We here at the blog love homemade ice cream. Heck, to be honest, we just love ice cream - it's just better when it's made at home with super high quality ingredients.
I remember making ice cream as a kid - with rock salt and a hand crank mixer. It blew. Maybe the ice cream was good - I really don't remember - but it sure wasn't worth the time standing there turning a crank for some ungodly amount of time.
We had an electric ice cream maker at one time, a very inexpensive one, and it did okay - until about the third or fourth time when it decided turning was just too much work. For the past year or so we had talked about getting a decent one, so when Williams-Sonoma dropped an email in the inbox saying if we bought the stainless steel version from Cuisinart they'd give us a $25 gift card, well, we splurged.
So here it is, the newest member of the MyNWX home kitchen:
So, we had the machine, now what? We picked the vanilla bean ice cream recipe out of the booklet that came in the box. Last Saturday at the Beaverton Farmer's Market we picked up some whole milk and heavy cream from Lady Lane Farms, where we buy milk every week, and some pasteruized eggs from Uwajimaya, and picked up a vanilla bean at New Seasons.
Now, the key note out of all of that is the vanilla bean - they are not created equal. If you have never tasted beans from the major types - generally referred to by their locales, Madagascar, Tahiti, and Mexico - together, you really should. It's a fantastic experience. Our favorite is Madagascar and that's just about all we buy - and almost always it's from Nielsen-Massey.
Unfortunately New Seasons didn't have bulk vanilla beans and doesn't carry the N-M beans, so I picked out another brand. It didn't register the jar didn't say where it was from, but as soon as we cracked it open to removed the seeds for the custard it was quite obvious it was from Tahiti. Oh well (not really a big fan of the Tahitian vanilla). We were making ice cream dammit - now! It's interesting to note the company that sold this bean doesn't even say where it's from on their website.
Undeterred, we mixed all the ingredients together (we did use Madgascar vanilla extract per the recipe) and got our custard going. After everything was mixed together in the pan and heating, it looked like this:
It should be noted here we didn't actually make ice cream - we made frozen custard. According to some site we looked at that I don't recall - maybe it was Wikipedia, they are never wrong - 95% of the "ice cream" homemade in the U.S. is actually frozen custard. I think it has to do with the amount of egg yolks used in the mixture. I think. (Note from Wikipedia: "In the United States the FDA requires it to contain at least 10% milkfat and 1.4% egg yolk solids. If it has less egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream.")
Fine by us - if you have read the blog you know we love the stuff, at Tart in Portland, Sheridan's in Vancouver, and Old School Frozen Custard in Seattle.
So after getting the mixture properly heated and mixed, then comes the hard part - you have to wait for it to cool thoroughly and chill it in the refrigerator. We are not all that patient. This process was started at about 5pm and we wanted ice cream that night. By the time we got it in the fridge it was after 8pm (after letting it cool on the counter a bit).
We checked it at 9. Still warm.
We checked again at 10. Still not quite.
We checked it at 10:45. Needed a few more minutes.
Finally, about 11:30, we called it good and poured the mixture into the ice cream maker, turning it on. This process takes about 25-30 minutes.
Now, if you buy one of these, take note: It's freakin' loud! Seriously, you can't hear yourself think. If you want fresh ice cream for a dinner party, I recommend having the party outside while the ice cream maker runs. You couldn't hear the T.V., the music, yourself think - it was that loud. Some of the reviews of the machine knocked it down because of that, but if you expect it ahead of time it's probably not a big deal.
Thirty minutes later....VOILA!
Does that not look like amazing goodness or what?!
The consistency was amazing. So creamy, so smooth - so damn good. Really, the only thing that held it back in our minds was the Tahitian bean. And even that, given everything else, didn't stop this from being amazing.
The finished product:
Cuisinart ice cream maker - A
Homemade vanilla bean frozen custard - A
Tahitian vanilla beans - C
It was so good, we may never go out for ice cream or buy it at the store again. (Yeah right, who am I kidding?)
I should note this was not exactly cost effective. The single vanilla bean cost $10 (though the Nielsen-Massey one gives you two beans for $9). The organic, cage-free eggs were probably $2 worth. The local cream and whole milk was about another $10.
But making your own ice cream? Priceless!
Next time we'll use the Madagascar beans we have already boughten and put in the cupboard. Can't wait!