Ice cream oh yes please. We all want the best ice cream we can get. Pop to Gelato Messina in Sydney (Victoria Street and Crown Street) or for Melbourne in Brunswick or Jocks in Albert Park, but to name a few. But for your own divine creations ….. keep reading.
My two favourite ice creams are from my two culinary idols – Miss Nigella (Lawson) and Miss Martha (Stewart) – take a curtsy ladies. Your tried and true classic home styles are the winner in my book and have me returning season after season. But before we take a look at these two recipes, Id like to explain a little bit about ice cream and the ‘star’ ingredients required.
Ice Cream is a wonderful mixture of cream & milk , egg yolks , sugar and the flavour desired – to which the options are endless. These ingredients are made into a divine custard called a crème anglasie . This is then cooked,chilled churned and frozen – simple really Technically however, it’s a frozen foam made up of tiny air pockets trapped in a network of ice crystals, fat globules, and dissolved milk and sugar. Good grief, that sounds awful!
Each star ingredient in ice cream plays a part; it’s very own role. But they all come together for that ‘amazing’ texture we know in a home made ice cream. Yes you can play a little with the basics so yes you can alter the milk used, reduce the sugar, increase the milk, decrease the cream etc but this will sadly effect the texture. Ice cream home made, is always better made in the classic way.
The star Ingredient line up:
Air: Yes air – it separates the solid and liquid parts. Without air the ice cream would be solid and very dense. So, as the ice cream churns and constantly mixes, the cream mixture incorporates air and grows. The air is magically trapped to the network.
Sugar: It not only sweetens the mixture but also controls the texture. Sugar stops the pesky ice crystals from growing too large. Sugar combined with the fat content produces the divine lusciousness we love. But it also means too much sugar will make a sloppy not properly frozen mixture. So the balance is the thing to master.
Fat: (this sounds a little awful but it is just that… fat). But is absolutely essential and it’s naturally locked into the egg yolks, cream and milk. You can also use various milks like evaporated milk or even condensed milk. Fat is so essential for the smoothness and body of the ice cream. Ice creams with a lower fat content have a coarser icy texture.
The delicious flavour: There is NO limit on this – absolutely everything is possible from basic vanilla to green tea, black pepper and basil, fresh strawberry to tomato – yes tomato ice cream! But when an ice cream is very very frozen and cold it has no smell at all. As is warms a little in your mouth you will taste and then smell the flavour.
Alcohol: Yes you can add a flavoursome liqueur (such as Cointreau, Frangelico, Schnaps etc), you can also add vodka or gin to a sorbet mixture. You only need a enough for flavour. Too much will effect the freezing temperature of the mixture.
Other ingredients: Too many to mention, but here’s a few: fresh coconut, coconut cream and coconut powder, chocolate, cocoa, lemons, limes, tea, biscuits, lollies, all types of fruit, dried fruits, nuts and the list goes on.
Cooking: to cook or not too cook? Many custards are cooked – heating them until the milk scalds (about 80oC). Take care to not boil the mixture as you’ll curdle the eggs. If you don’t cook the mixture, yes you can still enjoy the ice cream – but be aware the ice cream contains raw egg. It’s always best to eat a home made ice cream (that contains eggs) within 5 days. This normally is never a problem! Home made ice cream is so very delicious it gone within 1 hour at my house.
Churning: Once you have the delicious creamy crème anglaise you chill this very well and then pour into your ice cream churn (standmixer with a ice cream attachment) and mix/ churn until a soft serve consistency appears.This churning is from 10 – 22 minutes depending. Always churn on the lowest speed possible. The churning is best done slowly and not raced. Once the mixture is churned to a soft serve consistency, its done.
Dollop and spread it into a sealed container and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours. Now if you don’t have a ice cream churn, you pour the mixture into a shallow container and allow it to freeze for about 1 ½ hours, then remove it to a food processor and smash up the mixture before re freezing it. I would repeat this process three more times as you are breaking the ice crystals – a very important step.
So that’s the basics, below are the two favourite recipes I mentioned earlier. I return to them over and over again
Nigella’s Fresh Strawberry Ice cream
(adapted and tweaked a little by me, the original recipe can be found simply on the web)
2 punnets ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
¾ cup castor sugar
500ml full cream milk
500ml thickened cream
Seeds scaped from 1 pulp vanilla pod
10 large room temperature egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur
Place the strawberries into a bowl. Scatter about 1 1/2 tbsp the sugar over them and set aside.
In a 2 litre heavy based saucepan, combine the milk, cream, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla. Bring this upto boiling point (but don’t boil), set aside to infuse the flavours.
Place the egg yolks and remaining sugar into your standmixer with the whisk attachment. Turn to high speed and whisk for 5 minutes or until very thick and creamy.
Reduce the speed to low and pour in the hot cream mixture (discard the vanilla pod)and incorporate the cream mixture into the yolks and mix until smooth. Chill very well.
Puree the strawberries to the desired consistency and chill well.
Return the chilled creame anglaise to the standmixer and slowly combine with the strawberries.
Immediately churn the mixture , while its very cold to a soft serve consistency. Spread into a freezer suitable, cover and freeze.
Martha Stewart’s caramelised peach ice cream (adapted and tweaked a little by me, the original recipe can be found simply on the web)
4 large firm peaches (white or classic variety)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups castor sugar
2 tbsp peach schnapps (optional)
550ml full cream milk
500ml thickened cream
8 large room temperature egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cut a small cross in the bottom of each peach and plunge into boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove to a bowl of ice cold water. Using a small paring knife, peel off the skins, cut peach in half and remove the stone (keep the skin and the seeds). Cut the peaches into wedges.
Place the peaches into a non stick saucepan or frying pan with 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar and the lemon juice. Cook over a medium low heat for about 10 minutes, gently tossing until softened and golden. Set aside.
In a 2 litre heavy based saucepan, combine the milk, cream, remaining sugar, vanilla and the reserved peach skins and stones. Bring this upto boiling point (but don’t boil), your just scalding the mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
Place the egg yolks, salt, vanilla and the remaining sugar into your standmixer with the whisk attachment. Turn to high speed and whisk for 5 minutes or until very thick and creamy.
Reduce the speed to low and pour in the strained hot cream mixture (discard the vanilla pod and stones )and incorporate the cream mixture into the yolks and mix until smooth. Chill very well.
Puree the peaches to the desired consistency and chill well. Return the chilled creame anglaise to the standmixer and slowly combine with the peaches. Immediately churn the mixture, while its very cold to a soft serve consistency. Spread into a freezer suitable, cover and freeze.