Get scoop on best-ever vanilla ice cream

The Korea Times - - FOOD - By Daniel Ne­man

The guy broke my heart.

I was call­ing a lo­cal kitchen goods store, look­ing for an ice­cream maker. I had made a batch of ice cream in my old maker, and it took so long to get cold that part of the ice cream lit­er­ally turned to but­ter from be­ing churned with­out freez­ing.

It was then I re­mem­bered that the last time I had used the ice cream maker I re­al­ized that I needed a new one.

So, with a small din­ner party the next day and no ice cream to serve, I called the lo­cal kitchen goods store and asked if they car­ried ice cream mak­ers.

“No,” said the guy with a dis­tinct sense of res­ig­na­tion in his voice. “No­body asks for them any­more.”

And my heart cracked right in two. No­body makes ice cream any­more?

Ice cream mak­ers used to be my go-to gift for wed­dings. Every­body loves ice cream, right? I have it on good au­thor­ity that we all even scream for it.

But ap­par­ently ice cream mak­ers don’t sell like they used to. Per­haps we have ac­cess to too much great ice cream now. Why make our own when we can eas­ily pick up the best from Messrs. Drewes and Wiz­ard, from Fritz or Jeni or An­nie or Bobby or Cle­men­tine.

Still, there is no ice cream like home­made ice cream.

I found an ice cream maker at an­other store and made a batch of salty caramel ice cream (this time with­out cre­at­ing but­ter). I used the recipe from “Jeni’s Splen­did Ice Creams at Home,” the first and best cook­book from the god­dess of ice cream, Jeni Brit­ton Bauer.

The next week, my wife hap­pened to find her­self at the lo­cal Jeni’s ice cream par­lor, and she or­dered the salty caramel ice cream.

Mine was bet­ter, she said. And that’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween home­made and store­bought.

Who­ever makes it, Jeni’s salty caramel is one of my very fa­vorite ice creams, so I de­cided to make it again for this story. I also made two of my other ab­so­lute fa­vorites: lemon lo­tus ice cream and su­perb Ital­ian choco­late ice cream.

And if you’re one of those peo­ple who, heart­break­ingly, do not have an ice cream maker — if I didn’t know you when you got mar­ried, for in­stance — I also made a tremen­dously sat­is­fy­ing batch that does not need a maker. It’s called magic vanilla ice cream.

Let’s start with that one. The magic part of magic vanilla ice cream is the way it cre­ates that un­mis­tak­able ice-cream tex­ture with­out do­ing what a maker does: con­stantly stir­ring the mix while si­mul­ta­ne­ously freez­ing it.

There are a cou­ple of se­crets be­hind the magic. One is that you use softly whipped cream, which makes it creamy and light. The whipped cream is folded into a mix­ture of con­densed milk (an­other se­cret) and melted white choco­late.

The melted white choco­late is the big­gest se­cret of all. It cre­ates a depth to the fla­vor not pro­vided by the other hand­ful of in­gre­di­ents and makes it taste just like high-qual­ity vanilla ice cream. Some of our taste testers even said it was their fa­vorite.

If the magic vanilla was the eas­i­est of the ice creams to make, the salty caramel is the hard­est. I made it next.

The trick­i­est part of mak­ing salty caramel (Bauer calls it “salty,” not “salted,” and I am not about to ar­gue with her) is the caramel. First, you put sugar in a pot over medium-high heat and let it sit with­out touch­ing it un­til a good­sized ring of am­ber-col­ored melted sugar sur­rounds a shrink­ing is­land of white sugar.

Then you push and pull the melted part into the un­melted, mix­ing the two un­til it is all melted. And then you keep stir­ring un­til the color is a dark cop­per and lit­tle bub­bles are pop­ping on the sur­face. It doesn’t take long in the grand scheme of things, but pa­tience is re­quired for this step.

Three more se­crets make the salty caramel ice cream so ex­cep­tional. One is that you con­tinue to make the caramel by pour­ing in not just cream but a mix­ture of cream and corn syrup. An­other is that you thicken the base slightly with a slurry of milk and corn­starch.

And the third is that you whisk the still-hot base into a small amount of cream cheese and salt be­fore freez­ing it.

It takes ef­fort, but like a lot of things that take ef­fort, the re­sults are out of this world: rich, creamy and vel­vety, with an im­pec­ca­ble balance of caramel and salt.

While the salty caramel ice cream is sub­stan­tial in na­ture, lemon lo­tus is light and re­fresh­ing. It is what I serve af­ter a heavy din­ner for a pleas­ing, el­e­gant dessert. Cook­ies are of­ten in­volved, too.

The se­cret to lemon lo­tus ice cream is that the al­most ef­fer­ves­cently light ice cream is coun­ter­bal­anced by pieces of fla­vor­ful lemon peel. The peel is sliced thin so it is per­fectly ed­i­ble — think of it as be­ing like large pieces of zest — and it adds just the right touch of bit­ter­ness to the dessert.

The last ver­sion I made, su­perb Ital­ian choco­late ice cream, is prob­a­bly my fa­vorite choco­late ice cream any­where. It is more of a gelato than an ice cream, so it has a softer tex­ture than the oth­ers. Its se­cret is the six egg yolks and the stick of but­ter that go into the mix­ture, mak­ing the end prod­uct al­most ridicu­lously smooth and rich.

Its other se­cret is that it uses two types of choco­late, semisweet and unsweet­ened, which makes the fla­vor more com­plex. Its other other se­cret is the use of cof­fee, which gen­er­ates low bass notes to com­ple­ment the sweeter highs. Its other other other se­cret is the way it em­ploys three dif­fer­ent forms of dairy — whip­ping cream, light cream and con­densed milk — to lend ad­di­tional in­trigue.

And its other other other other se­cret is good old-fash­ioned booze: a hit of dark rum and a splash of creme de ca­cao to add al­lure and a hint of mys­tery. They also help to keep it soft and creamy.

Put it all to­gether in an ice cream maker, freeze it, and it is bet­ter than ice cream has any right to be.

But don’t tell any­one. It will be our se­cret.

Magic vanilla ice cream

Yield: 1 quart cup sweet­ened con­densed milk 1 ounce white choco­late chips 1/2 cup sour cream

1 ta­ble­spoon vanilla ex­tract Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

1. Mi­crowave sweet­ened con­densed milk and white choco­late in large bowl un­til choco­late melts, stir­ring half­way, about 30 sec­onds. Let cool. Stir in sour cream, vanilla and salt.

2. Us­ing stand mixer fit­ted with whisk, whip cream on medium-speed to soft peaks. Whisk 1/3 of whipped cream into white choco­late mix­ture. Fold re­main­ing whipped cream into mix­ture un­til in­cor­po­rated.

3. Place in an air­tight con­tainer and freeze un­til firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Per serv­ing (based on 8): 226 calo­ries; 18 g fat; 11 g sat­u­rated fat; 54 mg choles­terol; 3 g pro­tein; 14 g car­bo­hy­drate; 14 g sugar; no fiber; 331 mg sodium; 94 mg cal­cium Recipe from “Kitchen Hacks,” by Cook’s Il­lus­trated

(St. Louis Post-Dis­patch/Tribune News)

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