ice cream

Experiments in Milk Kefir.

A few years ago, I became overzealous with cultured foods.  I tried culturing everything from leftovers to condiments, and had buttermilk, yogurt, kombucha, and several types of experimental vinegars (not to mention the sourdough) all vying for attention around the kitchen.  Slowly, a few of the cultures lost their "oomph", victims I'm guessing of cross-contamination.  I began to streamline my cultured life, focusing on the things that I loved most and were most practical for me to continue with, and by default reducing the amount of stress of caring for all of the little “children” with varying needs and schedules.

First to go was buttermilk.  I loved making homemade buttermilk, but with yogurt also being made, I couldn’t justify keeping both – especially when the best quality milk I can find runs me $4.50 per half gallon.  I never drank plain buttermilk either, so I was keeping it solely for baking purposes.  Yogurt filled in this gap nicely, especially when I found a no-heat, Scandinavian culture at Cultures for Health called viili.  I loved it completely, and used it exclusively for about a year and a half until it died out on me.  I tried to restart it from some extra dehydrated, and didn’t have any luck.  I took to buying some local yogurt that was made from non-organic but also non-homogenized milk, and it was so good that for the last year I just called it good enough.  I was nice to have the break from weekly worry, even though it only took seconds to perpetuate the culture.  With a new baby on the way it just seemed refreshing not to do every little thing myself and to take it “easy” while I still could.

soaked soda bread
Kefir soaked soda bread: click the photo for recipe... 

Maybe because this winter got so long, I started feeling lonely for additional culture in my life.  I tried again to reactivate some powdered viili yogurt culture without luck.  Is there too much sourdough in my atmosphere around here?  After the arrival of Tartine #3 and the many recipes in it using milk kefir, I decided this was my new solution to a probiotic, milk-like baking and drinking medium.  Holly L. sent me a loving start from Minneapolis back in February, and every 24 hours since I’ve been harvesting a cupful of milk kefir.

The milk kefir grains are healthy and multiplying, and from what I’ve read the symbiotic relationship between the bacteria and yeasts (similar to kombucha) create more priobiotic punch in the finished product than a standard yogurt or buttermilk containing bacteria strains alone.  Mostly I culture whole milk, but culturing heavy cream is superior, and it’s good in absolutely everything – particularly as an ingredient in baked goods and stirred last minute into soups.  It seems to bake up heavier than yogurt or buttermilk however; there is a learning curve for me as I go about converting.

whole wheat kefir banana bread.
Whole Wheat Kefir Banana Bread - another recipe link if you click the photo!

Last week, I decided it’s been too long since I’d made ice cream and I was itching to try one made with milk kefir as a main part of the base.  On internet perusal, most people either heated the kefir or omitted the eggs – but I wanted no heat to come to my kefir and I wanted an egg yolk base to my frozen concoction.  I compromised my technique, heating 4 egg yolks with a small amount of whole milk to the 170 degree mark, then combining it with cold heavy cream and whole milk kefir.  The result was a mildly tangy, probiotic rich ice cream that I loved.  It was creamier and more like soft serve after about 2 hours in the freezer, and then slowly morphed into a more icy, crystalline structure that was still soft enough to scoop.  A week later, it’s still delicious!

milk kefir ice cream

This milk kefir ice cream seems to have a naturally lemony taste, which could be enhanced by including some zest if you like that sort of thing… I actually added a tiny bit of almond extract which lends a pleasant bitter note in the aftertaste.  I would omit that if playing up the citrus zest.

Milk Kefir Ice Cream (inspired by recipes from David Lebovitz and the Bojon Gourmet)
yields about 1 quart
  • 1 1/4 c. whole milk kefir
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. almond extract (optional)
Combine kefir and heavy cream in a large bowl or quart jar.  Beat the egg yolks briefly in a small bowl and set aside. To a small sauce pan, combine whole milk and the granulated and brown sugars and heat over medium heat stirring with a spatula until the sugars melt. Temper the egg yolks with the warm milk, then add them to the saucepan.  Increase the heat a bit, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just thickens (or until the temperature reaches 170 degrees).  Pour into the large bowl or jar with the kefir and heavy cream, add the vanilla and optional almond extract and stir well.  Chill thoroughly, preferably for 24-48 hours, before churning in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions.

milk kefir scones
That's a good amount of the new local flour I just discovered from Lonesome Stone Milling.  I can't be more excited to begin baking with Wisconsin grown and milled organic flour...

