Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The first try on the ice cream maker

The first attempt at the ice cream maker went off well, no major issues and lots of lessons learned.
As I mentioned in the last posting New York and much of New England has been in the midst of a heat wave. Not only has the temperature been hovering above 90 degrees the past few days the humid has been off the charts. Sadly air quality warnings in my area have been advising people to stay in doors from 10am-10pm. I don't know about anyone else but warnings like that just make me feel dirty, but I digress.

Ice cream seems like the perfect remedy for beating the heat. I would tend to agree with this statement and decided it was a perfect weekend to test out my new ice cream maker. A friend of mine, who also loves to play in the kitchen, was going to visit on Saturday. This was going to be a perfect occasion to try it out and I wanted everything to go smoothly. In my pre-purchase research on ice cream makers I read it was key to make sure everything (equipment, ingredients) were super cold before you start. Thus, Thursday I diligently remembered to put the freeze bowl container in the coldest part of my freezer. The directions require at least 15 hours in the freeze. I figured 72 hours would be super good.

After looking as several varying recipes online ( I have yet to get a real ice cream cookbook). I settled on a Giada recipe. I was a bit nervous in the whole process because for one all of the recipes were fairly different. Normally you can find a trend to mix and match recipes and create something of your own. I didn’t see the ice cream trend yet. Two, the Giada recipe had ricotta cheese, kind of gross for ice cream, but if you think about it cheese is comes from milk so its cannot be that different, right?

From Everyday Italian, Giada de Laurentis

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup whole milk
1 cup simple syrup, recipe below
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I used the mini chips)
For the Ricotta and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and milk until smooth. Add the simple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Pour the ricotta mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Add the chocolate chips 10 minutes before the end of freezing.

Simple syrup:
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and allow the syrup to cool.
Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

The first step needed in this recipe is the simple syrup mixture. This is very easy to make and I use it for all sorts of other recipes for smoothies and iced coffee. However, this "simple" syrup caused me a bit of a hassle due to my lack of foresight. To make simple syrup you need to boil the water/sugar mixture. I made the syrup ready to dump immediately into the ricotta mixture. Unfortunately this goes again the whole make sure everything is super cold philosophy of ice cream making, thus I had to dump the mixture into a bowl and put in the fridge. Not being a very patient person, after about 20 minutes the mixture (still being very hot) was dumped into a new glass and put in the freezer. Another 20 minutes later, the liquid was somewhat warm and I decided against my better judgment that it was usable. This simple syrup does keep so I recommend making a batch a day or two before you want to make the ice cream.

The rest of the recipe is very straightforward. Blend the milk and ricotta cheese together. Add vanilla and simple syrup. At this point I then put the mixture into the fridge for about 10 minutes to make sure it was all chilled up again. Once cold you take the freeze bowl from freezer and attach to the Kitchen aid, dump the cheese mixture in, and turn on the machine to low for 15-20 minutes. Once again you have to wait patiently. This was not an easy recipe for me to handle being how excited I was to try it out. At about 17 minutes the thickness was close to the consistency of soft service ice cream - at this point I threw in the mini chocolate chips and let it run for about 1 more minutes.

I took a regular Tupperware and dumped this mixture into and the problems began. My friend and I scraped the freeze bowl religiously to not waste any of the yummy ice cream. Paying more attention to the scraping we didn't realize the mixture in the Tupperware was quickly turning to liquid. The ice cream was now sweet liquid soup. I topped the container with the lid and threw it into the freezer. The waiting game began again.

The taste was quite good, more like a cannoli filling than a normal ice cream flavor. I love cannolis so this was not an issue at all. After about 30 minutes in the freezer the sides of the Tupperware had solidified enough for a tasting. The picture above is after 48 hours in the freezer - just like hard serve ice cream.
If I had to do it again, I would probably not pick a day that was 90 some degrees outside, I would not have the oven on during the freeze process, and I would freeze the airtight container for a bit before transferring the ice cream mixture over.

I hope the above antics did not make it simple complicated. Each step was very easy and simple, with a bit of practice and better planning I guarantee the next attempt will be better.

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