|The last of the Christmas-themed posts (I swear) - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
|Keep Christmas in your heart, or your freezer, it sets up real nice - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
We received a lovely bar of Theo peppermint and dark chocolate over the holidays. Score, right? Theo Chocolate is amazing, both in flavor and principle. They're local, organic, free trade -- it's like the trifecta of goodness and quality that Portlandia loves to make funny-but-true skits about. And it also becomes such a precious thing that I get all Gollum about it and don't want to just eat it, I just sit in a corner, all hunched over, petting it like the One Ring and the Mister asks if I'm gonna share that thing or what? Fair question. So my solution, much like the Lord of the Rings story: destroy The Precioussssss! Well, pulverize the heck out of the chocolate bar and spread its tasty goodness across several portions by making ice cream out of it. Portlandia, are you listening? After you've Put a Bird on It, decided We Can Pickle It, you can now Make Ice Cream Out of It!
|How Wasabi rolls when making ice cream at home - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
But back to the good stuff, the ice cream itself: it's not rocket science and once you start making your own, you'll think twice about buying the mass market stuff because you can really customize the flavors. The way I make ice cream is like how I cook -- I make things based on the ingredients I have. The holidays left us with extra heavy cream, plenty of eggs and holiday candy, so my brain went: Ice Cream. I love peppermint ice cream, but I also love chocolate mint, and that's where the Theo candy bar came in -- I melted down half the bar into the ice cream batter/mixture and bashed up the other half with a candy cane to make a crunchy texture to add to the churned ice cream. When I make chocolate ice cream, I prefer a bittersweet chocolate flavor, so I always add a small bit of finely ground coffee -- like, just a scant half teaspoon's worth. It just gives it a little more depth. It might feel too strong for some, but that's just my personal preference. You don't have to worry about large grounds getting into the ice cream, as I always strain the ice cream batter before it's chilled -- a metal strainer is the best thing and it's probably one of my favorite kitchen tools, since it can work for hot and cold uses.
For the basic ice cream batter, this is my base recipe -- it starts off with less sugar, in case you add extra ingredients or flavorings that are sweetened, and you can always add more sugar to taste as you simmer it. It's basically a frozen custard base -- eggs, sugar and milk/cream. It's your choice to add vanilla, chocolate or any other flavorings, which usually are added in small increments if it's strong like vanilla. If you're wanting to make chocolate ice cream, I melt down about a cup and a half's worth of chocolate chips into the heated milk and sugar. It's also fun to mix things, like vanilla with orange zest, to make a creamsicle flavor. Or in this post-holiday batch of ice cream, I melted chocolate and added more crushed chocolate and peppermint. If you decide to add some crushed bits of something into the ice cream for texture, sprinkle it into the already-mixed batter, layering it with the churned ice cream as it's poured into a container (preferably glass) to finish setting up in the freezer. As you scoop the finished ice cream, the bits will mix itself into the ice cream and it's less hard on the motor of your ice cream maker if it doesn't have to churn chunky solid bits like nuts.
Wasabi's Ice Cream Base
3 cups whole milk or 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup cream if you want it extra-rich
3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Special tools: ice cream maker, metal strainer, whisk, silicone spatulas
Place a medium-sized pot on the stove and set it to medium. Add the sugar and milk/cream, warming to a simmer, whisking to make sure sugar is melted. At this point, add whatever custom ingredients you wish to the mixture, including the salt, whisking to fully combine and spend a few minutes to develop its flavor. Drop the heat to medium low.
Take the lightly beaten eggs and add some of the heated cream and sugar liquid into the eggs and whisk to temper them; this helps bring the temperature of the eggs up gently. Add the egg and liquid mixture slowly into the pot, whisking steadily to incorporate and keep the eggs from scrambling. This will thicken mixture and it will start to resemble a loose pudding. Check the temperature to make sure it hits 160 degrees - this ensures that the eggs have been cooked. Keep whisking until it gets to that temperature and then remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through the metal strainer, using the spatula to help move any of the solid bits around to get any excess liquid from them. There's going to be little chunks from the egg, plus any solid bits from the flavorings you may have added, so it's good to not skip this step -- no one wants unpleasantly chunky ice cream!
Let the mixture cool and chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least six hours so that it's fully chilled before churning in your ice cream maker.