Last Friday, I used milk kefir cream in the Tartine #3 recipe for whole grain scones, the recipe I'd had my eye on since first cracking that book open, and probably the one that made me anxious to start my own milk kefir culturing in the first place. I made my version with Cara Cara orange zest and some of the blackberries I had hoarded in my freezer since last summer.  Without a doubt, they were the messiest endeavor I'd ever encountered, but the result was thankfully more than worth it.

milk kefir scones

I cut 16 scones instead of 12 (which would have been massive in my opinion), and froze them all.  The point of scones to me is baking them from the freezer, and these passed this test.  They might not have been quite as flaky as baked fresh after forming, but they were perfect.  Not too sweet, flaky and crisp on the outside - I was so pleased that I had kept the blackberries for such a worthy pastry.  (When baking scones from frozen, I give them about 40 minutes at room temperature before they go into the hot oven.  I look for just being able to indent them with my fingertip - signaling that they aren't frozen completely solid.  With high butter content, this time frame usually is about right.)

milk kefir scones

I'm far from finished working out new projects with milk kefir.  On my short list: pancakes (subbing for buttermilk in my basic recipe made for flapjacks a little on the dense side), non-banana quick breads, and another ice cream built entirely on kefir cream.  All in all, the new culture on my block seems easily at home after just a few short weeks - and it seems to inspire me to get back to a few other long lost ferments. 

Pineapple Ice Cream, Steaming Bread.


All severe budgeting aside, I insist upon many things in my daily food life. Bulk foods are a deal, but seem to add up quickly when every cent is a factor, and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables all of a sudden feel overpriced and usually from Mexico or California. I usually feel this way in late Spring, just before planting time in my own garden, and just before the onset of near-daily farm markets scattered across our city.

Not everything is feels expensive and dim however. Fortunately, when I start seeing reliably good, whole pineapples consistently on sale, I figure they must be in season in tropical locals - and they have been so ridiculously sweet that they indeed seem worth their weight in gold. Earlier in the week, my nose told me that I had to break into the stately bromeliad in residence on my counter, when I still had some juicy triangles of yellow fruit at home in a quart jar in the fridge. I originally was thinking of cake, but in continuing attempts at curbing my sugar-tooth, I settled on ice cream sweetened only with honey (and an obligatory 2 T. of sugar just in case).

(I chopped up the scraps seen in the photo above for easier introduction to the compost pile, and then realized I should have tried my hand at pineapple vinegar. Good thing the pineapples are still on sale...)

pineapple ice cream

Here in Wisconsin, everyone - or nearly everyone - is crazy for frozen custard. I'm not saying anything bad about custard, other than that eating it feels to me more like a meal replacement than a dessert. I have always preferred ice creams to dessert, in fact I actually would rather have "ice milk", which is hard to find commercially, but crystalline and easy melting (if not initially hard as a rock) when it emerges homemade from your freezer.

pineapple ice cream, toasted topped

And so I made a pineapple ice milk, a moniker I feel this frozen dessert deserves due to its texture if not its fat content. It's definitely a recipe I will make again. Toast some unsweetened coconut in a dry, cast iron skillet - and then use the residual heat to bring some cacao nibs gently back to life for a most excellent topping.

