Wednesday, July 27, 2011

[Insert Jeopardy Theme Song Here]

I'm still waiting for my (second) replacement ice cream maker to arrive. In the meantime, I've been perusing websites and stockpiling recipes. My only problem: they all sound so good, I can't decide. So, I'm throwing the ball to you. Below are my current top 5 flavors. Vote for the one you want me to try next, and I'll tackle it.

Choose my next ice cream flavor!
Creme Brulee Ice Cream
Lemon Gingersnap Ice Cream
Malted Milk Ice Cream (with Crushed Whoppers)
Maple Walnut Ice Cream
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream free polls

Feel free to share your choice in the comments, and check back here on Monday to find out the results and (hopefully) find out how it turned out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anyone Know How to Break a Curse?

Someone, somewhere hates me so much they put a curse on me. A real, honest-to-goodness curse. It seems they don't want me to have homemade ice cream ever again.

As soon as I started churning my Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream a couple weekends ago, I noticed something odd - blue liquid was leaking from the side of the churn. It had never happened before, and as the churn came closer to room temperature, the leaking increased. I'm pretty sure that leak is the coolant that puts the "ice" in "ice cream." 

This was a week or so after the leaking started, when it had already leaked pretty much all it could.
I called KitchenAid and they went ahead and sent me a new ice cream maker. No need to send the old one back - it would leak in the mail - just dispose of it "properly." Seven to ten days until my new ice cream maker arrived, they said. In the meantime, I collected some new ice cream recipes and plotted my course. Yesterday, my new ice cream maker arrived.

I was a little surprised to see that it shipped in the store packaging. No bigger box around it, not even any tape on the lid to keep someone from opening it. And then I saw this:

This did not bode well.
Then I opened the box, and saw a small dent on the outside. No leaking though - perhaps it wouldn't be a problem. And then I looked inside the churn, and saw this:

The dent pushed through to the inside. It was big enough to keep the dasher from spinning freely, and would probably lead to a leak sooner or later. So I got back on the phone with KitchenAid customer service - which has been wonderful, even though their shipping operations leave a bit to be desired - and now they're sending me another new ice cream maker. No need to send this one back either, just dispose of it properly (again). So now I have two broken ice cream makers sitting on my kitchen counter, and I'm googling "proper ice cream maker disposal." 

I'm a little bummed, since I'd wanted to try making another batch of ice cream this weekend. Now it'll probably be late next week before I get my (new) new ice cream maker. On the bright side, a conversation with a new friend last night inspired me to hunt down a recipe for Maple Walnut Ice Cream, which might just be my next batch...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Scream, You Scream...

The first batch of ice cream is here!

I didn't have a very hard time choosing my first ice cream recipe of the summer: Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream. Baskin-Robbins used to have a Raspberry Cheesecake flavor I loved, berries are in high season right now, and I've had this recipe stashed away for a couple years - it all just seemed to come together.

What I didn't realize when I chose this particular recipe was that it's eggless and no-cook - a combination I have no experience with when it comes to ice cream-making. I didn't put those pieces together until I'd already bought all the ingredients and was all set to start making the base. And really, once I get it in my head that I'm making ice cream, and I have all the ingredients set out and I'm thinking, "Ice cream in a few hours! Ice cream in a few hours!" there's no going back. So eggless, no-cook Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream it was. Below is the original recipe, with my notes in parentheses.

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

For cheesecake ice cream:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups half and half
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For raspberry swirl:
12 oz. fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar

Let cream cheese soften slightly and beat with an electric mixer. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk, while beating on low speed (I can't stress how important it is to thoroughly combine these before adding the half and half). Add the half and half, beating on lowest speed. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. (Check to make sure mixture is thoroughly combined and there are no cream cheesy lumps.) Cover the bowl and chill for about an hour, or until very cold. (I placed a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream mixture, to keep it from forming a skin.)

In the meantime, place the raspberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Let sit until the raspberries release some of their juices. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Freeze the ice cream mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-proof container. Remove the raspberries from the fridge. Pour the raspberries and any juice over the ice cream. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a blunt knife to swirl the raspberries throughout the ice cream. Cover tightly and freeze for several hours to harden.

Keeps well for about 2 weeks.

And here are the results:

A bowl full of yum.
Overall, this was exactly the raspberry cheesecake-y ice cream experience I was looking for. There are a couple things I'd do differently, though. Even though I let the berries sit and macerate as directed, they still more or less retained their shape and were pretty, well, crunchy in the frozen ice cream. I think in the future, I'd probably puree about 3/4 of the berries, strain through a sieve, reduce to a syrupy consistency on the stovetop and then combine with the remaining 1/4 of the whole berries (maybe chop them roughly?), to give it a slightly smoother texture.

Also, I made the mistake of freezing it in a glass container. I didn't really think about the insulating properties of glass and that this would slow the freezing process. It made for a slightly soupy mess on my counter when transferring the ice cream to the container, and definitely slowed freezing time. Next time I'll be sure to use plastic.

The other thing I felt like this was missing was one of my favorite parts of cheesecake: the graham cracker crust. I suppose I could bake a graham cracker crust, break it into chunks, freeze it, and then stir it into the ice cream before freezing. Or I could take the lazy route, buy a store-bought graham cracker pie crust, and crumble that in. Or I could just do this:

Surely you're familiar with the frozen treat that is the ice cream sandwich?

Problem officially solved.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Project Ass-pansion 2011

My plans for this year's One Big Thing are faltering. Juliette got awfully expensive this spring (more expensive than my Mexican beach vacation!), and that coupled with buying new tires for my car put a serious dent in my funds available for fall travel. This (along with a few other things) has me pretty bummed out. I was really looking forward to a few weeks in Spain and Portugal in September or October. Even though I hadn't yet made any firm plans, I still feel a little robbed. I briefly considered doing a long weekend somewhere a little closer to home, like Montreal, but now I'm thinking it might be better to save my money and shoot for a European adventure next spring instead.

In the meantime, I need a new project. I've sworn off boys in men's clothing (who, I promise you, would be such catches if I could just invest a little time helping them grow and mature and replace their love of video games and comic books with more grown-up pursuits!), so that's not an option. Besides, I was imagining something with a bit more immediate return on investment. So now I'm thinking... ice cream. Small batches of interesting flavors, perhaps culminating in an end-of-summer ice cream social with my friends. Concoctions like Lemon Verbena, and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. And maybe I'll finally recreate the Rosemary-Brown Butter Ice Cream I once had at La Condesa - the most amazing ice cream EVER.

I'll have to work hard to make and eat a bunch of ice creams and not gain a ton of weight, which is where my willing guinea pigs - er, tastetesters - will come into play. So get in line, local friends. I'm going to need your "help."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not Really a Fourth of July Post

Unless you count the fact that it was written and published on the Fourth of July. In which case, I guess it is.

I hope you all enjoy your Fourth of July the way the Founding Fathers intended: by drinking too much beer, overcooking your food over an open flame, and then watching things explode. I'll be doing all of those, as well as going off to the movies to see the new documentary, Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times. Why? Because I'm a nerd. Duh.

On a totally unrelated note, I've been reading a lot of The Ruckus lately and thoroughly enjoying all their music recommendations. They recently turned me on to Frank Turner, who is amazing. There's a little snippet below. Hang in there past the instrumental opening - it's worth it.

Enjoy, and have a happy, safe Fourth of July!

Can't see the player above? Click here.