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Making Memories with a Hand Cranked Ice Cream Maker

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Hand Cranked Ice Cream Maker.There is something about a hand cranked ice cream maker that conjures up fond memories. For me, recollections of family reunions during hot Midwest summers or cooking for 25 guests in 100 degree weather in the Grand Canyon while leading camping trips for Backroads come to mind. Even though I have a very nice ice cream maker with built in refrigeration, I bought a vintage White Mountain ice cream maker a couple years ago off eBay with the intent on using it during our annual camping trip to Yosemite. Sure, I could freeze the ice cream ahead of time and pack it with dry ice or even buy ice cream at the village store, but where is the fun in that?

Making ice cream with rock salt and ice isn’t complicated, but when I started to write out tips and advice for using one, I realized there are a lot of details worth knowing that will ensure better results. Some of the highlights of the hand cranked ice cream technique page are outlined below.

Save time and make better ice cream by pre-chilling ice cream and canister.
Vanilla ice cream base chills in an ice bath.Like any ice cream you are going to make, pre-chill the base until it is less than 45° F before attempting to churn. This will ensure faster freezing time, resulting in smaller ice crystals and a less grainy texture. While the ice cream base is chilling, either in an ice bath or in the refrigerator, you can prepare the ice cream maker with ice and rock salt. It takes several minutes for the salt to lower the freezing/melting point of the ice, and this also gives the canister a chance to pre-chill. Place the empty canister in the bucket and begin layering ice and rock salt together, adding a fine layer of salt every 2 inches of ice. Leave about 1 inch of space between the upper layer of ice and the top of the canister. Melting ice can draw dissolved salt into the canister top via capillary action, upsetting the flavor of your ice cream.

Churn ice cream, adding ice and salt as necessary.
With everything chilled, install the dasher in the canister and pour in your ice cream. Affix the canister lid, secure the crank and gearbox to the bucket and start cranking at 1 – 2 revolutions per second. Monitor the ice level and add more ice and salt as needed, being careful to keep the ice below the height of the lid. Properly pre-chilled, you should only need to churn for 15 – 30 minutes, depending on the ambient temperature and volume of ice cream being made.

Stop churning, pile on the ice and let sit 15 minutes to firm up.
Once you or your volunteers are exhausted, stop churning and pile more ice in the bucket to completely cover the canister and lid. Sprinkle a little more salt if desired. Let the ice cream maker sit like this for another 15 minutes to let the ice cream harden.

Ready to serve.
Ready to serve after ripening in bucket.Remove the ice and salt until the level of salt is 1 inch below the top of the canister. If you are going to serve the ice cream immediately, leave the canister in the bucket with the ice to help keep the ice cream frozen. Remove the dasher and scrape off any ice cream clinging to it into the canister. Hand the dasher to the volunteer cranker with the most endurance. If you are planning to serve the ice cream later and have access to a freezer, remove the canister and let stand for one minute. This rest should allow the dasher to extract most of the contents of the canister in a single pull (I can’t promise this for a fully loaded 6 quart model). Transfer the ice cream to a dedicated, odor-free container and place in freezer.

Time to clean up.
After washing the canister, lid and dasher in mild soap, be sure to rinse off the inside and outside of the bucket with a hose to remove any salt and prolong the life of your ice cream maker. If you made the ice cream while seated on a lawn give the spot you set the bucket a good soaking as the heavy concentration of salt will burn vegetation.

Regardless of the size of your ice cream maker, volume of ice cream batch, or how hot the weather is, following these steps will ensure you get the best results possible for the conditions you are in. Making ice cream with a hand cranked mixer is a lot of fun, especially when you involve family and friends on a nice day. Like a lot of things in life, it’s often the journey rather than the destination that is most memorable.

No electricity required, just salt and ice.

Pour chilled ice cream base into chilled canister.

Carefully alternate layers of salt and ice until ice is just below the canister top.

Affix crank and start cranking at 1 – 2 revolutions per second.

Once ice cream has thickened, pile on additional ice and let stand 15 minutes to ripen.

If serving later, let canister stand one minute before removing dasher and transferring ice cream to dedicated container.

Detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Hand Cranked Ice Cream technique page.

Vanilla Ice Cream that does not Compromise Flavor

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Vanilla Ice Cream.The first time I made ice cream with a real vanilla bean (pod) was in 1994. The recipe’s picture of the “Classic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream”, with little specks of vanilla in the off-white ice cream looked delicious. I carefully followed the recipe and what I ended up with was a very yellow ice cream with a strong custard flavor. It still tasted great, and the pure vanilla flavor was delightful, but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that the vanilla wasn’t the star of the show as I felt the recipe title implied. My wife and I had made vanilla ice cream (from extract) with eggs on many Backroads camping trips with no custard flavors, so what was different? The ice cream we made while camping on the North rim of the Grand Canyon with raw eggs was more Philadelphia style while the classic vanilla bean ice cream I just made was French style.

