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Ice Cream, Gelato, Sherbet--Cook-Off 11


Chris Amirault
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Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.

I think that T. S. Eliot was wrong: July, not April, is the cruelest month, at least when it comes to food. Many of us in the northern hemisphere are struggling with hot, humid conditions (conditions many of us in the southern hemisphere, especially those near the equator, tolerate year-round), and for folks in the U.S. the food-dreary holiday of Independence Day arrives soon. Who wants to be in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove, or out back, pushing lousy franks around a grill? (Of course, if you were in on the previous cook-off, you know the solution to lousy franks....) So, for our eleventh Cook-Off, we're going to chill out with ice cream, gelato, and sherbet. How you define those things -- dairy or no? egg custard or no? -- is entirely up to you.

"But frozen treats require special equipment!" you say. Well, er... yes and no. If you're game, there are ways to make ice cream et al with buckets, ice, and salt; perhaps a few intrepid members will show us the way. However, a Donvier ice cream maker does a great job, is inexpensive retail, and is widely available on eBay and at your local thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales. There's even a thread here devoted to inexpensive ice cream makers, as well as one devoted to machines that don't have those pesky frozen canisters.

As you can see, those frosty eGulleteers have been doing some homework for us. We've got a thread devoted to ice cream recipes and tips, another concerning interesting ice cream recipes, the chocolate ice cream thread, another for sorting out ice cream making problems, one about sorbets and ice creams in general, even one on ice cream made from pig brains. There are also many, many sorbet threads and a few gelato threads, all of which you can find by clicking on the "Search" button in the top right of every window.

So grab your cream or milk, fruit, chocolate, herbs, spices, and/or pig brains, and...

Wait. On second thought, don't grab the pig brains. I don't even wanna know about that. :blink:

So grab your cream or milk, fruit, chocolate, herbs, and/or spices and have at it!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Here's a the unedited version of a piece I originally wrote for the Washington Post a couple of years back, aimed more at those comtemplating taking up the freezer for the first time than veteran crankers but, I'd like to think, helpful and amusing.

If you're near a Pottery Barn, BTW, they had Cuisinart Ice Cream makers for sale earlier this summer, and were throwing in an extra cooling thing-y for free, which is nice. I actually thing the ice/rocksalt makers give a slightly better product, but the ones I see around are brutally expensive, in the $150 range, versus $50 for the Cuisinart.

*******

An unofficial count at the Georgetown Safeway turns up well over 200 different ice creams, sorbets, and frozen god-knows-whats, ready to be carried home and devoured, preferably directly from the carton before roommates or a spouse can get at it.

So, why make your own?

First, because Ben and Jerry don’t haunt the local bodegas waiting for those extraordinary Haitian mangoes, preferred base for the world’s most unctuous sorbet, to come into season and ripen perfectly.

Second, because even with far more than 32 flavors to choose from, mass marketers can never exactly match your own taste, menu and secret vices.

And finally, homemade tastes even better than you than you think -- and it’s easier to make than you’d imagine.

Like most good cooking, ice cream- or sorbet-making is half done by the time you leave the market. The quality ingredients you select make your product taste dramatically better than even the most earnestly produced hand-scooped treat.

That, and freshness. You wouldn’t know it from the advertising or the packaging that comes with commercial ice cream, but frozen desserts are actually delicate and short-lived. Made with fresh fruits and high quality dairy products, they are best consumed they day they are made or – as with Huey Long’s fictional doppelganger, Governor Willie Stark, who allowed that he might run for re-election if he kept “relishing that peach ice cream for breakfast” -- first thing the following day.

In addition to Governor Stark, the story of frozen desserts is larded with politicians and celebrities: Nero, Catherine d’Medici, Marco Polo and Charles I all figure prominently in popular histories of the dish. Happily, we can dispense with these Old Europeans because our own founding fathers – and mothers – have a legitimate claim as the architects of the modern ice age.

Local boys Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were early ice cream pioneers. Jefferson left us the oldest known American recipe for the dessert, and Washington invested in an early ice cream-making machine.

