Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ice Cream: The Cold War

Soooooo.....this was a pretty frustrating experience for me. I had a ton of gift cards to Williams-Sonoma from our wedding and since I got the KA mixer as a shower gift from my mom, I decided to buy the ice cream maker attachment from W&S. I had heard so many people rave about it's ease of use etc. and figured, what the hell - I'll give it a shot.

Fresh Vanilla Bean Peach Ice Cream
(I combined Alton Brown's recipe for Burned Peach Ice Cream and the Peach Ice cream recipe in my Better Homes & Garden cookbook and then made some adjustments to the instructions after the originally instructions failed me.)

2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cups of chopped fresh peaches

Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp), except peaches, in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to simmer, stir for about a minute. Remove from heat and strain into a lidded container. Cool mixture, then refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.
Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit's instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Spoon the mixture back into a lidded container, add your chopped peaches, and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Ice Cream Issues
When I was little, we had one of those gigantic electric ice cream makers. The ice well was about 10 times the size of the tiny 2 quart ice cream container that sat inside. To make the ice cream you had to have plenty of rock salt on hand and plenty of patience as well. Which I've never had and which I especially never had as a 10-year-old. It would take a good 30 to 45 minutes for the ice cream to start forming from the batter and then we'd usually eat it that night. No one waited around for the ice cream to "ripen", so this step was completely new to me.

When I saw that the KA ice cream maker didn't require rock salt or it's own zip code to function, I knew it would be a much easier ordeal than the machine of my younger days. However, it still wasn't a smooth process - and I can't completely blame the machine.

I made my batter, kept my peaches aside in a separate bowl, stored my KA attachment in the freezer for nearly 24 hours and still had a meltdown - of both the ice cream and my patience.

See the ice cream started to set in the ice cream maker so then I put the peaches in, as the instructions dictated. It almost INSTANTLY melted! I felt so deflated. I waited, and waited. Watched the bowl turn round and round hoping, praying, screaming at it to get hard again, but to no avail. I had a soupy mess. I turned the machine off in defeat and returned the ice cream batter to the fridge and the KA mixer to the freezer.

I waited 48 hours before returning to the ice cream to try again - I wasn't giving up, but I needed some time to get over the frustration of it not working the first time before I possibly tried and failed again. Fortunately, I had success the second time around.
I strained my peaches out of the batter, poured the batter into the mixer and let it do it's thing. I didn't add the peaches again until right before I put the mixture into the freezer to ripen. Then came the taste test. Thankfully, it was very good and brought me back to those summer days on my back porch, listening to the ice cream monster churn away.

What I learned...
Of course, this was a good experience in the end because I learned a few things.
1. I keep my mixer attachment in the freezer at all times so it's at the coldest it can be, which is important for getting the ice cream to set.
2. I'm never adding any mix-ins to my ice cream until after it's finished churning. I don't care what the recipe says.
3. I have cliff notes! I bought David Leibowitz's book "The Perfect Scoop". He has some great tips and recipes.
So take shelter, there's a cold front coming! And it tastes like...mint chocolate chip!


Cate said...

Sorry it didn't work out the first time around...the finished product looks delicious, though! I'm obsessed with The Perfect Scoop!

Lisa said...

I love the sound of some of his recipes. I can't wait to try them out. And I'm definitely going to try his alcohol tip next time for keeping ice cream from getting rock hard.

Jaime said...

yum! peach ice cream :) next time make sure your peaches are super cold or almost frozen too, before adding them.

i'm just thrilled i learned how to make ice cream recently w/o an ice cream maker! :)