What’s all the fuss about style?
Philadelphia style ice cream typically refers to ice cream that contains no eggs. With no eggs, there is also less justification to cook the ingredients first, so some also consider the lack of cooking to be one of the primary traits of Philadelphia style ice creams. Nevertheless, some recipes with an unheated ice cream base and raw eggs are also sometimes referred to as Philadelphia style. Salmonella infection from raw eggs, although increasingly rare, should be taken into consideration when making ice cream with raw eggs.

French style ice cream typically refers to an ice cream that contains eggs and is heated with cream and/or milk to produce a custard base. This yields an extremely smooth, creamy textured ice cream with a custard flavor. The egg yolks also impart color, so the resulting cream is typically anything but white. It turns out that what I had actually made was a French Vanilla ice cream. Delicious, but not what I was looking for.

A compromise that yields the best from both styles.
What I really wanted was a recipe that had the creaminess associated with a custard base, but less eggy overtones. I experimented a little last year and came up with this recipe. With only 2 egg yolks, this recipe takes the compromise between Philadelphia style vanilla and French vanilla to the extraordinary.

Ingredients for Vanilla Ice Cream.

Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise with a knife and then scrape out the seeds.

Add milk, cream, vanilla seeds and pod to saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium heat.

Add 1/4 cup of the sugar to egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy.

With mixer on low speed, slowly add hot milk and cream mixture to beaten sugar and egg yolks. Mix in remaining sugar.

Return mixture to heat, add vanilla bean and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 170° F.

Pour ice cream base through strainer or chinois to remove any egg bits and vanilla pod fibers.

Chill mixture in ice bath until colder than 45° F.

Pour chilled ice cream base into chilled canister.

Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

After letting sit for 1 minute, ice cream should lift out easily with dasher.

Transfer ice cream to dedicated container to ripen in freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery—yes, this is a subset—can be found on the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe page.

Parisian Chocolate Desserts Class with David Lebovitz

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

David gets ready to start the demonstration.Friday night I attended the long awaited and sold out cooking demonstration and book signing by David Lebovitz at Draegers Cooking School in San Mateo. I’ve met plenty of tech bloggers, but David was actually the first food blogger I have met in person. David was extremely personable throughout the evening, joking frequently with the assistants and guests. Until David really got cooking, I had to remind myself I was at a cooking class and not watching a stand-up routine. At one point a guest asked if she could ask an unrelated question, and while she paused to choose the right wording, David quickly volunteered, “Briefs”.

A man of many contradictions
David Lebovitz.“I don’t really like sugary stuff,” David announced near the beginning of the class. David followed this confession with another shocker: he’s lactose intolerant. Meanwhile, proudly displayed at the edge of the counter were two of David’s cookbooks, The Great Book of chocolate and The Perfect Scoop. I bought an ice cream cook book from a lactose intolerant chef? Fortunately, David said he can still eat dairy, which has to be true given the sheer number of ice cream recipes in The Perfect Scoop.

The menu that made me forget about missing dinner consisted of:

  • Mocha Sherbet with Butterscotch-Pecan Tuiles and Fleur de Sel Almonds (the almond recipe is David’s favorite at the moment)
  • Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Orange-Cranberry Chutney, Olive Oil Ice Cream and Pear Granita
  • Chocolate and Confiture de Lait Brownies
  • Chocolate Chip Choquettes
  • Parsley Ice Cream with White Chocolate Sauce, and Raspberries and Strawberries with Cassis

Sensational Ice Cream
David confessed that an interviewer recently was only interested in discussing the unusual recipes in The Perfect Scoop and he was worried listeners wouldn’t realize there were more traditional recipe flavors in the book. Since I have already raved about the blackberry sorbet and lemon sorbet recipes from the book in past blog posts, it’s safe for me to mention the parsley ice cream he made for us because, well, it tastes like parsley. But like the strawberry basil mojito that Draegers served at the beginning of the class, the pairing of herb and strawberry played well together. The scoops of parsley ice cream were nickel sized and encouraged you to ration them with the raspberries and strawberries. This was a good example of David’s desire to create uncomplicated dishes with strong flavor combinations.

David struts his stuff with Draegers’ chef, Bill Hutton.Though not as outrageous sounding as the parsley ice cream, the olive oil ice cream proved to be quite nice. Yielding a delicate, fresh flavor, the olive oil ice cream struggled to compete with the rich Chocolate Soufflé Cake and Orange-Cranberry Chutney, both of which were delicious.

David’s anecdotes about living in Paris, life on a book tour, and having a popular blog were both entertaining and educational. We learned a lot about Parisian culture, much of which was humorous. Do you think David says funny things about Americans when he is in Paris?

Hot Fudge Sauce (like you had as a kid).