And many credit Dolly Madison with elevating after-dinner ices from a curiosity to a genuine trend, when she served ice cream at her husband’s inaugural ball. Her influence is still strong in Washington, where the annual Ice Cream Social may be Capitol Hill’s most anticipated lobbying event. And First Lady Laura Bush has helped her husband overcome his distaste for formal events by capping each of his three state dinners with a frozen treat: mango-coconut ice cream for President and Mrs. Fox of Mexico; ginger-almond ice cream for President and Mrs. Kwasniewski of Poland; and a mango-coconut (again!) “lei” to President and Mr. Arroyo of the Philippines.

Obviously, this is the perfect stuff for a Washington 4th of July.

But first you’ll need an ice cream maker. You can still find the occasional hand-cranked model around, but they tend to be expensive and too large, in addition to demanding. Today, almost everyone makes ice cream in an electric machine that relies on a coolant-filled sealed bucket, reminiscent of a huge thermos. You have to plan ahead with one of these, chilling them overnight in the freezer. But once it’s ready, there’s nothing more convenient.

With your machine unpacked – or pulled out of the basement where it’s sat since the wedding -- and the bucket cooling quiescently in the freezer, it’s time to figure out what to make. A cookbook or on-line search will turn up a bewildering spectrum of frozen desserts, involving various combinations of fruit, sweetener, egg yolk or white, flavoring agents, cream and milk.

So, follow Emerson’s command to simplify accept only two frozen desserts: sorbet and ice cream. Sorbet made with pureed fruit or with fruit juice, natural sweetener and, sometimes, a background flavor which may include fresh herbs or liquor. And ice cream made of eggs, cream and milk, combined into a custard base, and flavored as you see fit.

Ice cream is bass, sorbet is treble. Which one to serve depends on your mood, what’s available in the market, and what diets your guests are on. In an Atkins era, butterfat-laden ice cream is almost dietetically correct. For everyone else, sorbet is as close to health food as you can get while still feeding a sweet tooth.

If you’ve never made either, start with sorbet. Just puree and strain the ripest, most luscious fruit you can find – summer berries are perfect. Add a pinch of salt, and honey or a simple syrup, and a hint of something that contrasts with the main ingredient -- a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar for strawberries, perhaps, or lime juice for mango. Navigate by your own taste buds.

Ice cream seems a little more complex, until you’ve made a crème anglaise – the custard cream at the base of great ice cream – a couple of times. But it’s actually pretty simple. Beat sugar into egg yolks until it dissolves. Boil a half milk-half heavy cream mixture. Pour the boiling cream into the eggs all at once, whisking relentlessly, and then returning the mixture to the pot. Stir over very low heat until the crème anglaise coats the back of a wooden spoon.

In either case, chill the resulting mixture to refrigerator temperature before pouring it into the machine. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions, and add any solid flavorings just before you turn the machine off. Scoop it into a chilled container and harden in the freezer.

For best results, eat a light summer dinner on your patio or back porch, while dessert chills, toasting the wisdom of Washington, Jefferson and Madison, and cultivating Washington’s summer weather like an old friend…the only thing that can improve your homemade treat is a hot summer evening to eat it on. No wonder the founders were screaming for ice cream.

And remember: without stabilizers and additives, homemade desserts can turn pretty solid overnight, and the flavors fade fast. So eat lots. And don’t forget to wash the bucket and freeze it before you turn in -- you’ll want to make more tomorrow.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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not sure yet where I'm going to go with this cook-off (there are SO many tasty options, and I may yield the keyboard to Bill who is usually the maker of Ice-Cream in our house) but I'll start with a question on how to fix a previous failure.

We have thornless blackberries in our yard (conveniently fruiting right now!) and last year we tried to make an ice-cream with them, per our usual mix of fresh fruit pureed with creme anglais, but the berry flavor really dissapeared in the final product :sad: I dont remember the exact proportion, but I really don't think it was a shortage of berry to creme, it was just like the berry flavor watered down when pureed & frozen. Any suggestions to counterbalance this? I don't want to waste most of a years harvest (we only get about 1/2 to 1 gallon of berries total) on an inferior product when I could just gorge on raw berries instead & make better ice-cream with something else...

