• The Olive Branch

I say ice, you say cream... ICE CREAM

Now that I have your attention from my somewhat generic title, I just have to tell you about my homemade ice cream love affair. One of my most favorite purchases of 2019 has been my Cuisinart ice cream maker. It has not been so good for my quest for a summer bod, but who cares when you're eating homemade thin mint ice cream. Homemade ice cream is one of those indulgences that can transport you back to a time and place filled with fondness and good memories. Or at least that's what it does for me. I grew up in Texas where there was Blue Bell in our freezer all the time, which in my opinion, is how every household should be. But my most favorite memory of me and ice cream is my Granny always making homemade vanilla and instilling in all her grandkids a cardinal rule-- dessert before dinner, always. She'd constantly scoop us big bowls of her famous vanilla ice cream before we'd all have to sit down for dinner. It's a small notion that I've adopted all too well in my adulthood-- life's short, eat the treats.

Making ice cream seems like daunting task but it's really not as hard as you'd think. Once you get the hang of it, it's almost a little too easy to fill your freezer with your homemade treats. Trust me, you'll find any excuse to make another round of frozen delights. Birthdays, anniversaries, a random Tuesday... you name it.

Okay first things first, you'll want to make a creme anglaise (this is just for custard based ice cream). What is a creme anglaise you ask? Besides literally translating to "English cream", it's a custard base for a lot of desserts such as creme brûlée, ice cream, or pudding. Once you master this step, everything that comes after is easy breezy. A good creme anglaise has 5 ingredients and takes only about 15 minutes to master. For mine, I use a good heavy cream, whole milk (although I have been known to use almond milk in a pinch and it worked just fine), sugar, salt, and egg yolks. The most important step in the creme anglaise stage is tempering your egg mixture as well as straining it. No one wants chunks of scrambled eggs here, just trust me. Once you have your custard base, the ice cream process will be smooth sailing from here. The custard has to cool completely before you put it into an ice cream machine, so this is where I usually add my vanilla bean to let it steep if I'm doing a vanilla based ice cream. I would suggest putting your cream mixture on an ice bath as well as in the fridge for maximum cool down. If you want to go the non-vanilla route, this is when you can prepare all your favorite toppings!

Get creative, that's what's most fun about making your own. Everyone knows cookies and cream and mint chocolate chip are yummy classics, but throw everyone a curve ball with your own style! During Girl Scout season, I did a thin mint version of mint chocolate chip that makes me drool just think about it. Another good use for an ice cream maker is sorbet. Don't even get me started on the experiments I've been doing with my version of frosé sorbet. Yes, it has rosé, because hello- rosé all day people. Making things yourself gives you a sense of pride, especially when you get to share your creations with people. Grab a spoon and get churning!

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