Pineapple Ice Milk (adapted from Gourmet)
  • 12 oz. fresh pineapple, pulsed in a blender or food processor to "crushed" consistency, then drained - juice reserved
  • 6 T. honey
  • 2 T. sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • pinch of salt if you deem it needs it

Reserve 1 T. of the pineapple juice to mix with the cornstarch, and combine the rest of the juice, the crushed pineapple, and honey in a medium pan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and reducing heat after the pineapple comes to a simmer. Simmer until softened a little, about 5 minutes. Stir the 1 T. pineapple juice with the cornstarch in a little cup and then add to the simmering crushed pineapple, stirring constantly until it thickens a little, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar to combine. In a smaller pan, heat the milk until little bubbles start to form around the edges, but the milk isn't boiling. Add a bit of milk to the egg yolks to temper them, then add them to the hot milk. Stir constantly to prevent cooking the eggs, and continue to heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens (about 170 degrees). Remove from heat.

Set a sieve over the pan with the thickened pineapple in it. Pour the thickened milk through the sieve and into the pineapple and discard any eggy bits left behind. Stir in the vanilla and heavy cream, transfer to a clean bowl or jar, and let rest in the fridge until completely chilled (at least 4 hours and up to overnight). Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions.

steamed date bread, in tin

Maybe my inner being was crying out for "cake and ice cream", or maybe I was just trying to be a good steward of the leftover cup of heavy cream that remained after making the ice milk. I originally added the cream to some milk, and made a high-fat yogurt. Well, tried to make a high-fat yogurt, since it never really set. I suspect I didn't let it culture long enough, but it tasted good and was the thickness of buttermilk. Multiple factors led me to making another steamed bread.

I only made steamed bread once before, which seems to differ from steamed pudding (the only one I've ever made was for a Daring Baker Challenge) in that it is extremely lean and devoid of sugar. The first recipe I made was Hungry Tigress's, and it was just perfect according to me. Not sweet, very earthy, close-crumbed and moist yet dense, it was one of the nicest little breads, one that I actually considered a cake due to shape and how I ate it copiously slathered in rhubarb-ginger jam.

I altered a recipe in a 1940's cookbook that was very similar to Tigress's recipe. I made a half recipe, since the full one was very large (with 4 cups of flour), and because Tigress's blend of rye and whole wheat flours with cornmeal made such an intriguing flavor, I could bear to use plain all purpose for the whole recipe. I also subbed in my "cream yogurt/buttermilk" to feel, which led to a recipe really not worth recording. I will say it was not unlike the bread I first made, so go immediately to Hungry Tigress and make yourself a steamed walnut bread, substitute some pitted dates for the walnuts, and you will basically have the delicious version that came off of my stove top yesterday afternoon.

steamed date bread
steamed date bread

And, yes, I did eat that wedge above with a little scoop of pineapple ice cream after dinner last night - and it was delicious.

Steaming bread is a technique I want to explore more, and one that if the weather holds in a cool, damp pattern makes my kitchen laboratory feel comfortable and old-fashioned. Meanwhile, when basic home economics have me feeling blue, I remember my wealth in quality foods and can't stay sad for long. Before long, my yard (along with local markets) will sprout vigorously with all the inspiration and sustenance I need for a healthy life, and that is such a comforting thought these cloudy days.

Daring Bakers January 2011: Jaconde Imprime Entremets

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

I had never heard of this month's challenge. Essentially, it is a French sponge cake that has a pattern baked into it, and then it is cut and used in a mold to encase something delicious. Usually, this deliciousness is a pastry cream, mousse, or other similarly creamy concoction, perhaps sandwiched between layers of cake and topped off with whipped cream. Our challenge was to make the jaconde imprime (patterned cake), make it into a mold of our choosing, and to fill it with whatever we desired.

The cake itself is made from almond meal, a touch of flour and eggs, and is not particularly sweet. The imprime batter, or the dense foodstuff that is what forms the pattern, could have been made either with the cocoa powder as I did, or left plain and colored with food coloring. Since I am not in the food coloring camp, I decided on the chocolate version first. Then, I spent part of the month thinking about what to fill it with.

The jaconde (sponge cake) has 3 egg whites, and 3 eggs in it and the imprime batter has 6 or 7 (I used weight measurements) egg whites in it. I couldn't bear the thought of making an egg-heavy cream to fill the petite desserts, especially since it may be awhile until I get back to my egg supplier. I could, however get behind the thought of the leftover orange cream cheese frosting from the cupcakes I made for New Year's Eve...