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Hot Fudge SauceAs a kid, I loved hot fudge sundaes. The only problem was that you had to go to the ice cream parlor to get one. Oh sure, people would try to make them at home using a can of Hershey’s syrup, but the syrup was runny, especially when it was heated. Then, as the ice cream melted, the syrup would dissolve to make very rich (thanks to the ice cream) chocolate milk. This isn’t hot fudge—hot fudge sauce needs to stick to your spoon and refuse to pour at room temperature or colder. Where do you get such a sauce?

The selection of hot fudge sauces you can buy at specialty and gourmet stores has increased only slightly since I was a kid. Meanwhile, your average supermarket generally carries magic shell, Hershey’s syrup, and other national brand sauces. Occasionally you can find an interesting local chocolate sauce in a specialty/gourmet store. I’ve tried a wine-infused cabernet chocolate sauce that was quite good, especially after an afternoon of wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma Valley here in California. Nevertheless, I would generally consider these kinds of hot fudge sauces as experimental; they are only meant to be tried occasionally.

Stick to the basics.
So of course, a couple years ago I tried to dress this recipe up with a more exotic cocoa powder. I had a huge bag of Valrhona cocoa powder (which has a gorgeous reddish hue) left over from making mocha truffles, so it should make a better, more gourmet sauce, right? Well, it wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t what people were expecting. If you tell someone you are giving them hot fudge sauce, it had better taste like hot fudge sauce—no tricks. To accomplish that, you have to stick to basics and that means using good old fashioned Hershey’s cocoa. Don’t even think of using the newer Hershey’s dark cocoa, either. We’re talking childhood memories, remember?

The ingredients in this sauce aren’t ones I think of when making most of my recipes; real chocolate and cream come to mind. But this is nostalgia, so when I recall the large one gallon cans of syrup on the shelves in the back of the ice cream parlor, evaporated milk and corn syrup sound about right. With this recipe, adapted from an old, out of print Hershey’s Cookbook, I think you will find the taste is right, too.

Ingredients for making Hot Fudge Sauce.

Add evaporated milk and corn syrup to saucepan.

Add cocoa and sugar to evaporated milk and corn syrup.

Bring to a boil and stir for 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Turn off heat and blend in butter and vanilla.

Mix well and let sauce cool and thicken 5 – 10 minutes before pouring over ice cream.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Hot Fudge Sauce recipe page.

We all scream for Cinnamon Latte!

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Cinnamon Latte Ice CreamA big fan of coffee flavor in desserts, I was eager to try the Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream recipe from Ice Cream Ireland. Actually I have been meaning to make any of Kieran’s recipes. Erika at Tummy Treasure even got inspired to make her own recipe for a Cinnamon Gelato. Be sure to check out Ice Cream Ireland for a truly wonderful ice cream experience, recipes, great photos and inspiration.

Cinnamon and espresso are the key ingredients in this recipe, so I was off to get some espresso. In this age of venti caramel machiato nonfat soy half-caff frappuccinos it is pretty rare to see someone just order an espresso at their nearby coffee house. So when I purchased four shots of espresso the barista couldn’t help but wonder what I was going to do with it. I guess you’re not allowed to drink that much by yourself so I appreciated their concern. I neglected to tell them I would be reducing the espresso even further to make it more concentrated, thereby avoiding a Starbucks intervention.

Most recipes I have used that require coffee flavoring call for espresso powder and I was concerned about the effects of simmering on the espresso. Kieran told me that reducing the espresso into syrup helps prevent iciness and that the flavor of the espresso is fine after simmering. I made Kieran’s recipe last week and it was rich, creamy and delicious. My wife commented that it was a little on the sweet side and I concurred with her assessment. Delicious as it was, I wouldn’t want to eat a big bowl of it. Kieran’s recipe post asked for feedback on the recipe so I asked him about options for modifying the sugar to milk and cream ratio and he recommended only making tiny changes. Looking at other ice cream recipes I have made, this definitely has more sugar per volume of cream and milk. Other recipes I use typically have 3/4 cup to 1 cup of sugar for 3 cups of milk/cream/half & half.

So today I decided to go with my gut and increase the total volume of milk and cream to 3 cups—a 25% increase—leaving the sugar at 1 cup (one tablespoon less sugar than in the original recipe). I already felt there was plenty of cinnamon flavor, but increasing the milk and cream would also dilute the espresso flavor, so I boosted the coffee flavor with a teaspoon of espresso powder to make up for any dilution and then some. The resulting ice cream recipe was exactly what I was aiming for: the right amount of sweetness with a slightly stronger coffee flavor to balance the cinnamon. My wife and I eagerly cleaned out the ice cream maker with a spatula after freezing. Delicious.

Ingredients for making Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream.

Reduce 4 shots of espresso over stove.

Heat milk and cream over stove until just simmering.

