Monday, January 26, 2009

Machine Love - My Ice-cream Love Affair Begins

I feel like I witnessed a miracle today. I am so in awe...


my new ice-cream maker.

I've before that I got an ice-cream maker for Christmas. It was a Dome one and although I knew it was low end, I didn't expect it to NOT WORK. Well... after many failed attempts wherein I followed every specific tip/advice/technique found on ice-cream machine forums to no avail, I finally gave up and insisted the machine be returned.

Charlie decided to be a darl and not let my ice-cream making dreams go to waste (I had, after all, bought 2 ice-cream making books on a whim and now had no machine to use) so he exchanged, rather than returned and he brought me back a Krups ice-cream machine.

There are many positive reviews for the Krups machine but I was so disheartened after my first one that I didn't reaaaally expect a huge improvement. I mean, what if it was our freezer that was at fault? What if it was just me with an uncanny ice-cream disability?

I was so nervous about another failure that I didn't make a new mix to test the machine. Instead, I used my French vanilla ice-cream mix from before and let it melt in the fridge. I assembled the Krups and sneaked it into the bedroom to use. This is purely because I was too scared of Charlie knowing if it failed again.

As an afterthought, I even turned on the fan to blow on the ice-cream machine to keep it cool (this kind of paranoia is all due to the Dome machine... I even had the air-con on for the Dome and it still wouldn't work) but now I know this was probably not necessary.

Then... I tentatively poured the ice-cream mix into the chute, crossed my fingers and waited.

The problem with the Dome machine was that it would not harden the ice-cream mix. Either the motor unit was too hot or the cooling unit wasn't cold enough (or it was just crap). They advise 20-40min for ice-cream to be cooled and churned to a good consistency. After 40min, any mix in the Dome machine would still be like water.

After 10min, I walked into the bedroom to see that the mixture in the Krups machine was already becoming solid. I nearly SCREAMED with happiness.

At this point, I got a plastic container and spatula ready in hand to scrape out the ice-cream as soon as it was done. I was then delighted to discover that my ice-cream machine actually beeps to let you know the ice-cream is ready. AND it stops automatically... no more need to hover around waiting. I felt so proud of it almost like a parent:child thing.About 30min later, my ice-cream was ready and needless to say, I had a taste of it before it went into the container and boy was it good. No ice crystals whatsoever and very very creamy.

I haven't got piccies of the steps in making the ice-cream mix, or of the end product but I'll provide it all the same. I used a basic French vanilla ice-cream recipe from "The Perfect Scoop" (which is a book I'll be using a lot more of). The recipe is good. When I tasted it out of the saucepan, I knew it would be great. Since the ice-cream machine I had at the time didn't work, I had to hand churn it. I was proud of the hand churned product at the time but the ice-cream that came out of my machine today was in a league of its own.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes about 1 Liter

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half length-wise (I just used 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 6 large egg yolks (it says 6 in the book but 5 on his website...)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt in a medium saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds in before adding the bean casing as well. I just dropped in some vanilla extract here. Cover, remove from heat and let it gradually return to room temperature (about 30min).
2. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and set a strainer over the top. David recommends you have this bowl of cream set in an ice-bath or some iced water in your sink. This is because later on, the warm custard will be added to the cream and you want it to be cold so that the custard stops cooking immediately.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warm egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula (don't forget to scrape the bottom and sides as you stir to prevent bits of custard cooking). Continue until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
5. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add some more vanilla extract if required.
6. Keep stirring over the ice-bath until cool.
7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (2-3 hrs) and then churn according to your ice-cream maker's instructions.

A few weeks ago, I was at Cold Rock in Rosalie. I walked in with the intention of buying something low-fat but as soon as I saw the flavor "Cake Batter" on trial, I had to taste it. The free taste was so good that I HAD to get a whole scoop and spent all night researching how to create the flavor myself.

I tweaked the French vanilla ice-cream by adding about 1/2 a packet of cake batter (cheapo kind from supermarket) and some about 1/2 cup more milk (the cake batter contains sugar which makes the mix too sweet if you don't somehow water it down again). This was done over low-medium heat in a saucepan before being cooled completely in the fridge (2-3 hours). Again, you need the mix to be completely chilled for use in your ice-cream machine.

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