It would not be a lie to say that I figured that an ice cream made from this frosting would be the best one I've ever made. The frosting was on the sweet side, and my favorite (non-custard) ice cream base I usually leave less sweet. The marriage of the two would be one for the record books, I naturally assumed, and I assumed correctly. It took a couple of days to get truly hardened in the freezer, but still maintains the softness and creaminess that this ice cream base is usually lacking due to it's absence of egg yolks. What better to fill a cake with than icy-creamy orange and walnuts?

It bears noting that I would most certainly make a batch of this frosting just to use in this ice cream. I am famous for having all sorts of leftover frostings in my fridge, after all they nearly never go bad with all of the sugar they contain. If you would make the frosting solely for the purpose of the ice cream (and not to indulge first in Champagne Cupcakes), I would probably make a half batch. Unless you are thinking ahead and would like leftovers.

Orange Cream Cheese and Walnut Ice Cream (adapted from David Leibovitz via Burp!, Epicurious, and rcakewalk)
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. milk (I use 2%)
  • scant 1/2 c. sugar (I use raw)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • about 1 - 1 1/2 c. Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped into medium sized bits
In a small pan, heat 1 c. of the heavy cream with sugar and salt over medium heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl.

Pour remaining 1 c. heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract into heated milk mixture and stir to combine. Place in refrigerator, and chill until well chilled. (This can be up to two days, or as quickly as an hour or two.)

Churn ice cream in machine according to manufacturer's instruction. I have this model, and it takes about 20-25 minutes to get fairly firm. (The ice cream will harden in the freezer, essentially the machine is churning air into it.)

When the ice cream is nearly done, add the cream cheese frosting in dollops, and continue churning about 10 minutes for it to fully incorporate and get a bit firmer. (Even though I used leftover frosting that was cold from the refrigerator, it still brought the temperature of the ice cream down, and looked at first like it was not going to freeze into a hard ice cream.) Just before transferring to a freezer safe bowl, add in the nuts and let them disperse evenly. Don't worry if it seems very soft.

Freeze for at least a day for best results. If you are eating it as is, it can be soft set in several hours.

A day or two after making (and trying not to sneak spoonfuls of) the ice cream, I commenced with the rest of the challenge. The imprime batter that would become the pattern of the cake was very thick, and also not too sweet. I decided that I would pipe a haphazard design onto my silicone mat, including my rcakewalk signature... can you see it?

I let it sit in the freezer for 30 minutes when I prepared the sponge. The sponge was easy, and tasty enough if not highly flavorful. The batter, however, seemed very loose and I wasn't sure it would bake properly. I have made other sponges, and when making this again I would probably go with a batter that is a bit more dry. It did bake at a higher temperature, so perhaps baking at lower heat would have solved my problem?

sponge over the design.

baked about 9 minutes.

Even though I had high hopes, I already knew that the sponge was kind of uncooked in the middle. It felt soft and springy, and was properly browned, but after I let it cool about 5 minutes and tried to carefully peel off the silicone:

It was damp - even falling apart - in the middle, but the edges were baked perfectly dry and fairly flexible. I considered trying to re-bake it, but it was already sticking to my confectioner sugar covered parchment paper so I decided to salvage what I could for the challenge's sake and move along with my life.

cooked edge, nice and sponge-like.

From the entire sheet pan, I was able to use just the edges to get two small desserts. I figured this was fine with me, since I've come to realize that the challenges are more of a learning process for me and that usually it's a bonus when something is tasty and works well. I also knew that given my flavor choices, my boys wouldn't be knocking me over to get to it either. Two little desserts that can be stored in my freezer, out of temptation's way, sounded just about right to me...

I prepared my egg rings into molds.

