Everyone should have an ice cream maker. I know that’s a bold statement. You’re probably saying, “But I just buy some at the store” or “it’s just too much work!” or maybe “Get real, Joanna!” I am dead serious, people! Making your own ice cream will change your life. It is nothing like the frozen crap that’s pumped full of air that you get at the store, or the $15 pint of artisanal ice cream with diamond shards in it. Surprise! That’s really freezer burn.
This past Monday, I got a hankering for ice cream and there was none in the house. I hadn’t yet pulled the machine out the for the summer so I thought what the hell!? Let’s do this!
Making ice cream is pretty easy. It involves making a custard out of milk, cream, sugar and eggs, adding your flavorings and then putting the cooled mixture into the machine. The trick is in the making of the custard. Take it slow and never boil the milk-cream-sugar mixture. Next, you’ll add the hot custard mixture ladle by ladle in a slow stream into the eggs while whisking constantly. This is called tempering your eggs. The goal is to bring your eggs close to the temperature of your cream. Otherwise, you’ll have scrambled eggs on your hands. It sounds more complicated than it is. I was honestly scared the first time I did this! Just take it SLOW. No one is in a rush – except you are because you want this damn ice cream in your face already! Just kidding! Don’t rush.
Once you add about a third, maybe a little more, of the mixture into the eggs while whisking, you pour it back into the pot and let it slowly cook and thicken. Watch it like a hawk. Whisk. Don’t blink! There is a fine line between beautiful silky custard and, once again, scrambled eggs. Once your custard thickens a bit and coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove it from the heat, strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps, and you’re good to go with any of your additives. Chocolate, vanilla, fruit, et al! Customize it to your tastes.
Since this is a beer site, my loves, I decided I wanted to make a beer ice cream! I had never tasted one but it sounded delicious. I settled on chocolate ice cream doused with stout. But which one? It needed to have the right body, roasted aroma and flavor, and I wanted notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. I proceeded with a taste test without considering that it was 1:30PM on a Monday and these beers were going to be really strong. It was a grand time! I sampled several different stouts and finally settled on a bottle of 2013 Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout. It had everything I wanted in terms of body, flavor and aroma.
When using beer or alcohol in any frozen dessert, you must consider that the alcohol will inhibit the freezing. Because of that, you’ve got to cook it out of the beer. I cooked the cup of beer I used down by about half. Narwhal is pretty strong and “in the raw” has a little bit of a boozy smell to it. The profile of the aroma changed a bit after cooking. It smelled more strongly of black coffee, bitter chocolate and dark molasses. Adding the beer didn’t affect the quality of the ice cream and the beer flavors came through nicely in the end. The beer comes through as you’re eating the ice cream and not as a pronounced forward flavor. It is a pleasant surprise!
CHOCOLATE IMPERIAL STOUT ICE CREAM
Makes about 1 quart
1 cup stout
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (this is important. Whole milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Add stout to small pot on medium high heat and boil. Be careful as the beer will foam as it boils. If it gets a little crazy just take it off the heat and stir. Reduce by about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Separate egg yolks into a medium bowl. Set aside. Keep your whites for an omelet the next day! So good!
Get a large bowl to create ice bath – mostly ice and very little water. Prepare another smaller heat safe bowl to receive the custard once it is done. You’ll be placing one bowl with the custard into the bowl with the ice bath then the whole thing in the fridge. You can use this to cool your custard quickly. Alternately, you can put the custard in a large freezer bag and put it into the ice bath to cool it. You can also allow the custard to cool overnight in the fridge without an ice bath.
Add cream, milk, salt and sugar into a medium pot and whisk on medium low heat. Bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Add cream mixture one ladle at a time into eggs whisking constantly making sure eggs do not curdle. Keep going until you’ve added about a third to a half of the cream mixture to the eggs.
Return the mixture into the pot and put back on the heat.
Simmer gently but do not boil, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps. Pay attention to thickness of custard. It should take about 10 minutes for the custard to thicken. Check thickness on the back of a wooden spoon. The custard should coat the wooden spoon and should not rejoin if you run your finger through it. You can also check the temperature. The max temperature for a custard is 175F without breaking it (turning to scrambled eggs).
Once the custard has thickened appropriately remove it immediately from the heat and add the beer syrup and chocolate chips. Whisk until the chips are melted.
Add the custard into the prepared ice bath bowls/bag. To prevent a skin from forming, put plastic wrap on the surface of the custard (see pic above). Let cool completely before adding into the ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for freezing the custard in your machine.
DARK CHOCOLATE SAUCE
Makes about 1 pint
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup unsweeted cocoa powder
3 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter, cut into a few chunks
Put the first 4 ingredients together in a medium pot and whisk together. Bring to a boil then remove immediately from heat. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until they melt. Add butter chunks, a couple at a time and whisk until melted. You’re ready to put this ISH on everything.
Letting this cool helps it thicken up a bit but it will be a thinner sauce. If you want a thicker sauce, cut the water in half.
Store in a jar in the fridge and warm gently before serving again. Or just eat it out of the jar cold!