Now that summer is in full swing, it is nice to go out for a stroll to the local ice cream parlor to get a refreshing scoop of your favorite ice cream or sorbet. With all the crazy combinations of flavors you can choose from it is nice to know that the two most popular are still chocolate and vanilla. It is nice to know that real ice cream is being made and sold commercially, but the price for a truly good ice cream is not cheap. One alternative is to make it yourself.
It is not difficult to do if you have the right equipment, mainly an ice cream machine. You can purchase a manual ice cream churn, which consists of a bucket made of wooden slats with a metal sleeve inside. A set of metal blades that rotate inside the sleeve when turned using an external crank. Packed around the sleeve is ice and rock salt to slowly chill the cream mixture till it freezes into ice cream. The easier way to do this is purchase an electric ice cream churn. There are many different kinds, ranging from $40 to several hundred dollars.
One of the less expensive ones is an insert that is placed in your freezer for 4-6 hours. It is then filled with the ice cream mixture and placed on top of the motorized churn with blades that fit into the sleeve. It is turned on and the sleeve spins and slowly freezes the cream mixture into ice cream. The only draw back with this type of machine is you can only make one batch of ice cream at a time before having to stick the sleeve back into the freezer for 4-6 hours.
The best type of ice cream you can make is the "French" ice cream. This is done by making a Crme Anglaise. An egg yolk, sugar and cream custard. This produces a rich, creamy, full-bodied ice cream reminiscent of the old days. To this you can add a variety of different ingredients to produce other flavors. Ex. chocolate, praline, coffee, fresh fruit, fruit puree, nuts, cookies or liqueurs.
Sorbets are used to cleanse the palate, or as a light refreshing dessert that rounds off an evening summer meal. A good sorbet should have a smooth, icy texture, tart sweetness and a delicate flavor. They are easy to prepare and are usually made from a fruit puree (all though any flavor can be made limited by your imagination). Using the same machine you would to make ice cream, you would substitute the sorbet mixture and churn.
Below are two recipes: one for Lemon Sorbet and one for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Remember by substituting or combining different ingredients, you can create a wide variety of Ice Creams and Sorbets.
1 lemon peel finely grated
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cup flat mineral water
Combine water and sugar in a pot and heat just enough to dissolve sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and chill. Once chilled pour into ice cream churn and follow instuctions on machine.
Makes 6 servings.
French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean split(1 tblsp extract)
tiny pinch of salt
Beat the yolks and sugar till light, thick and pale yellow. It should form a ribbon when you pull the beaters out of the mixture and draw over the mixture.
Scald the cream and slowly temper it into the yolk mixture.
Place that mixture over a gentile double boiler and stir till it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.(about 170 degrees)
Remove from the heat and chill in an ice bath.
Pull out the vanilla bean and scrape the inside. Add it to the ice cream mixture.
When cold pour into the ice cream churn and follow directions on the machine.