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Nice post, Busboy, and you make the case perfectly. There's nothing like homemade ice cream from real, truly ripe, fresh fruit. And the fresh fruit is finally coming in, so this cook-off has excellent timing!

Not to contradict Busboy so much as confirm something Chris said: an ice cream maker is not absolutely required. Does anyone else remember coffee-can ice cream? It's an old scout trick. A large coffee can packed with ice and salt, with a smaller (and well-sealed) coffee can inside, will do in a pinch. I don't remember anything going inside with the batter to provide agitation as a paddle would. Recently a friend sent me a link to a commercial take-off of this same idea: UCO Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker (review)

That said, I always use electric ice cream makers, and I have at least two - one that requires rock salt and one with a frozen canister. I may have gotten rid of the third when its motor was failing. I rather wish now I'd taken the old hand-crank model when Mom and Dad were clearing out the house, but in a fit of realism I let it go.

I'm looking forward to seeing what people do in the way of sorbets; I have some wonderful fresh fruit ice cream recipes, but haven't played with sorbet or its variants.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Eden, I haven't tried berry ice cream like yours but I have a few ideas. First, I'm not sure why you think you had the right proportions of berry to cream, if the berry flavor seemed watered down. What proportions did you use?

Other possible ways to work with these berries - these are ideas I haven't tried: make sorbet (see my post above, I want to learn about this for the dairy- or fat-intolerant among my friends); add just a touch of lemon juice to brighten the berry flavor when pureeing; try adding the berries at the last minute, whole, to the custard. Would any of those work?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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not sure yet where I'm going to go with this cook-off (there are SO many tasty options, and I may yield the keyboard to Bill who is usually the maker of Ice-Cream in our house) but I'll start with a question on how to fix a previous failure.

We have thornless blackberries in our yard (conveniently fruiting right now!) and last year we tried to make an ice-cream with them, per our usual mix of fresh fruit pureed with creme anglais, but the berry flavor really dissapeared in the final product  :sad:  I dont remember the exact proportion, but I really don't think it was a shortage of berry to creme, it was just like the berry flavor watered down when pureed & frozen.  Any suggestions to counterbalance this?  I don't want to waste most of a years harvest (we only get about 1/2 to 1 gallon of berries total)  on an inferior product when I could just gorge on raw berries instead & make better ice-cream with something else...

I personally prefer to put fruit into sorbets, or to serve a good ice cream with fresh fruit (Cinnamon Ice Cream and fresh peaches...mmmmmmm), rather than make fruit ice creams, partially for the reason you describe and partly because I don't like biting into little frozen chunks of fruit. Other disagree.

Were you able to strain significant pulp and seed out of the berries (without losing too much volume and juice)? I fond that this helps concentrate the flavor. Also, I wouldn't be afraid to dissolve a little sugar and the tiniest pinch of salt into the puree/juice before adding it to the mix.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Eden, I haven't tried berry ice cream like yours but I have a few ideas.  First, I'm not sure why you think you had the right proportions of berry to cream, if the berry flavor seemed watered down.  What proportions did you use? 

Other possible ways to work with these berries - these are ideas I haven't tried:  make sorbet (see my post above, I want to learn about this for the dairy- or fat-intolerant among my friends); add just a touch of lemon juice to brighten the berry flavor when pureeing; try adding the berries at the last minute, whole, to the custard.  Would any of those work?

I felt as though the balance was right because the puree looked right based on our experience making previous fruit ice creams, matched a ratio from a reasonable recipe source, and most importantly it had the right mouthfeel...

I'm pretty sure we tossed in a bit of lemon though at this distance of time I won't swear to it.

The mixing the berries in whole suggestion is very close to my current theory which is to make a sweet berry puree and just swirl it into a near finished vanilla ice-cream. Blackberry-swirl sounds pretty tasty to me :rolleyes:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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OK, this is a classic case of "them that can't-teach" but let's all make some serious effort to put the recipes into RecipeGullet. Ice cream recipes are pretty easy, so they shouldn't take long and it a good way to get in the habit.

Of course, I am really just trying to convince myself of this, I always forget to go back and put them in.

