July is official “ice cream” month! And the home-made variety has been at the top of the list of delicious summer indulgences for ages. Obviously it tastes great, but also, in the old days ice cream making was somewhat of a chore. When someone went to the trouble of making homemade ice cream it was anticipated and appreciated by everyone.
Do you remember those days? Mom prepared the milk, sugar and egg mixture on the stove top and Dad poured it into the canister of the ice cream maker, packed the wooden bucket with rock salt and ice and manually cranked the ice cream maker under a back-yard shade tree until it had hardened.
All the kids wanted their turn at cranking the machine and our dads let us give it a try although we were likely just in the way. Turning the handle of the ice cream machine repeatedly required a little more muscle than young arms had developed.
Later the machines became electric, negating the need for arm muscle, but still a rather messy process requiring ice and salt.
Those days may be gone, but the joy of delicious home made ice cream has never been more popular. With the variety of new, counter-top ice cream makers on the market, it is easier than ever to have home-made ice cream. There is a machine to fit every budget and taste—inexpensive to expensive and traditional to soft serve. There is even a vintage style maker to bring back childhood memories.
In the last few years and especially this year, there seems to be a surge in making ice cream at home and in gourmet flavors using liquors, herbs and more. The same goes for ice cream toppings.
Anne Pogson was the first place winner of last year’s ice cream churn-off at Central Christian Church in Dallas. The churn-off is an annual church event held each summer.
Last Year’s contest was held shortly before Blue Bell had returned to the freezers in the Dallas grocery stores so many folks were still in the throws of Blue Bell “withdrawal.” With that in mind, Anne cleverly named her winning, frozen concoction “Waiting for Bluebell.”
I joined Anne in the kitchen of her Dallas home Monday morning so she could demonstrate her ice cream making skills and share some of her tips for making the most delicious ice cream ever—like the one that won her the first place title and gourmet ice cream scoop last summer.
Anne’s beautiful kitchen is a gourmet’s dream and I could not help asking her if she enjoyed cooking.
“I do like to cook and I often choose Ina Garten’s recipes,” Anne said.
Cooking is by no means all that Anne does. She is President of the Disciples Women at Central Christian Church in Dallas and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the church. A member of Alpha Delta Pi, she is a Past President and currently a fundraiser for the ADPi foundation.
She and her husband Clyde have two grown children and two grandchildren.
“Basic Chocolate Ice Cream,” Anne’s choice for last year’s churn-off, is an easy recipe with several suggested additions for variation.
If you have a good basic recipe you can keep your ice cream simple or make it as fancy as you want by the addition of ingredients and/or fun toppings, like the Alessi Chocolate flavored Balsamic Reduction that I purchased at Central Market during their ice cream promotion this past weekend.
Anne began preparing the recipe by “scalding” the milk—a cooking technique that heats the milk to just bubbling around the edges but not letting it come to a boil.
“Some people scald milk in the microwave but using the old stovetop method allows you to keep an eye on the bubbles so that it does not boil,” Anne said.
She used her food processor to combine the sugar with the chocolate, pulsing the ingredients until the chocolate was finely chopped, then added the scalded milk and continued to process until the mixture was well blended and smooth.
When the mixture had cooled, Anne added the heavy cream and vanilla. She prefers Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, the choice of many cooks.
After chilling for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, the mixture was ready to be transferred to Anne’s Cuisinart counter-top ice cream maker to let the machine do its magic.
Within a few minutes we had a delicious chocolate ice cream.
“How easy was that?” as Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa would ask.
Basic Chocolate Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet (your chocolate) broken into ½ inch pieces
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the whole milk until it is just bubbling around the edges (this may be done on the stovetop on in a microwave). In a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse to process the sugar with the chocolate until the chocolate is very finely chopped. Add the hot milk, process until well blended and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and let the chocolate mixture cool completely. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Chill for 30 minutes or longer.
Turn the machine on, pour chilled mixture into freezer through ingredient spout and let churn until thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Chocolate Almond: Add ½ teaspoon pure almond extract along with the vanilla. Add ½ - 3/4cup chopped toasted almonds or chopped chocolate-coated almonds during the last 5 minutes of freezing.
Chocolate Cookie: Add ½ - 1 cup chopped cookies during the last 5 minutes of freezing.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie: Ad ½ - 1 cup chopped day-old brownies during the last 5 minutes of freezing.
Chocolate Marshmallow Swirl: When removing the ice cream to a container for storing in home freezer, layer it with dollops of your favorite chocolate sauce and scoops of marshmallow cream. Freeze in freezer of refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.