Carefully, I was able to cut the sides of my fragile cake. I also pieced together a bottom, and pressed it firmly to form a base. I froze the cake rings overnight, and the next day "molded" the cake into submission a little more. Then, I took scoops of ice cream, softened it in my hands, and molded it into the centers. I mounded more ice cream up over the top, relying on the parchment that extended above my rings to keep it in place. When the ice cream froze hard, I smoothed the top with a hot knife and popped it back into the freezer. Meanwhile, I used some leftover tempered chocolate from my Christmas baking to make squiggly designs for the tops.

When it was finally time to taste all of the components working together, I realized the cake is a decorative, supporting member of this union. Further, I noticed that my tempered chocolate garnish was not just artistic, it actually lent a much needed chocolate note to my finished dessert. The walnuts added crunch to the middles, and the cake is so thin that it defrosts quickly when removed from the freezer. Surprisingly, this is probably one of the best desserts I've ever made! I'm actually looking forward to trying to find a better way to bake the sponge; maybe I will be able to learn more after looking at more Daring Baker results!

One last "problem" I had was that the joconde imprime batter (the chocolate decoration part) made a huge amount. I could have tried to make another sponge, but truthfully, I just wanted to clean up the kitchen and be done with it. I put it in the fridge to think about what could be done.

Then I thought of my boys, who would most definitely appreciate chocolate cupcakes a little more than sophisticated French entremets. Using one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant's Book of Desserts that I amped up with a bit of cinnamon, I dropped truffle-sized balls into the middles of the cupcakes. They baked their normal 20 minutes, and then I let them cool down before examining and tasting them. The chocolate middles sank to the bottom, turning into an almost brownie base. I'm thinking if I would add some cayenne to them prior to rolling, I may have been happier with the flavor, and maybe I can try this since I froze the remaining imprime in balls.

But actually, when I tried a cupcake later in the day with a scoop of Orange Cream Cheese and Walnut Ice Cream I was really on to something. Cinnamon, chocolate and orange: my new trinity of benevolent flavors. A pinch of cinnamon (spicy Saigon Cassia) may just find it's way into my next batch of orange ice cream...

Even though I was totally procrastinating the challenge this month, I am so happy with my results. They may not have been perfect, but I feel like I really learned a lot. If you are interested in exploring the recipes yourself, you can find them in the Daring Kitchen recipe archives. Thank you to Astheroshe for hosting a great challenge, and I can't wait to see what some of my favorite Daring Bakers have come up with!

Raw Vegan Monday: Banana "Ice Cream" Sandwiches

It started last week when I bought bananas that were not green enough, and bought too many of them. The whole lot of them ripened before I could get around to eating them, which meant they would meet their demise in the freezer. Bananas are tricky things, and most people have a short window of opportunity in which they prefer to enjoy one. Some, like my Mother, like them nearly green and some like them even more deeply spotted than the specimens above. I am rather picky about them when not adding them to a baked good (which then, I insist upon deep-speckledness), I dislike the green banana taste since it tends to remind me of the artificially flavored banana candies that I despise, like Runts, but I also dislike soft, mushy centered fruit the texture of pudding. Pure banana enjoyment is rather limited for me, though I can blend anything with homemade buttermilk or yogurt and drink it down without much trouble.

Fortunately, another banana bread or banana muffin was not in my future. As tasty as both of these options are, even in baked form, they tend to take up my freezer space as I forget that I've made them. Freshly made baked goods are fine, but due to my current personal situation including picky eating boys, I have to utilize my freezer to keep from growing my current size proportionally due to uneaten foods...

I remembered in my raw vegan readings that I have seen many many recipes for banana "ice creams", made simply by blending up frozen bananas into luxurious soft-serve. Sickly sweet overripe (at least overripe in my opinion) bananas lose that some of that velvety soft-serve mouthfeel in the freezer, but they also lose their cloying edge. For any fan of crystalline ice creams, frozen bananas offer a no-fat, no-dairy alternative wonderland, yet banana ice cream wasn't good enough for me. I found and adapted a more portable result - and one that I certainly won't forget is waiting for me in the freezer: Raw Vegan Banana "Ice Cream" Sandwiches.

