After two full years of making my own ice cream, it’s become second nature; easy even. If I have eggs, sweetened condensed milk, half-half, and whole milk in the house, I can come up with almost any flavor, and end up with a creamy, yet firm texture.
I’m ridiculously proud of this skill. It’s a case where practice has made, if not perfect, at least a huge difference. I can look at the warm custard and tell if it is going to freeze properly – not too hard, not too chalky, but with just the right mouth feel.
Ice cream was my first step to this new kind of cooking. Something K.M. and I both love, but don’t need. A commitment I could make pretty quietly; if I didn’t make ice cream, (rather than buying a pint) we could do without.
At first I avoided recipes with eggs, or any ingredient (like lemons) that had the potential to curdle the milk. Then I got a copy of David Lebovitz‘s The Perfect Scoop, and I’ve never really looked back. I don’t follow every bit of Lebovitz’s procedures (though I did at first), but working through the book gave me the experience and confidence to experiment.
Because most of my ice creams are improvised, they haven’t gotten a lot of press in this space – I won’t post a recipe I haven’t tried at least twice. Over the holidays, for instance, I made candy cane ice cream with chocolate shavings. I melted half my politically correct candy canes right into the custard and shattered the rest of them with a hammer, to add during the freezing process.
That ice cream had the crunch of a good candy bar and the flavor of peppermint hot chocolate. But you’re lucky I don’t have a picture of it – turns out, melting organic candy canes into custard turns the whole mixture sixties hot-pants-pink. Picture that, with brown chocolate streaks. It’s a visual problem that I’ll work on next Christmas.
In the meantime, I’m celebrating citrus season with this tangy lemon blackberry ice cream – a recipe I’ve made more than a few times. It’s a perfect match for the gingersnaps that the New York Times featured as part of their food writer’s holiday memories round-up. I made them with whole wheat flour and extra ginger and they are too good to be limited to just the holiday season.
And cookies are another item on the growing of the list of things I make rather than buy. A list that also includes cream cheese, bacon, turkey pastrami, pizza, dog food, and most recently (and here’s a freak-flag alert) soap.
What’s on your homemade-only list?