October 5, 2010

Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream

I have always wanted to make ice cream. Ever since we did that 'experiement' in elementary school where every kid got a bag of ice cream mix in a bigger bag of ice, and was instructed to throw it around, I have wanted to make ice cream for real. Congrats teachers on a brilliant way to get kids to bring you ice cream at school.

Nic and I decided to do a mutual ice cream making project. We tossed around idea after idea, Olive-Oil Gelato, courtesy of our friend at Ecco, Rosemary/Herb ice cream, White Nectarine sorbet, all kinds of chocolate. Then it came down to division of labor, and while Nic handled the hard part (freezing the maker) I got to make the base. Who's got two thumbs and is in charge of flavor decisions? This guy! 

What better way to start with a classic, than vanilla ice cream? Never mind I'm never one to go with a straight recipe the first try. I must tinker with it, which is why I've never made good soup. This is another topic for another day however. Vanilla-Black Pepper ice cream was This was originally intended to go with the Chocolate Cocoa Nib cookies I posted  a while ago.

I stood directly in front of the ice cream churn for the entire 30-45 minutes it took, watching. Waiting. Nose about 3 inches from the bowl. Its a fascinating process. And totally worth it, when I finally took a spoonful of sweet, creamy with a floral overtone that was crazy good, with a bit of heat at the end. Yum.

Vanilla Black Pepper Ice Cream
Makes about a quart

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
1 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper- use this to taste. ie add less, taste then keep adding as necessary.

1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot and steaming- barely hot to touch. Stick your finger in it- should be slightly warmer than body temperature.

2. Prepare an ice bath: dumps lots of ice cubes into a huge bowl, and add water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into a different, separate, large bowl. Set a fine sieve over the top and place the whole contraption in the ice bath bowl- be careful not to submerge the bowl with cream! I used a wok as my huge bowl with ice water. 

3. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks throughly. (save the whites!)

4. By now, your milk, cream and sugar mixture should be hot and ready. Take off the stove, let sit for 30 seconds. 

5. Start whisking egg yolks vigorously, then slowly stream in about half of the milk mixture. Then pour the egg mixture back with the rest of the milk and replace on the stove. Don't panic during this step- go slowly, and remember if it seizes or curdles, whiz it in a blender until smooth. Also- small chunks are to be expected, that's what the sieve over the rest of the cream is for.

6. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium low heat. You want the custard to lightly coat the back of a spoon- drag your finger down the middle of it and the lines should stay separate. This took me about 6 minutes. 

7. Pour the custard through the sieve into the rest of the cream, and stir to combine. Now let it cool down in the ice bath. Lay plastic wrap across the top directly on the custard and refrigerate overnight. 

8. Prepare your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. When you're ready to churn, stir in the vanilla and black pepper- TASTE it make sure its good. 

9. Churn according to manufacturer's instructions, and once done freeze in a lidded container for about 2 hours. 


Emily said...

Looks delicious! You guys should try Morelli's ice cream in East Atlanta - they have crazy gourmet flavors like Rosemary Olive Oil and Maple Bacon Brittle. I tried the Salted Caramel and it was fantastic!