Monday, April 28, 2008

Maple Ice Cream with lots of bits in

I mentioned a few posts back that I've been looking through some ice cream cookbooks for interesting recipes. This one comes from Bruce Weinstein's Ultimate Ice Cream Book. And like the recipe I made from David Lebovitz' Perfect Scoop it was praised so much more than my original creations that I'm of a mind to stop making ice cream altogether (or at least stop sharing it with my coworkers).

Weinstein does a couple interesting things in his recipe that I haven't seen elsewhere: making the custard with less than half of the total dairy and adding a couple teaspoons of flour. I can see the latter helping thicken the ice cream, but I'm not sure what effect the former would have. Other than, by leaving most of the dairy cold, speeding the cooling process enough to turn ice cream making from a three day to a two day process which might be reason enough on its own.

I should note that despite the good reception the ice cream got, it would have been rather dull without mix-ins. Maple is a familiar and rather simple flavor that needs a bit of help to sustain interest. Weinstein pads his book's recipe count with a half dozen minor variations. It was difficult to put my own twist on it when he thought of a bunch of them first. I decided to use three of them by mixing in chunks of frozen banana, peanut butter candies (Weinstein suggests Mary Janes but I couldn't find any. I don't think I've seen any Necco-produced candies in Miami; maybe they don't distribute this far south. I used the crunchy wafer-y peanut butter candies you see in bags on pegs in the corner bodegas and I think they worked better. Mary Janes are chewy and probably stiffen up when frozen. The candies I used retained their crunch which was a nice contrast.) and candied pecans. I had some raw pecans leftover from a rocky road ice cream I made (with difficulty as my freezer was having difficulty maintaining below-freezing temperatures) a couple weeks back. To candy them I just tossed them with brown sugar, salt and butter and baked them at 350 degrees for ten minutes. I used plenty of salt to add some extra flavor interest to the ice cream. I also wanted to add a bit of hot sauce just for little extra kick, but I forgot. But if I was going to go that route I really should have skipped the candy and included chunks of breakfast sausage instead. Hmm...they probably wouldn't freeze well, would they?

I think having all three mix-ins, and plenty of them, really elevated the ice cream so I should feel a little better about it than I actually do. And a maple ice cream isn't all that hard to make smooth and creamy. The textural difficulties I've been having with my ice cream recipes come more from using yams or sapotes or whatever as structural components.

Anyway, here's Weinstein's recipe and you can decide for yourself what you think:

Maple Ice Cream

6 large egg yolks
1 cup maple syrup (I used grade A dark which is a little strong for pouring on pancakes but good for this sort of thing)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups light cream (I used heavy cream as a) that's what I've got and b) what sort of wimpy ice cream uses light cream?)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the maple syrup, flour and salt. Set aside.

2. Bring the half-and-half to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Slowly beat the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture. Return to saucepan and heat on low heat. Stir constantly until custard thickens slightly (170 degrees).

3. Pour the custard into a large clean bowl (through a strainer if you overshot and your eggs scrambled. If there's just a little thickened layer on the bottom of the pan don't strain it out as it's useful in thickening the mix and will get broken down during churning).

4. Cool slightly, then stir in cream and vanilla. Cover and chill to 40 degrees. (Usually this takes a night, but with this technique I'll bet it could be done in four hours.)

5. Churn in the usual way and mix in whatever you want to mix in. Ripen overnight in freezer.

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