My sister, T, who is pregnant and about to give birth any day now, recently went through an ice cream making frenzy. Her mom-in-law in the States had given her the latest in ice cream maker models, and T was eager to try it out.
I have never attempted to make ice cream before, simply because it required a machine that I didn’t have, and it always seemed so much easier to run to the store. So, armed with bold determination that my sister is as well as her new copy of an old ice cream book, she drags me along for the ride.
Broken down, ice cream is just frozen sweetened cream. Various kinds of dairy products as well as how long they are mixed are what determine the quality of ice cream. Cream is a terrific multi-purpose ingredient to use because of its thickness and its ability to hold air when stirred. When stirred, milk proteins trap air and the resultant tiny bubbles lighten the product.
T’s and my first project was chocolate chip cookie dough, a flavor that I would give away one of my cookbooks for. It’s sweet and rich and full of the cookie dough that I still sneak bites of when I’m making cookies. I made the cookie batter while T made the sweet cream base, which consisted of cream, eggs, sugar, and (whole) milk. We had just come from the supermarket, so our newly bought ingredients weren’t as chilled as they should’ve been. That’s why it took close to an hour in the ice cream maker before even a hint of thickness was visible. We ended up chilling the base for a few hours and when it was of soft-serve consistency, T stirred in the (by now frozen) cookie dough chunks.
The result? The ice cream while good, never really froze hard. It also had plenty of icy layers, so we didn’t get the smooth consistency we’d been hoping for.
A few days passed, and during that time, T left her ice cream maker bowl in my freezer, and the rest of the ingredients in my fridge. The next time she came over, everything was chilled. She decided to make chocolate. Like before, she made the sweet cream base while I made the chocolate flavoring. I used the last of my Callebaut unsweetened chocolate, and since good food calls for good ingredients, that may have been one of the reasons why we were successful this time. After mixing the cream base and the chocolate, we put it in the fridge to chill for a few hours before it went to the ice cream maker. We were to learn later on that aging ice cream in the freezer improves its body and texture.
After just 20 minutes of churning, T’s ice cream was already looking like soft-serve eat-me-now ice cream. It was all I could do to not lick the darn bowl. This time, T took no chances, and after ten more minutes in the maker, she transferred the ice cream to an air-tight plastic container. A few more hours of freezing, and then the moment of truth.
All together now: ”Mmmmm,” T and I intoned. It was the homemade ice cream of our dreams: smooth and silky with not a trace of iciness. Success! I credit all this chilly goodness to my sister. I was just along for the ride, after all. (wink)
Thanks to Dopiaza for his outstanding photo.