I love ice cream. No, I mean I really love ice cream. I love ice cream so much that I ditched our ancient, puny, barely-functioning refrigerator and bought a new refrigerator because the old one wouldn't freeze my ice cream canister. I even had to rip out two of the six cabinets in our kitchen to fit a normal-sized refrigerator. No, I swear it's true.
I decided that if I was going to go to such lengths for ice cream, then the next step would be to figure out how to maximize the potential of my electric ice cream maker. It's a Cuisinart. It gets really good reviews, and it does work well as long as you use it correctly. After much trial and error, here are the steps that I found were crucial:
1) Freeze the hell out of the canister and don't take it out of the freezer until you are completely set up and ready to freeze your creamy delight.
2) Everything should be prepared in advance. The ice cream base needs to be super cold. The machine should be on the work surface, plugged in. Have an ice cream receptacle (that you will transfer the semi-frozen treat into) ready along with some plastic wrap. Get a rubber spatula.
3) Your adrenaline should kick in at this point. Everything needs to be done quickly. Run to the freezer, grab the canister, slam it onto the machine base, put the beater into place, put on the top, turn on the machine, and then pour in your base.
4) Okay, now you can relax, sit back, have a glass of wine, make some chocolate sauce, whatever. Just keep that motor running for about 30 minutes. Once your base starts to resemble ice cream, you need to start moving quickly again. Use the spatula to get it into the receptacle. Seal it with a kiss, or plastic wrap, and toss it into the freezer for a little while to firm up.
Of course, none of this matters if you don't have a good recipe. Personally, I prefer French-style custard ice cream, rich with egg yolks and cream. If you are even thinking of substituting skim milk for the cream, don't bother making the ice cream. Gelato is a whole different story (don't worry, I'll get to that in another IC Chron). Which is what leads me to my new favorite ice cream recipe: Meyer lemon ice cream. (Yes, ice cream is seasonal, good for all seasons, and just as delicious in the winter as it is in the heat of the summer--you just have to crank up the heat and snuggle under a blanket to enjoy it).
Kim's Meyer Lemon Ice Cream
4 large Meyer lemons, preferably organic
1 pint heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
5 large egg yolks, preferably organic
Scant 1 cup granulated sugar
Use a sharp peeler to remove only the colored part of the lemon zest from 2 lemons, in large strips. Try not to remove the bitter white pith, but if you do, you can use a small, sharp knife to scrape it off. In a saucepan, gently heat the cream and milk just until steaming and small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Use the small knife to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod and add the pod, seeds, and lemon zest strips to the warm cream. Remove from the heat, cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes.
Place a medium-sized bowl inside a large bowl filled with ice water. Set aside.
In a clean saucepan, heat 1-2 inches of water over medium heat until simmering. Using a balloon whisk, in a heatproof bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth and very pale yellow. Reheat the cream mixture just until it begins to steam, but before it boils, and then slowly pour it in stages through a fine-mesh sieve into the yolk mixture, whisking as you add it (it's easier if you ask someone to help you with this step). Stir the mixture together thoroughly and then place the bowl on top of the saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture slowly until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (or reaches 185F/85C). Be careful of the steam when you remove the bowl from the saucepan. Pour the ice cream base into the medium bowl (the one set in the larger bowl of ice water). Use a fine zester (a microplane works best) to zest the remaining two lemons into the base. Stir and let the base cool to room temperature. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the top of the base, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
When you are ready to make the ice cream, juice the 4 Meyer lemons and strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir the juice into the ice cream base. Review the steps of setting up the ice cream maker (esp if you have a Cuisinart like I do) and then freeze the ice cream according to the manufacturer's directions (or mine). Scrape the base into an airtight container and freeze for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!