The original recipe is from Veggie Wedgie, a very nice vegan site with great photography. I had to adapt it just a bit, due to my nature of adaptation, and ingredients at hand. I will also say that if you are looking to make photo-worthy sandwiches, work quickly and transfer each sandwich to the freezer as soon as it is assembled. Banana ice cream melts unbelievably quick.

Raw Vegan Banana "Ice Cream" Sandwiches (adapted from Veggie Wedgie)

  • 200 g/7 oz. dates (I used 8 oz.)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 c. rolled oats ground into oat flour (I measure the oats, then grind)
  • 3 T. coconut concentrate
  • 2 T. agave syrup
  • 1/4 c. water (add this 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough sticks together)
"Ice Cream":
  • 5 bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen (in the future I will mash and freeze them, to facilitate blending in inferior blending equipment...)
  • vanilla seeds, scraped from a vanilla pod - or extract if you aren't fully raw (about 1 t.)
To make the cookies, combine all the ingredients in a food processor, and blend until a dough is starting to come together. I think I had more oats than the original recipe called for, and I added a full 1/4 cup of water to get it to stick together. You want to be able to roll it out on a sheet pan lined with parchment or waxed paper, so go by feel. Cut shapes, I used 2 1/4 inch circles, and freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan for at least an hour to harden them up.

When ready to assemble, blend the bananas and vanilla in a blender, food pro, immersion blender or by hand. I used a combination of food pro and blender, and still had trouble getting the larger chunks of banana to break down. I do have a VitaMix jar filling with cold hard cash to remedy this unfortunate situation. I used the 2 1/4 cutter to stand in as a sandwich mold, and spooned in a small amount of banana on top of a round of cookie. Then, I pressed the center with a toothpick to help it release and added the top cookie after it was unmolded. They looked gorgeous coming out of the molds, but within minutes, were melting like crazy. I transferred them to the freezer, and they firmed up again in about 20 minutes. I got about 14 sandwiches, but the leftover "cookie dough" is good eaten on it's own. Even the picky Boy-O thought so!

This ice cream sandwich is light, and does taste like bananas - but in the best, non-artificial way possible. I love icy ice cream, and this was deliciously icy, too. I like that they are keeping well in the freezer: I wrapped them individually in waxed paper, and laid them in an airtight container for precautionary freezer-burn measures, but I doubt they are going to last long enough to have to contend with that.

The Best Ice Cream in The Whole World.

I should preface my remarks of The Best Ice Cream in The Whole World, since that is a pretty big blanket of a statement for me to declare. I am reminded when I see my Parents that when I like something, I frequently clarify them as being the best things in the whole world. Granted, most of them are foods or usually desserts, but as a lifelong ice cream connoisseur, I can assure you that at least in my mouth, this one takes the supreme title.

My story really begins back February, when Lo posted her family recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Schaum Torte. (You can read all about it, and the contest it was entered in here.) I had eaten similar confections called Pavlovas or Sheet Meringues, but never had even heard of this German immigrant version. Of course the Burp! Kitchen added chocolate, which makes it the king of all egg foam cakes, hands down, in my book. I ate more of this cake in February and March than I ever have in my life (or as my Parents would confirm that I also often say: My Whole Life). I ate it first at Il Mito, where it was featured for a week on their menu - the profits of doing so benefiting the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee. The next day, it so happened that I ate it at a lunch at MATC Cuisine dining, where it was fairly "squoodgy" in the center. Squoodginess is the hallmark of a great Schaum Torte according to my personal Schaum Torte Academy: Burp! Kitchen. After a week passed, I ate it again at a soup nite they hosted, and it was the best of the best I have ever eaten. Both achingly and angelically sweet, yet light, and yes, squoodgy. I finally knew why this term was used to describe it, since this simple to make egg foam cake is close to divine perfection when baked gently in a springform pan. I made my own for Easter, and figured I really shouldn't devour the entire thing myself (which I was certainly on the way to doing). I scooped out it's fluffy, mallowy middle and froze heaping tablespoons full on a sheet of parchment, to wait for the appropriate time to make it into an ice cream.