Beat together egg yolks, sugar and cinnamon until light and fluffy.

After slowly adding hot milk and cream to beaten egg yolks, return to stove and cook until thickened.

Pour mixture through chinois to remove any egg bits or other lumps.

Add cooled espresso syrup and espresso powder to ice cream base and chill in ice bath until colder than 45° F.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions.

Once ice cream has finished churning, transfer to dedicated container to ripen in freezer.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream recipe page.

3 Posts in One: Classic, Wafer and Chocolate Waffle Cones

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Several years ago we bought a Chef’s Choice waffle cone maker that I have only used a few times since we purchased. The waffle iron comes with a plastic rolling cone and recipes for 3 different kinds of waffle cones, which are also available on their website. The website also has detailed instructions and tips that are actually pretty helpful. I made all three recipes two weeks ago just before we headed off to Disneyland with the kids.

You can imagine my interest when we stopped in for ice cream at the Bur-r-r bank Ice Cream parlor in Disney’s California Adventure and I noticed the staff was making fresh waffle cones. They had two waffle cone making workstations with a total of five waffle cone makers, most of which looked like they had plenty of use that Spring break Friday. Unlike the other lines we were in that day, the ice cream queue moved fairly quickly, but I did get a chance to see how they used a special aluminum mold to make waffle cups.

The waffle cone station farthest from me appeared to be where they made the cones, and I watched as one “Cast Member” gently rolled hot waffle cones into a cylinder before placing it inside a large plastic drinking cup. They then placed another cup of the same size inside this one, to sandwich the waffle cone between the two nested cups. She then seemed to place the cup inside something set into the counter—I was tempted to ask but didn’t want to look like a moron holding up the line. Not quite sure what she was making, but the waffle cones they made were thick, sturdy and crunchy. I had a dark chocolate dipped cone, of course.

Waffle cones are typically pretty rich and tend to go best with milk based frozen treats. I don’t think sorbets would go well with a waffle cone, but I’d love to hear of some unusual combinations that anyone has had—and liked. The waffle cone recipes that came with my waffle cone maker of three types: classic waffle cone, wafer style and chocolate waffle cone. What all of these recipes have in common is that they taste better over-cooked than under-cooked. If, after looking at the waffle, you aren’t certain whether or not it is done, leave it in for another 20 – 30 seconds. If the waffles aren’t cooked well they are soft and have a stale texture and crunch. Slightly over-done waffles don’t really taste burned and have a great crunch.

Classic Waffle Cone

Classic Waffle Cones.The smell of this waffle cone recipe cooking brings back memories of childhood when someone would be generous enough to let you have a waffle cone with your ice cream at the ice cream store. The melted butter in this recipe makes for a great tasting waffle cone. These thick and sturdy waffle cones are a great match with a rich vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

Ingredients for making Classic Waffle Cones.

Beat one whole egg and one egg yolk until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well.

Carefully fold in flour until just mixed.

Stir in belted butter until blended.

Spoon two tablespoons of batter onto preheated waffle iron and cook 60 – 90 seconds.

Use fork to remove hot waffle from iron. Roll immediately.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Classic Waffle Cone recipe page.

Wafer Cone

Wafer Cones.This wafer cone recipe was the lightest tasting recipe thanks mainly to cake flour and safflower oil instead of butter. Reminiscent of the triangular wafers you sometimes get with gelato ice creams, this waffle cone recipe can probably be paired with most any ice cream flavor. The batter for this recipe was a lot thinner than the chocolate or classic recipe. I poured the batter onto the waffle iron and closed the lid only to discover that runny batter really spreads fast. I was left with plenty of batter oozing out the sides of the iron. The resulting waffles were thinner, and crispier than the other waffle cone recipes I tried

Ingredients for making Wafer Cones.

Beat 2 eggs, salt, and sugar until fluffy.

Fold in cake flour until just blended.

Add vanilla and gently mix.

This batter was a little runnier than others. Pour 2 tablespoons on preheated iron.

Roll waffle until over seam, then hold and press gently to form a better seal.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Wafer Cone recipe page.

Chocolate Waffle Cone

Chocolate Waffle Cones.The chocolate waffle cone recipe yielded very dark waffles that were difficult to determine the doneness of. The finished cones had a thick, sturdy texture more like the classic waffle cones. I’d pair these with cookies and cream ice cream for a treat not soon to be forgotten.

Ingredients for making Chocolate Waffle Cones.

Melt chocolate in hot, melted butter.

Pour chocolate and butter mixture into whipped eggs, salt and sugar.

After mixing cocoa and flower together, add to batter and gently fold until blended.

Spoon two tablespoons of batter onto preheated waffle iron and cook 60 – 90 seconds.

Roll waffle until over seam, then hold and press gently to form a better seal.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Chocolate Waffle Cone recipe page.