I can still remember the first time I made ice cream. I was 12 and Dad had just bought an ice cream machine for our summer cabin on the Olympic Peninsula. You know, the kind that requires ice, rock salt, muscle, and stamina. It was a novelty to own an ice cream machine in those days, and it became the star attraction at just about every summer gathering we hosted or attended. And I was the designated Head Churner.
So it was probably inevitable that I would become an ice cream pusher. Over the years, I extolled the virtues of “classic” homemade ice cream to hundreds of culinary students. And in the process, I abandoned the hand crank machine and purchased a couple of these babies.
Yet, I’ve only written about homemade ice cream twice on LunaCafe. Mea culpa! Check out incomparable Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and dreamy Strawberry Basil Sour Cream Gelato. Both are examples of classic ice cream technique.
There’s no doubt that the custard technique makes spectacular ice cream. It has been my favorite ice cream for decades. It’s smooth and creamy with a lovely, lush flavor.
But this technique presents issues for the home cook. To begin with, there’s the somewhat tricky process of making perfect custard. It likes to curdle. Then there’s the rock hard ice cream that’s difficult to scoop. And perhaps most disconcerting of all, there’s the fact that homemade ice cream is best eaten within 24 hours. After that time it tends to become gummy and icy.
Enter Jeni Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Her ice cream technique is bizarro. And the ice creams resulting from this technique are, well, spectacular.
“Ice cream is a frozen emulsion of water, butterfat (the concentrated fat in milk), proteins (whey and casein), sugars, (sucrose, glucose, lactose, and others), starch (thickener), air, and flavors. The balance of all these ingredients, on a molecular level, determines the flavor, texture, consistency, and finish of the ice cream. Other additions (fruit, chocolate, alcohol, etc.) can disrupt the balance. In addition, if the proportions of water, proteins, and fat are out of balance, it can make the ice cream feel too cold or too warm on the palate. Understanding the interplay of these ingredients on a molecular level is what ice cream making is all about.”
The book explains in some detail (courtesy of Penn State’s Ice Cream Short Course) the scientific interplay of key elements—water, butterfat, protein, sugar, starch, and air. We have one ultimate goal when making ice cream: to bind the water molecules in the milk.
We accomplish this with essential proteins (milk), helped with heat (sheds outer coating), evaporation (concentrates proteins), and acid (cream cheese). Plus sugar, glucose (light corn syrup), and starch (cornstarch).
Milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup are simmered for 4 minutes to denature milk and reduce water content. A cornstarch slurry is added and simmered for 1 minute to thicken the sauce. Cream cheese is stirred in to acidify the base. That’s it.
With this simple methodology, your ice creams will soar to new heights. I’ve created a dozen or more ice creams using this approach, and I’m now a huge fan. The texture is divine and the keeping quality unsurpassed. I don’t even miss the egg yolks.
Peanut butter is one of those flavors that almost everyone loves. It’s even more magical with homemade strawberry jam.
Technique Note I’m using Jeni Bauer’s easy ice cream technique here, which is a tremendous boon to home cooks with non-commercial ice cream makers.
Timing Note Remember that it takes at least 12 hours for the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker to solidly freeze. And that the ice cream base should be refrigerated for at least 4 hours (overnight is even better) before churning. It’s also best to make the strawberry jam ahead so that it’s well chilled. Thus, although easy to make, homemade ice cream is not a last minute dessert.
Equipment Note I use the electric Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker (ICE-30BC series). It works best—freezing the ice cream base within 25-30 minutes to a soft-serve consistency–with a maximum of 4 cups of ice cream base. Batches larger than this tend not to set sufficiently.
1 pound fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced (3 cups stemmed and sliced) ¼ cup superfine sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons whole milk
Peanut Butter & Cream Cheese
½ cup natural peanut butter (roasted nuts and salt only)
2 tablespoons cream cheese, cool room temperature
2 cups whole milk
4-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- To prepare Strawberry Lime Jam, in a small saucepan, add strawberries, ¼ cup sugar, and lime juice. Stir to combine and let macerate for 15 minutes. Put pan over medium-low heat, cover partially, and cook gently for 8-10 minutes, until strawberries are fully tender and juices are thickened somewhat. Let cool completely
- In a processor or blender, coarsely chop strawberries. You want visible bits of strawberry, so don’t puree completely. Reserve, covered, the fridge.
- To prepare ice cream base, in a small bowl, whisk cornstarch into 2 tablespoons milk. Reserve.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk peanut butter and cream cheese until smooth. Reserve.
- To prepare milk infusion, put 2 cups milk and vanilla bean together in a large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the bean, dry thoroughly, and save for another use.
- To milk infusion, add cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 4 minutes to reduce water content, remove from heat, and whisk in cornstarch slurry. Return to the heat and simmer for 1 minute, until cornstarch activates and sauce thickens.
- Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk peanut butter-cream cheese mixture into hot sauce.
- Cool somewhat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- Using an ice cream maker, churn ice cream, according to the manufacturer’s directions, until fully set. (Using this 2-qaurt ice cream machine, I had fully set ice cream in 20 minutes.)
- Scoop ice cream into a freezer container, layering it with Strawberry Lime Jam. Don’t worry that the two aren’t fully integrated; that will happen naturally when you scoop it.
- Seal and freeze until firm. Serve within a week or so.
Makes about 1 quart.
This post is part of the monthly Peanut Butter Bash party. The first Thursday of the month, each member of the Peanut Butter Bash gang post a dessert featuring peanut butter and a mystery ingredient. For March 2015, it’s peanut butter plus jelly or jam. To see what these other great cooks created on this theme, click here: An InLinkz Link-up.
Check out the Peanut Butter Bash Facebook Group and the Peanut Butter Bash Page for more information. The hashtag is #peanutbutterbash.
More LunaCafe Ice Cream & Gelato Recipes
- Blueberry Lemon Verbena Spritzer with Candied Ginger Ice Cream
- Fried Banana Split with Mexican Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- Strawberry Basil Sour Cream Gelato
- Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- Ice Cream Short Course | Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences