, we burned the chocolate ever so slightly, and the final product was decidedly crumbly and grainy. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t worth the time and effort. B and I turned to the amazing wealth of information about ridiculous things on the internet and discovered a few tricks for making ice cream at home more successful. I think the biggest improvement came from beating the eggs yolks and sugar together until they were extremely light yellow and made ribbons off the wisk – no small effort but this is what live-in boyfriends are designed for.
Our second batch of ice cream was a riff on this Epicurious recipe for sour cream ice cream. I had heard tall tales of Momofuku’s sour cream ice cream with lime but it was impossible to track down the recipe on the internets and I was too lazy to do my usual Barnes and Noble camera phone trick. Plus B had been nursing an idea about rosemary ice cream. Put all those fat kid yearnings together and the result was one hell of an ice cream:
Rosemary and Lime Zest Sour Cream Ice Cream
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
2 cups (1 pint) sour cream
2 stalks of fresh rosemary, removed from stalks and roughly chopped
zest of 1 lime
In heavy saucepan combine sour cream, half-and-half, and 3/4 cup sugar and bring just to a boil. Remove pan from heat, and then put the hot cream mixture into another bowl. In a second bowl whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. I mean, really wisk it. Wisk it until your arm aches, and then switch arms and wisk some more. Then slowly pour egg mixture into hot cream mixture, wisking all the while. Don’t worry, you can skip the gym today. Return the incorporated ingredients to the saucepan, then add rosemary and lime zest. Cook over low heat, stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 170°F (though we didn’t have a candy thermometer and used a meat one instead and everything came out fine, so take that Williams Sonoma). Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Chill custard (or “batter,” as they say in the biz) until cold (we find our wintertime porch works excellently for this task), then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. While the soft-serve consistency of this ice cream was delicious right out of the churn, this guy really hit his stride after about three hours of setting in the freezer. I’d serve it with a salty caramel pine nut tart at a fantasy dinner party.
Any home ice makers out there? What are your favorite recipes? What about store brands that tickle your fancy?