I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream…
…but I haven’t quite figured out why.
Okay, so sometimes being a human being, and a dad, and a husband, and whatnot means not doing that writing thing and instead being all domestic and crafty. I do that, sometimes.
This weekend (after I finally had substantially improved from whatever malady was afflicting me earlier in the week), this domestic craftiness came in the form of Making Ice Cream. Pictures will now ensue.
I got an Ice Cream Maker as a door prize in an office Christmas party several years ago – it must have been 2007, I think. It has been criminally underused since then – on average once a summer. So Dear Wife and I decided to run it through its paces this summer at last. I started out this project knowing I wanted a Chocolate base, with something interesting to kick it up. Dear Wife and I both are undying devotees of chocolate. So that was a given.
Recently we’d been at a fancy ice cream joint that served a lot of non-traditional flavors, including some “savory” flavors, in rotation. We’re talking some pretty stange flavors like “Maple Bacon” and “Chocolate Jalapeno” and “Rosemary Olive Oil” and… you catch my drift. Still, there were some really, really tasty ones that we did try there, like “Salted Caramel”. I had a “Mexican Milkshake”. I knew from a local Hot Chocolate dive that a “Mexican Hot Cocoa” was one flavored with cinnamon, and this was the same. So that chocolate-cinnamon combo was my inspiration.
I didn’t have a recipe for chocolate-cinnamon ice cream, so I sort of played it by the seat of my pants. I made the chocolate ice cream almost exactly to the recipe (I was a tiny bit short on Cocoa and a about a cup short on cream – it called for 3 and I had 2 cups – so I replaced the missing cream with whole milk). And then for cinnamon – I tried to go with what felt right. I added a half-tablespoon of cinnamon, but after I’d mixed the cinnamon and cocoa I couldn’t smell the cinnamon anymore. So I added about a nother half-tablespoon, mixed the cocoa and cinnamon again, and gave it another sniff. It still didn’t seem like enough, so I added just a dash more. After that, I reasoned, if I still couldn’t smell the cinnamon, I was afraid at the point of over-doing it, so I stopped. Then in went the milk and cream. This wasn’t a custard-style recipe, so there were no eggs. I didn’t want to mess with that without a lot more experience playing Ice Cream Chef.
The result is stage one, above. Then, into the Ice Cream Maker:
And now, through the MAGIC of SCIENCE!!!! the hardest part of making ice cream is now the easiest part. Into the Ice Cream maker we go with our mixture of milk, cream, sugar, cocoa, &cetera and let technology do the freezing and churning for us.
The mixture churns in our super-cooled churning thingy, slowly growing firmer and more icey. It does this for about 20 minutes – after which point the ice cream is now firm enough for the second-to-last stage. Because Dear Wife and I didn’t want just “Ice Cream” – we wanted ice cream with our topping pre-mixed. So a few handfuls of chocolate chips – mostly semi-sweet but a few colorful white chips that are supposed to be confetti cake topping – also go in. The ice cream churns on for an additional five minutes or so, mixing in the chips thorougly.
The Ice Cream is now ready for the final stage:
I now have Cinnamon-Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream… more or less. It is now the consistency of Soft Serve, but it has the melting speed of butter on a hot skillet. So it was edible, but we quickly found ourselves slurping the last of our first helping.
Which is why the recipes all seem to call for a “ripening” time of 2 to 4 hours in an airtight container in the freezer. Which is where the remainder of the ice cream in fact now is.
But actually, I think I learned something important this time out. I dished Dear Wife and I our servings last night largely from the middle, where the ice cream was softest. But as I dished the remainder into containers, I found that the edge closest to the super-cooled ice cream bucket was firmer and more the consistency of ice cream. So… Lesson 1) Dish that first serving from the edge, not the center. Lesson 2) Next time try this: periodically while the ice cream churns, stop the motor, remove the lid, and scrape the edges into the center to more evenly distribute the coldest part of the ice cream.
With any luck, there will be a next time before summer ends.