Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
It’s midnight and I’m wide awake. The husband has his eyes glued on the game on TV. I get up and potter around the house. Cats blink sleepily at me from inside their cage. Potter around back to the kitchen. Open fridge. Close fridge. Open freezer. Close freez… eh?
Four frozen egg yolks peer at me from within their little plastic Ziploc bag. In a rather accusing manner.
Right. I’d meant to use these. I’d even bookmarked one of those sites about using up leftover yolks. 1 for creme brulee, 2 for homemade pasta, 3 for some other crap I can’t recall…
By a stroke of fate, these yolks were nestled up right next to my ice cream maker vessel.
I quickly dug out this recipe from David Lebovitz that I’d been keeping for the longest time.
Yolks? Okay, recipe called for 5 yolks. I’m short of one, but separating a fresh egg now won’t take me 10 seconds. Check.
Sugar? Vanilla bean and vanilla extract? I’ve got both homemade vanilla sugar and extract, so check, check, check.
Cream? Erm… here was the problem. I shook the opened carton of cream in our fridge. It didn’t sound like more than a cup and a bit more to me. Thankfully, this little side note on the recipe saved the day: “For a richer custard, you can add up to 3 more egg yolks.” So 5+3 makes 8 yolks. Divide thus, and the recipe, by 2 and we get exactly FOUR eggs yolks and ONE cup of cream. I’m a genius.
Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (Adapted from David Lebovitz)
The custard was a no-brainer to make up. Simply heat the milk, vanilla sugar and salt in a saucepan until just below a boil. Stir the thawed yolks in a stainless steel bowl and temper with the hot milk mixture. Return to the saucepan and stir constantly over low heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the custard into the cold cream to cool it down, stir in the extract and bung the whole thing in the refrigerator to chill overnight. Whole process took less than 20 minutes.
The step of chilling the custard to as cold as it gets might be annoying to those of us who crave instant gratification, but is crucial. It ensures the custard freezes in the shortest time possible once it hits the ice cream maker. Short freezing time = less time for ice crystals to form = tiniest possible ice crystals = super smooth ice cream. Patience rewards.
In the morning, I carefully poured the chilled custard into the narrow spout of my Kenwood ice-cream maker with the motor running, then slapped myself on the forehead for not having the foresight to chill the custard in a JUG. So much easier.
20 minutes later, The ice cream is beautifully churned. Transfer to freezer-safe container, snap on the lid. Done!
The texture was very smooth with excellent mouth feel. The thing about domestic use ice-cream makers like mine is that motor usually jams once the ice cream freezes to a certain viscosity, so the overrun (geek speak for the amount of air incorporated into the ice-cream during churning) is pretty limited. Low overrun = less volume = more dense and creamy texture. (Conversely, cheap commercial ice creams tends to have high overrun, i.e. more volume and very airy mouth feel. You are paying for all that AIR!)
Was it necessary to use both the vanilla bean AND extract? Lebovitz insists there’s a difference in flavour between the bean and extract, and this adds to the different dimensions in taste. Was it noticeable? Couldn’t tell, but if the Grand Master of ice cream says jump, I ask how high. On a scientific note, alcohol in the extract helps to inhibit the formation of ice crystals which improves that creamy texture and keeps the ice-cream soft and scoopable even after storing in the freezer, so there’s really no harm in adding a couple of teaspoons in that.
Half a recipe was perfect for one cycle in my 1.1-litre ice cream maker. Even though the capacity of the churning vessel is 1.1 litre, ice cream expands as it churns and freezes, so a full batch of ice cream would have climbed up the sides and the lid of the machine and possibly jamming the paddle. Besides, if I’d made the whole recipe, it would have taken up to 40 minutes to churn and in that prolonged period of freezing, it is likely huge ice crystals would have formed. So my advice to domestic ice cream makers: churn half a recipe at a time. With the second batch, you could add in fold-ins like nuts, chunks of brownie or salted caramel for a twist on the flavour and ensure quality at the same time.
Verdict? This recipe made close to a pint of very high quality vanilla ice cream and cost only about $2.20 in ingredients to make. Ben and Jerry can go suck eggs.