Monthly Archives: April 2008

>How ice cream freezes

>This is in answer to Sebastian6’s question:

“Could you, at some point, please expand on the notion of whether a mixture will freeze or not? I was always under the impression that almost everything freezes except alcohol when you bring it below 32 degrees. Does cream have trouble freezing? Is it the sugar? When something doesn’t freeze what does it, in fact, do? Does it just take longer to freeze?”


When you freeze ice cream this is what happens:

1) The water in the product (dairy, fruit, etc) freezes.

2) The ice cream machine whips AIR into the cream as the product freezes- like when you make whipped cream. This creates what is called the RISE– the ice cream will literally rise up out of the machine as it freezes. With my machine I know my ice cream is done when it literally rises out of the top of the plastic cover of the machine.

– The rise is important because it makes an airy creamy dessert. Otherwise you’ll just be eating at ice cube- like a popsicle. If you want to experience this try freezing some of your extra base without the machine. It tastes good, but the texture isn’t the same.

– The rise is doubly important because this is how commercial ice cream makers abuse the ice cream process. They whip tons of air into the product so that it’s very light; when you buy commercially made ice cream you are PAYING FOR AIR. If you lift a pint of commercial ice cream and a pint of my homemade ice cream mine tends to weigh at least 2x as much.

– David Leibovitz describes making ice cream without an ice cream maker by stirring the base as it freezes with a fork (every half hour or so). Or blasting it with a hand blender. Either way, you’ll seperate the ice crystals, but you won’t get nearly as much rise.

3) The SUGAR in the ice cream gets between the water molecules as they freeze into an icy structure. This keeps the product soft and pliable. Alcohol does exactly the same thing, but with more gusto.

Now think about what happens when you freeze a sugar solution such as honey or maple syrup. Some of the water in the solution might seperate and freeze, but since there is so much sugar suspended in the liquid you’re also going to be left with a sticky and very stiff but not entirely frozen substance. It would freeze at a colder temperature, but most home fridges don’t get cold enough.

So my honey ice cream had far too much sugar in it to allow the base to freeze. I actually ran it through the machine separately twice before I realized what was going on (I have to clean the bowl, allow it to dry completely, and then freeze it for 24hrs each time I want to use it). When I added the extra cup of cream I added enough water to the mix that the ice crystals were able to form around the sugar and the base froze properly. Hopefully my molasses ice cream won’t have this problem since I’m aware of the issue and was proactive in my avoidance of it.

I believe Alton Brown has an episode where this is demonstrated by slow dancing teenagers and overbearing chaperones.


>Deconstructed Gingerbread Ice Cream

>So in accordance with my LJ poll re: what ice cream I should make next and some of the discussion that went along with it I decided to make Blackstrap Molasses and Candied Peanut Ice Cream.

But when I went to Sahara Mart where I had last seen these peanuts they no longer carried them. They had honey roasted peanuts and cinnamon roasted peanuts, honeyed almonds and cinnamon almonds. None of which were what I wanted. So I picked up a bag of candied ginger instead and went along with plan B.

For the base I started with a basic 2 cups of cream, 1 cup of milk mixture. I thought I’d be able to only use molasses to sweeten the base, but I was worried that by the time I got enough of it into the mix to make it really sweet I’d have a lot of trouble with the mixture not really freezing (per last year’s Goat Cheese and Honey ice cream that required an extra cup of lightly whipped cream before it would freeze).

So I used brown sugar for most of the sweetness and did end up adding a considerable amount of molasses to the mixture, whereupon it became very very thick. Seeing that I hadn’t made the custard yet I decided to add more whole milk. I achieved a consistency that I deemed appropriate after I added two extra cups of whole milk. At that point I made the custard by whisking like a motherf****r

At this point I have way more volume of than will run in my ice cream machine at once, which is actually okay by me since I need to bring some of this to work on Friday for a potluck and now I’ll have extra to bring to some of those other molasses lovers in my life. Wadam, you can expect a container of it in your near future.

The final recipe at this point is:
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 3 cups whole milk
– 2 vanilla beans
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– I have no idea how much molasses is in there at this point, but definitely more than 1/2 cup.

I’ll see tonight if it freezes. If not I’ll resort to that adding the extra cup of lightly whipped cream solution.

The base color is a BEAUTIFUL color from the molasses, it looks like gingerbread. I tasted it with a chip of the candied ginger in it. This is not one of my more stellar experiments, but it’s a good idea and I’m pretty sure that it will get eaten.

other thoughts
I’d had a gingerbread ice cream that I enjoyed a few years ago at the [highly successful] Ben and Jerry’s store in State College. I have the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cookbook (thank you .50cent garage sale) so I looked in there to see if there was a recipe to inspire me. Now all I can think is, “Man, Ben and Jerry’s is LAME.” All of their recipes use what they call a “sweet cream base”. A few recipes add chocolate to it, one recipe calls for incorporating peanut butter. That’s it, everything else is just that sweet cream base with stuff floating in it (more commonly known as a Mix In).

Lame. All of the more interesting ice cream recipes experiment with a flavored base: They use an unusual type of sugar (brown, honey, molasses, date molasses, rice syrup, agave syrup, etc), or they entirely incorporate some component (creamy cheeses, preserves, nut butters), or they’re blended with a fruit, or they’re infused with a herb or spice.

