Friday, July 23, 2010

I Think This Is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Meet Loretta*, my pastel blue KitchenAid mixer. She has been my trusty sidekick throughout most of my baking (mis)adventures these past ten months. I don't know how I ever survived without her. Sure, I had an old Sunbeam mixer (a gift from a wonderful friend when he upgraded to a KitchenAid) that did a lot of the same functions, but because it was so very beige I kept it hidden away in a cupboard and didn't always bother to dig it out unless absolutely necessary. While I'm sure I built up some nice muscles from doing most of the stirring by hand in those days, I was thrilled when my birthday rolled around and I was able to combine a great sale with a rebate to finally snag my very own goofily-colored KitchenAid. As with all big ticket items that only I'm going to use I really had to talk myself into it but there's no doubt I've put mine to good use since then.

Is it just me or does the ice cream maker look like a legless Adipose from Doctor Who?

Like any fashion-forward young woman, she has a variety of accessories and now, thanks to a good price at Amazon a month ago, she even has a brand new one: an ice cream maker attachment. Grr, I actually now see that the price has dropped even further since then. So if you're in the market for one you can now grab it for $59. Much better than the $67 I paid. But even at that price I have to wonder what took me so long to get around to buying it. I am a homemade ice cream convert already! Oh, the things I can do with the power to not only control what goes into my ice cream, but also to control exactly what flavor I wind up with!

I'm hoping to make healthier versions in the future, perhaps even experiment with gelato, but the first recipe I tried does not fall into the category of healthy one bit. It was chosen mostly because it happened to arrive in my mailbox the same weekend I was already planning to make ice cream and because I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand, including exactly four egg yolks left over from another baking project. Plus I didn't want to use some fancy ingredients only to have the endeavor fail and wind up in the rubbish bin. Nutella ice cream will have to wait until I've perfected my skills.

I made Brown Sugar & Spiced Banana Ice Cream from a recipe in the current issue of ReadyMade magazine. You'll notice that it uses a lot of cream, which you can really taste in the final product. When I say it's creamy I'm not just talking about the texture but also the taste. I did use heavy cream instead of the whipping cream called for because that's what I had on hand. Apparently there's a slight difference between the two. If you're lucky enough to live in an area that offers both you'll probably want to pick up the slightly less fatty whipping cream for this one. The spices are lovely but, perhaps because I used extra potent Vietnamese cinnamon, completely overpower the banana flavor. In fact, my husband thought it was supposed to be pumpkin ice cream because the combination of spices is exactly what one would expect to find there. I doubt I'll make this one again without some major changes, but it was a good beginner recipe.

The attachment was extremely easy to use and I had no problems at all setting it up. I of course followed the instructions precisely even though it meant I had to wait while the ice cream bowl sat in the freezer overnight. And wait some more while the cooked custard cooled completely, about four hours. And even more waiting once the ice cream is churned because it still needs to chill in the freezer an additional three hours. So the process is definitely more time consuming than driving to the grocery store and picking up a carton and it's also more expensive, but I plan to go crazy coming up with unique flavors one can't find in the supermarket. I can see this as the beginning of a wonderful love affair with my ice cream maker.

There is a tragic footnote to this story: After I'd written this blog post I went home to discover that my husband had accidentally put the container of ice cream into the fridge after he scooped some out. Woe. :( I think he got confused due to the homemade nature of the ice cream and because the container it was in (a Ziploc plastic storage tub) is nothing like the cartons he's accustomed to. I suspect it's ruined but am hoping to rejuvenate it a bit in the freezer, at least back to the point of being edible. What a sad end to my first homemade ice cream experience.

Brown Sugar & Spiced Banana Ice Cream

Recipe from ReadyMade Magazine (June/July 2010 issue)

1 medium ripe banana
1/4 cup plus 1 3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Puree the banana and ¼ cup of the milk in a food processor until smooth.

2. Combine the banana puree, the remaining 1¾ cups milk, ½ cup brown sugar, the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Scald the milk mixture (heat nearly to a boil) over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

3. While the milk is scalding, whisk together the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ½ cup brown sugar and whisk until the eggs are light and fluffy. Whisking constantly, add a small amount of the hot milk to the egg mixture (to temper the eggs). Gradually whisk in the remaining hot milk.

4. Return the custard mixture to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and place in a bowl of ice water to quickly cool the custard. Let the custard cool, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, combine cream and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in the custard mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and press wrap directly onto the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. The custard may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

6. Freeze the chilled custard mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 2 to 4 hours before serving.

Makes about 1.5 quarts

*Alright, I'll admit I haven't actually named any of my kitchen appliances, but in an effort to make it seem more personable and likable to you I went ahead and put the first name that came to mind. Clearly I've spent too much time watching Monty Python's Life of Brian and it has irreparably warped my tiny little mind.

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laylablue said...

delightful! i am now wondering if i can justify purchasing (or begging for) a kitchenaid stand mixer if i throw in the option of using it to make ice cream...
your cupcakes look and sound fantastic!
thank you for sharing ;)
your blog is lovely. i plan to go back through your old posts

laylablue said...

oh, and i voted for you and your cupcakes!

Sourkraut said...

Thanks for the vote! The mixer's one of those things that I didn't know how much I needed it until I bought one. Now I use it all the time and don't know how I survived without it! The ice cream maker option is just an added perk as far as I'm concerned. I'm tempted to try the pasta maker attachment too but since I eat more ice cream than pasta that can wait.