Don't you know, that in the course of a month in the freezer, the half of a Schaum Torte shockingly decreased in size? Partly, because the cold compressed it, and partly because I had to taste it, to make sure it wasn't going bad or anything.

Last week, I made the Daring Baker Challenge, which was kind of altered to better serve my dessert eating needs. It is currently nestled in the freezer, half-eaten, and waiting to be unearthed and served with a scoop of this delectable ice cream on the side. I was suspecting it needed just a little something... and this my friends is it. You'll have to check back on the 27th to read all about it.

Meanwhile, you can have a look at the ice cream:

Since Lo has really become my personal expert source for things exactly like ice cream (since she has made some pretty amazing ones), I asked her which plain vanilla ice cream was one of her favorites. She immediately emailed back that it was this one by David Leibovitz. I have read a bit of David's blog from time to time, but never have tried one of his ice creams. This one is my ideal ice cream: light, crystalline and easy melting. Devoid of egg, it is easy to put together and even easier to eat.

David Leibovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 c. sugar (I used a scant 1/2 cup)
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla bean
  • 3/4 t. vanilla extract
Heat 1 cup of the cream with sugar, salt and vanilla bean (I used a leftover bean, so I used the whole pod, you can scrape out the seeds if you are using a new bean) over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat, and add remaining cream, milk and vanilla extract.

That's it! Cool it in the fridge - I left mine overnight - for 20 minutes if you like and then churn using whichever method you prefer. (Nigella Lawson has made a similar no-churn ice cream for those without ice cream makers: I would substitute some confectioner's sugar for granulated, and use only the heavy cream. Beat the cream to soft peaks, and freeze. Not really proper "ice cream", but delicious nonetheless and worth trying if you are in a hurry or without mechanization.)

The first spoonful reminded me of the time my family was invited to churn ice cream with our Amish neighbors. We brought ice, and they had everything else ready. We all took turns cranking the non-electric maker in the gentle, kerosene light of their home until this amazing, soft-set cream emerged. It was so good and vanilla-y and the ice crystals that marked my machined effort yesterday are exactly the same as this one I first tried nearly 20 years ago. I was half tempted to pop some popcorn, since this is how our Amish friends ate ice cream - piled high in soup bowls, served alongside equally big bowls of freshly popped and salted popcorn.

Of course, my ice cream wasn't finished in it's vanilla state, though it certainly could have been. When it was nearly done, I spooned in the remaining Schaum Torte (a little more than a cup). I could smell the little engine turning inside, making me remember how old my little appliance actually is. E sent me my ice cream maker for a Christmas present when I was living in Wilton, in the year 2000. Can I believe that this small kitchen appliance is a full ten years old? Can I also believe that one of my best friends could send me something that amazingly cool? Nope. I remember walking back to the Pie Shop Apartment with a huge box one cold December day, and opening it in GOP's company.

As I plugged it in yesterday, I was surprised at the flood of memories that returned to me and also noted that my Rise Against the Machines isn't going very well. I did hang the clothesline, and my ex-Navy Father-in-Law came to work some knot magic (knot tying is totally on my list of things to learn) on the lines, so that they will never go anywhere. I'd bet I could go to a chin up on those lines and bring down the pole before I'd snap the knot loose. But machines aside, I'm glad I got this batch of ice cream done without burning out the motor.

I felt like a drug addict: spooning cold dollops of this amazing ice cream into my mouth as fast as it was melting. I was hungry, but trying not to ruin my appetite by shoveling myself full of dessert in the late afternoon. I was half suspecting that like many things, the ice cream was at it's best right that moment, and freezing it would alter it for the worst. Fortunately, this isn't the case. I have a whole quart of this premium Schaum Torte Ice Cream languishing in my freezer, softly calling my name, and it is as soft-set as when I put it in there yesterday. Another thing for The List of Things I'll Never Buy Again: Ice Cream. Thank you very much Lo, and Mr. Leibovitz!