Ben and Jerry, you are lame-o nutter butters.


>I’ve been feeling really boring in my cooking lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t found a crazy new ingredient to experiment with lately. Or maybe it’s because I feel so rushed when I cook. Maybe I’m finally tired of making weird pizzas. Maybe I just made my crazy mango sauce too many times and feel like I overdid the Caribbean bit.


Luckily I think inspiration is in sight. The new cable company had called recently to tell us that we had a few cable channels turned on whether we liked it or not (we didn’t want to pay for it even though we have a cable modem). But last night for the hell of it beatnik and I decided to try hooking it up so that maybe we could watch Lost for free instead of downloading it.

I can’t tell yet if they made a mistake or if my idea of basic cable is just really different from theirs. But we have 60-some channels now. Including Food Network and Bravo….so I can watch Top Chef 4 even though I’ve missed almost all of the season.

Maybe something will click. Some new technique or combination or ingredient.

God I hope so, cause right now I can’t even think of an ice cream flavor I really want to try.


>Update on beer ice cream.

>So for my ice cream batch this week I made a David Leibovitz recipe for Milk Chocolate and Guinness Ice Cream. Actually finding the time to make it was difficult, the recipe called for only 3/4 cup of beer and I clearly wouldn’t want to pour the rest of the beer down the drain. Usually I make an ice cream base in the morning or the early afternoon, chill it overnight, and run it the next morning while getting ready for work. That way it’s hardpacked by dinner.

The thing is, we have a league policy about drinking before skating and I skated both Sat and Sun nights. Hence I didn’t make the base until Mon night.

As for the ice cream itself: I don’t care for Guinness, I think it’s bitter and watery. So I substituted my most favorite beer MacKisonn’s XXX Stout. It’s a triple milk stout and it’s very thick, very dark, very malty, and has overtones of coffee. Yum. This is what I call a GREAT beer.

The ice cream was simple:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2tsp vanilla
3/4 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup beer
7 oz finely chopped milk chocolate (I wish I’d bought a higher-quality chocolate)

You make the traditional custard with only the milk and then you pour the heated custard over the chocolate. You whisk in the cream, beer, vanilla, and chill.

The texture is very light, almost foamy (probably from the beer). The color is a light brown. The flavor is beautiful, it’s one of those recipes where the unusual ingredient definitely adds something specific to the final product, but you wouldn’t know that it was there unless I told you.

Beer ice cream success!!!

Pictures to follow.

>On Vegetarianism and Being

>A good friend (whose opinion I respect) recommended that I read the blog of her boyfriend (who I usually like). The blog seems to mostly consist of political rants of sorts, along with some extra rants and some just-for fun rants. Which is fine, blogs are meant for ranting.

Unfortunately one of his more recent entries consisted mainly of trashing a bunch of vegans who are busy trashing Anthony Bordain in response to the particularly-aggressive vegan-trashing that Bordain wrote in Kitchen Confidential.

All of which of course gets my hackles up just the way it was intended.

So here’s my fricking piece on vegetarianism.

I have been a vegetarian for 16yrs and yes, that is since I was 11. I eat no fish. I do eat dairy and eggs though I try my damnedest to purchase products I believe to be produced locally and with less cruelty.

I don’t give a flying frick if you’re a vegetarian or not. If you are a vegetarian, or if you’re comfortable eating vegetarian foods I’m going to have an easier time cooking for/with you or dining with you. If you eat meat that’s fine, it’s your choice. I hope you put as much choice into your consumption and selection of meat-products as I have into my elimination of these products. If you’ve made a choice that’s compassionate in a way that makes you feel comfortable with yourself, then good for you.

If I come to eat at your house I do not feel guilty about my dietary requirements. I will warn you in advance, I will bring a food offering that I can definitely eat, I will thank you for the wonderful meal. I don’t want to explain my choice at every meal and I certainly don’t want to be cross-examined about my decision. If I can’t eat your food, I won’t eat your food. That’s all. If I am traveling I will learn how to say that I don’t eat meat in the local language. If a mistake happens on my part or on the part of someone producing the food I consume I will certainly be disappointed, but I will not hate myself because I am doing the best I can.

As a long-term vegetarian I have no problem maintaining my weight (so long as I am not forced to use certain prescription medicines). My blood pressure is so low that each person who measures it remarks upon it. My cholesterol is also very low. I have plenty of energy to exercise in a manner that suits my level of physical fitness.

I am (in my own opinion) an excellent cook. I am thoughtful about what I make in terms of flavor, nutrition, and culture. I read and learn about food constantly. Sometimes I make or use an imitation meat product, often to add some sort of protein to my meal. And why not? As described by Sarah Kramer, faux animal products are, “Tasty, healthy, and cruelty-free.”

Why am I a vegetarian? I have a personal issue with eating the flesh of other animals- that’s my issue. I believe that animals raised for food in America are horribly mistreated, and I think that is a problem affecting all US citizens. I believe that worldwide if resources were used to raise plant matter for people to eat rather than feeding animals no one on this planet would need to go hungry.

If you don’t believe those things, please find your own moral agenda and stick with it.

And I dare you to leave my table hungry.