Now, on to the ice cream- I think that anything that broadly qualifies should be considered. I would love to see some frozen desserts from outside of the usual sources. What's ice cream like in Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, etc?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a heaping bowl of vanilla. So don't pay any attention to me.

Carry on.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Now, on to the ice cream- I think that anything that broadly qualifies should be considered. I would love to see some frozen desserts from outside of the usual sources. What's ice cream like in Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, etc?

Yes, that's right. You just have to explain why it's actually ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet, kulfi... you name it. I ran out of space on the title!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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This thread is as good a reason as any to make some sorbet. I picked up some last-of-the-season meyer lemons at the farmers market Saturday, sorbet seems like good use for them.

1.jpg

Make some simple syrup (1c sugar, 2c water, bring to a boil and chill)

2.jpg

Juice the lemons (1c juice)

3.jpg

Mix the juice and the syrup together and pour into the machine.

4.jpg

Half an hour later this is what it looks like.

5.jpg

I had to have a scoop before putting the rest of it in the freezer.

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I am excited about this cook-off. I acquired a Donvier ice-cream maker out of my SO's parents' basement this winter, and I have been looking for inspiration to use it.

My all time favourite "ice-cream" is a creme caramel flavoured gelato, made by this Toronto-based company: GelatoFresco.com. When I am not in Toronto, I usually can't find it.

The only ice-cream I've made so far was a dulce de leche flavour. The flavour was nice, but not what I was looking for. I want a strong almost-burnt sugar taste of caramel, not a milky caramel taste. Plus, the texture of the ice-cream was somewhat "chewy," which I understand often happens with egg-based ice-creams.

So, if anyone can help me with quest to find the perfect carmel gelato/ice-cream recipe, I'd appreciate some input!

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I personally prefer to put fruit into sorbets, or to serve a good ice cream with fresh fruit (Cinnamon Ice Cream and fresh peaches...mmmmmmm), rather than make fruit ice creams, partially for the reason you describe and partly because I don't like biting into little frozen chunks of fruit.  Other disagree.

To avoid the icyness, macerate your fruit before adding it. It draws out a lot of the moisture.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Do tell, Dave. What is it? Why that one? How'd it work? Inquiring minds, etc. etc.

Cuisinart counter-top thing with a built-in freezer, because a friend gave it to me, and great. I've had an icecream maker with a freezer bowl for years and have always been happy with the results but this one does a much better job. It doesn't frost up on the sides, the finished product has a better texture, and its much easier to clean.

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About two decades back, a company in Australia started selling soft-serve ice cream (if it can be called that) made only from fruit and some type of gum they were using as a stabilizer. No sugar or anything else whatsoever. The flavors on offer varied according to whatever fruit was most available at that particular time, but peach and apricot were (to my mind) the best.

It was absolutely delicious, with absolutely nothing masking the flavor of the fruit. After eating it, you felt that sugar, milk, etc. in conventional ice cream were just getting in the way of the flavor. Really. After it, you didn't want to go back to eating ice cream.

In texture, it was just like ice cream, not like sorbet.

It has since disappeared from the market. I went back to Australia on my last visit with high hopes, and couldn't find it anywhere. All of the snack bars and such places that used to sell it no longer stock it. The product sold in supermarkets under the original name is now a very ho-hum sorbet with a host of other ingredients added.

Anyone inspired by this? Want to help me search for the holy grail of fruit 'ice cream'? According to the company way back when, all it contained was fruit, and a gum that they resolutely kept secret.

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Here is a pic of the best vanilla ice cream I ever made, topped with the best caramel sauce. Both recipes from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. The secret to Yard's sauce is the use of creme fraiche or sour cream and a little lemon juice. This ice cream has the virtue of staying soft in the freezer, due to its high fat content. IIRC, the base has 3C cream to 1C milk.

gallery_23736_355_12516.jpg

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I personally prefer to put fruit into sorbets, or to serve a good ice cream with fresh fruit (Cinnamon Ice Cream and fresh peaches...mmmmmmm), rather than make fruit ice creams, partially for the reason you describe and partly because I don't like biting into little frozen chunks of fruit.  Other disagree.

To avoid the icyness, macerate your fruit before adding it. It draws out a lot of the moisture.

Good tip. Thanks.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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