Frozen goodness

With summer finally approaching, I've spent the last week experimenting with frozen desserts. The winner so far? A resounding victory for chocolate ice cream, with vanilla coming second. I can't get anyone to try my tropical icy poles, but that might have something to do with the litre of ice cream that's still in the freezer.

Interestingly enough, the chocolate ice cream wasn't made with a churn. Firstly because there was way too much of it to fit in the machine. Second of all, because the vanilla just wouldn't churn properly. It's not done much to further my argument that we need to invest in a Cuisinart soft serve maker. If you have a churn, use it, but I'd strongly recommend whipping the mixture before churning. It really increases the volume and makes the end product feel a lot lighter.

Chocolate Ice Cream
This is by far the best chocolate ice cream I've ever made. It's super chocolatey, incredibly creamy, and just has a fantastic feel to it. It takes a while, but it's definitely worth the effort. We might never buy commercial chocolate ice cream again.

The following makes just over 2 litres.

8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
180 g dark cooking chocolate
600 ml cream
600 ml milk
2 tbspn cocoa
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in saucepan with cream, milk, cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla. Heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate has melted. Bring to scalding point. The mixture will separate into a dark chocolate layer and a lighter foamy layer on top. Meanwhile, combine yolks and sugar, and beat until pale and creamy. Remove hot chocolate mix from heat and add quarter to a half to egg mix. Whisk to ensure eggs don't start cooking. Return combined eggs and chocolate to saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Don't allow the mix to boil - it will curdle. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Chill a minimum of two hours, preferably overnight. When completely chilled, whip on highest setting of an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. The mix should resemble a liquid chocolate mousse. Place in freezer and allow to partially set - the sides should be frozen while the centre is still liquid. About one hour, depending on your settings. Place in a chilled bowl, and whip again. The mix will liquify. You can give in to temptation at this point and sample what the almost finished product will taste like. Return to freezer for another hour or two, and serve when completely set.

For a Mars Bar variation, serve with toffee flavoured topping. Yum!

Vanilla Ice Cream
The vanilla ice cream uses a custard base like the chocolate. This gives it a richness without the cloying fattiness of a whipped cream base ice cream. The secret to good vanilla is to use the best vanilla you can find. Queens does a vanilla bean paste which saves the trouble of splitting and scraping a bean. One teaspoon of paste is the equivalent of a single bean. Vanilla essence will do the job, but imitation essence really isn't going to give you the right flavour.

The following gives around one litre. I'd make more, only living with a chocoholic means vanilla doesn't get the appreciation it deserves.

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
300 ml cream
250 ml milk
1 tspn vanilla bean paste

Combine cream, milk and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to scalding point, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy. Remove milk from heat, and add around half to egg mixture, whisking to avoid the eggs cooking. Return eggs and milk to saucepan, and cook stirring until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Don't allow it to boil. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely. Chill until cold, then whip on highest setting of your electric mixer. Place in freezer, and allow to partially set. Whip and freeze again, allowing the ice cream to reach the level of softness you prefer.

Serve with fruit - this is too good to add topping.

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