On the other hand, they've pushed the price of ice cream way up -- often to $5 and $7 a pint (!). And the biggest advantage they give is making unusual flavors.
So...it occurred to me that it -might-, just might, be time to get my own ice cream maker. A bit of research (actually, I think Amazon may have suggested it when I was looking for an insertion blender,
My first attempt, yesterday, was...not so good. I somehow decided to try a relatively healthy recipe, but it involved custard--I've never made custard before--plus I made a bunch of dubious choices along the way (doubling the recipe--without having double all the ingredients, so I made some replacements and it didn't turn into full soft serve in the mixer...the result is a perfectly serviceable chocolate habinero sorbet (definitely dairy); edible, naturally, but aside from the fun flavor combination, not as good as ice cream that hasn't got too-large crystals.
So naturally, I decided to try again (with a different flavor) today -- apple cinnamon.
I made a few changes to my process:
1. I turned the freezer up to 4.5 (out of 5) from 3. The freezer would typically burn ice cream at 5, so I think 5 would be too much, but even at 24 hours, I thought the bowl could use a bit more cold.
2. I used a recipe that didn't involve custard (and isn't even a little bit healthy -- but the point was to make amazing ice cream, not healthy ice cream. Healthy is for portion control). Specifically, this recipe:
http://www.annies-eats.com/2011/07/08/vanilla-bean-ice-cream-two-ways-and-ice-cream-basics/ (quick summary: melt 3/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt into a cup of cream, add some flavoring if desired, then add another cup of cream, a cup of whole milk and fridge the result until cool. Then turn into ice cream with an ice cream machine or process of choice).
3. I made about half as much ice cream (eg, I didn't touch the quantities in the recipe at all; I'm guessing I ran out of cold last time as -one- of the several mistakes I made).
The result? Some of the best ice cream I've ever had -- and I've been to Jeni's, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and Baitcon. I'll have to see what it's like once it's been in the fridge for a day, but as fresh soft serve it's out of this world.
Changes I made to the above recipe:
1. Obviously, I replaced the vanilla with cinnamon. Instead of adding vanilla bean and extract, I added two teaspoons of cinnamon powder and dropped a cinnamon stick in the heated cream.
2. Looking for advice for creamy ice cream online, I saw one to put a bit of alcohol to prevent it from fully freezing -- so in went 2/3 of a tablespoon of Pyat rum after chilling the batter.
3. The apples. I chopped four Granny Smith apples, with peel, (food processed about an apple's worth and just sliced the rest), then popped the result into the microwave for a minute and fridged it before I started the batter. After the batter had decidedly turned into ice cream (in fact, at this point most of it was apparently clinging to the dasher, I added apple bits and apple mash (what the finely chopped apples had turned into after their visit to the inside of the microwave) until the bowl was nearly full, and let the kitchenaid mix the result (spinning at speed 2, now) for another minute or three.
I'm pretty much having to write to restrain myself from sampling more of the soft serve in the freezer (fortunately, there -is- some stuck to the dasher still, but drcpunk has been making some headway there as well, so I don't have much time).
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