Monday, April 4, 2011

Vanilla Bean AND Strawberry Ice Cream

We had a warm day and the first thing that came to my mind was, "I think I'll make ice cream..."  Is that so wrong??
I consulted with my three year old. 

She concurred. 

I asked for her input as to the variety of said ice cream and she proposed that we initiate a project in which not just one, but two varieties of ice cream were the end goal.  I asked her to clarify for me her intentions in this production, to which, she replied, "While grocery shopping with you yesterday, I made the acute observation that you purchased some fresh strawberries.  Upon returning home, I also came to realize that you have a jar of Madagascar vanilla bean pods in the pantry.  I propose that we use these items to conjure up a unique ice cream recipe in which both are equally represented for the intended satisfaction of as many members of this family as possible."

No really, she said that.  But when she said it, it sounded more like this:

 "I like strawberry, cause that's what Dora eats.  And Julia loves vanilla, so we should make that for her!"

Practically verbatim!

Well, anyway, we made two kinds of ice cream.  We started with a really good vanilla bean ice cream recipe and then added a strawberry element to turn the vanilla ice cream into strawberry ice cream.  It worked beautifully. 
We started by finely chopping some fresh strawberries.  These need to be pretty small, maybe M&M sized or smaller.  When they're frozen, they can be pretty solid and biting into a large strawberry chunk can be a little upsetting.  And ice cream should be a pleasant experience.  So chop them finely, please. 

Add some sugar, stir it up, and set it to the side to macerate for a bit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
*After about an hour of macerating, the strawberries should be transferred to the fridge to chill.  Adding warm strawberries to cold ice cream will just melt the ice cream, not cool the strawberries. 

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat some heavy whipping cream,

some sugar,
some whole milk,
and add a whole vanilla bean, seeds and pod, (sliced lengthwise, then scraped with the back of a knife to liberate the seeds),

and a dash of salt.
Warm this over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to help the sugar dissolve and to separate the vanilla seeds from each other, breaking up any clumps that you see.  This mixture should not boil.  When you notice that the sugar is completely dissolved and the pot is starting to steam, its time to turn off the heat. 

Now for the tricky part.  Have you ever tempered an egg?  Its a bit of a daunting process if you want to ensure the best results.  In this case, we're only using the egg yolks, which makes this a little easier. 

In a small bowl, whisk together two egg yolks.
While stirring CONSTANTLY, add one teaspoon of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. 

Continue to add one teaspoon at a time while stirring constantly.  The point of this is to slowly and gently bring the egg yolks up to nearly the same temperature as the cream mixture.  This will cook the eggs without causing them to get firm and clumpy.  Ice cream should be creamy and smooth, not eggy and clumpy.  This process could take several minutes.  After every three or four teaspoonfuls, check the temperature of the yolks and compare to the temperature of the cream.  You may fill the bowl before the temperature is right.

When the two mixtures are nearly equal in temperature, very slowly drizzle the egg mixture back into the cream mixture, all the while, stirring constantly. 

This step is necessary to get the egg up to the same temperature as the cream so that we are working with a uniformly smooth, and fully cooked custard. 

*DO NOT TAKE THE TEMPERING OF THE EGG LIGHTLY.  If properly done, the results will be a very rich, very smooth ice cream that will make you moan.  If the egg is treated carelessly, it can easily ruin the custard and you'll end up with scrambled egg ice cream.  Not pleasant. 

So now that we've dealt with the whole egg ordeal, we need to cool the cream.  You can transfer the cream to a bowl and place it in the fridge for a few hours to make sure its gets really cold.  Sometimes I double bowl it, placing the bowl of cream into a larger bowl of ice.  This helps things move along quickly.
Its very important that the cream is really cold before you put it into the ice cream maker.  Not just cool, but cold.  If you have the space for it, I would even recommend that you put the bowl in the freezer and let it it freeze about 30% before you transfer it to the ice cream maker.  This will really help it to form those very tiny ice crystals that lend themselves to a very smooth and creamy ice cream consistency. 

This is my ice cream machine.

I pour the mixture into this frozen bowl thingy and place the thingy on the motor thingy and cover it up with the plastic cap thingy.  You should just follow the directions for your own thingy. 

My machine's instructions say to let this mix for 25-30 minutes.  When it was done, it transferred half of the ice cream to a plastic container.

It should be the consistency of soft serve right now.  Pop this into the freezer for a couple of hours to "ripen."  When you pull it out, it will be creamy, and dreamy, and rich, and vanilla-y.  This was so good, that my family ate it all while I wasn't looking and I didn't even get to take a picture of the final product!!!  Suckers!!

But, no worries. 

I still have the strawberries and the other half of the ice cream to deal with. 

So after you remove half of the vanilla and place it in the freezer,  grab your strawberries from the fridge.  Pour the whole bowl, juices and all, right into the freezer bowl (or whatever you have) with the rest of the vanilla.  Let this mix for another five minutes or so.
Look at that.  Closer.  Are you thinking about diving in?

When its been well mixed, transfer the strawberry ice cream to another plastic container.

Don't forget to lick the utensil.
Like you need me to remind you.

Chill for 2 hours and serve. 

You can have two scoops of vanilla, or two scoops of strawberry, or one scoop of each, or two scoops of each.  Or maybe you're in a diet so you can get your beach body ready for the summer... and if you are...
I'm sorry. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe
2 c. heavy whipping cream
 1 c. sugar
2 c. whole milk
1 vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
1/8 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks

for strawberry variation
1 c. finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 c. sugar

Over medium-low heat, combine cream, sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt.  Stirring constantly, heat until sugar is dissolved completely and vanilla seeds are separated.  Temper in egg yolks and chill the mixture until very cold.  Transfer to ice cream maker and follow instructions for freezing.
If making strawberry ice cream: Add chilled strawberries and macerated juices to the ice cream maker during the last five minutes of freezing.

1 comment:

  1. My mouth is watering....
    If I ever get married, the first thing I am going to do is open up your blog and show that lucky guy all the super yummy recipes that he is going to make for me! :P