Summertime in Washington, DC is synonymous with hosting outdoor barbecues by the pool. On the invite I usually include a list of the foods that I’ll be making and the list always includes homemade ice cream. When I tell people that I am making ice cream they often look at me as if I am a younger version of Martha Stewart. Or if they happened to have attended my all-women’s college, the familiar reference is, “You’re a regular Betty Homemaker.” Whichever terminology is used, the fact remains the same – people are impressed when you make homemade ice cream and their taste buds are eternally grateful.
I first learned the art of making homemade ice cream as a child growing up in suburbia Connecticut, where you ran barefoot all day long and dinner wasn’t served until 8 or 9pm. As a young entrepreneurial adult my mom helped to open an ice cream parlor in Matunuck, Rhode Island, she aptly called it the “Vanilla Bean” and even though the store changed hands the name stuck. At the time her boyfriend was in charge of running the business and my mom was the mastermind behind all of the ice cream flavors. Every morning she would create a new batch of various flavors designed to delight the senses of Matunuck beach-goers. When I was a child my mom shared her knowledge with me, and now it is my pleasure to share a few tricks of the trade with you.
Making homemade ice cream requires a few quintessential items:
- Time – from start to finish it will take you 4 hours (1 hour of actual ‘cooking time.’) It takes 24 hours for the Cuisinart freezer bowl to freeze, so plan accordingly.
- A good sense of smell – as with any cooking or baking project, your sense of smell is crucial to finding the right balance of ingredients
- A decent recipe – as an amateur cook (by amateur I mean hosting a dinner party still throws me into a Tasmanian Devil level of stress), I rely on the recipe as a starting point and not to be ‘followed to a T’
- The proper ice cream maker – I am a fan of the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker (I have no affiliation with the company, however as a child I have many happy memories of making ice cream with my mom and brother on the Cuisinart.)
- Patience – the reverse of the phrase, “a watched pot never boils,” is true for making ice cream. Ice cream will not freeze any faster if you constantly open the freezer door to check.
And now it is time for a good Cuisinart inspired recipe, with a few noted tweaks.
- 5 eggs – My mom has laying hens so I prefer organic, cage free, large brown eggs – the yolk tends to be larger and of a brighter color
- 1 cup milk – Ice cream isn’t supposed to be healthy, go with whole milk, your guests will thank you
- 2 cups heavy cream – I like to use the same brand of cream as milk and if the budget affords it I will buy organic cream.
- 1 cup granular (white) sugar – measure loosely, a little extra sugar never hurts
- 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon vanilla extract – I never measure the vanilla extract, instead preferring to use my sense of smell
- Pinch of salt – I prefer sea salt
- In a small bowl separate the 5 eggs; keep the yolks and throw-out the rest. Add ½ cup of sugar. Beat the eggs and sugar together using a whisk. You want a nice consistency and an even color. Note: the original recipe calls for using hand-beaters, but I find that puts too many air-bubbles into the mixture.
- In a large saucepan, over low-heat, mix together your milk and cream. Add a pinch of sea salt and a bit of vanilla extract. I never measure so I add just enough to bring a pleasant smell and make a design about the size of a nickel in the pan. (In case you’re wondering, I give directions in the same manner, turn on the street with the ugly pink fence, past the yard with 5 cars, and take a left… and my guests are always steered in the right direction.)
- Constantly stir the contents of the saucepan until you have brought it to a slight boil, at which point remove it from the heat.
- Add 2 cups of the mixture to the bowl with your eggs. Mix the two components together.
- Return the saucepan to low-heat and add the entire contents of the bowl. Add a little extra salt and a bit more vanilla extract. Constantly stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon in a thin layer. 3-5minutes max!
- Remove from the heat and place the covered saucepan in your fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the Cuisinart freezer bowl from the freezer. Set-up your machine. Pour the contents of the ice cream into the freezer bowl. Turn-on. Cover with a hand towel. 20-30 minutes later your ice cream is ready to be immediately enjoyed.