Summer means ice cream in our house, but since a pint of Haagen Dazs is running for almost $4 in the store, summer means big, creamy quart-sized batches of homemade ice cream -- the flavors tailored to our preferences (extra chocolate chips!) and the cost a fraction of the store price. More importantly, if you can make an ice cream base, you can also play Ben and Jerry's and develop your own signature ice cream flavors.
There are two simple bases you'll need to master in order to start building your own ice cream flavors, as well as a small sense of the order of ingredients. Powdery ingredients -- such as cinnamon or coffee -- need to be incorporated during the cooking phase. Harder ingredients -- such as nuts, chocolate, or even caramel -- need to be incorporated during the churning stage. Let your imagination go wild, but I've started you off with a few ideas of flavors to incorporate into your base.
Here's a video to watch before you get started to help you see the different stages of your vanilla base.
1 cup of milk (I use skim)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups of light cream
Start by warming up your milk in a pan over medium heat. You want to make sure that the heat isn't higher than medium because the milk will scorch and stick to the bottom of the pan.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs.
When the milk is warm, add the milk to the egg mixture, incorporate the two together well with the whisk, and then return the milk/egg/sugar base to the pot.
Place on medium heat and continuously stir until the mixture begins to resemble liquid pudding. You won't see a change in consistency until small bubbles start quaking under the surface. When those bubbles become larger and more frequent, you'll see the mixture start to thicken. It should take another three or four minutes to get to that liquid pudding consistency after those big bubbles begin.
Take special care to keep stirring and to not allow the mixture to truly boil. You're aiming to create a smooth custard -- not scrambled eggs in scorched milk.
Remove the custard-like mixture from the heat and allow it to rest in the pan for 20-30 minutes while it cools. After 30 minutes, whisk in the vanilla and light cream and transfer the cool liquid to a storage container and set it inside the refrigerator to get cold (2-4 hours).
Pour into your ice cream maker and start the mixture churning. It usually takes mine 20 minutes until the ice cream is thick enough to add in additional flavors. This is the time to look down the list and get creative. Think which ice cream flavors you tend to buy at the store and peruse ice cream store sites to get ideas for flavor combinations.
You can also make a chocolate base.
Start with 1 cup of milk, 2/3 cup of sugar, and 1 egg. Whisk together within the pan over that medium heat until the same thing starts to happen -- it slowly reaches that liquid pudding state. Stir in 1/3 cup of cocoa powder and remove from the heat for 20-30 minutes. When you return to your mixture, whisk in 2 cups of light cream and 1 tsp of vanilla. Place it in the refrigerator to cool and churn 4 hours later, adding in your original flavor add-ins.
Our house flavor of the summer is a salted caramel ice cream with chocolate chunks. We're still trying to come up with the perfect name to describe it.
So, what flavor are you going to design to be your signature flavor this summer?
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