Years ago I got an ice cream maker, and my first attempt to make anything with it was poor. I tried to make chocolate chocolate chip ice cream by following a chocolate recipe included in the instruction manual. The flavor was all right, but the texture was all wrong--it came out flaky and full of ice crystals, like ice milk, and frankly wasn't quite chocolaty enough.
I don't remember the recipe now, but I know of three mistakes I made then: I should have substituted in heavy cream in place of half the milk, I should have let the mixture chill more before churning, and I should have mixed in the chips during the last minute of churning. Some of this was the fault of the recipe, in that using only milk was not a good idea, and I don't think the chocolate flavor really came through properly.
After watching too many episodes of Good Eats lately and learning a few good tips from Alton Brown, I resolved to try my hand at orange ice cream. This past weekend I went ahead and did just that, using a recipe I found here. My results were mixed.
This time I took the Internet's word for it, and per the other reviewers I subbed in heavy cream for half the milk. I also let the mixture chill a good long while--which ended up being 8 hours. Texture-wise, the final result was perfect. It also has a pleasing light yellowish-orange color.
The only problem I had with the final result is that there's a definite "cooked" flavor which has to have come from the oranges. I believe the problem is in the initial phase of the recipe, boiling the zest along with the milk and letting it steep (like tea). Apparently oranges can take on a cooked flavor with little prodding, so I consider this a flaw in the recipe. When I make this the next time, I think I'll just about double the zest and just add it in the final phase before chilling, letting the flavors mix then.
Observations from this process: 2 decent-sized navel oranges (I wouldn't call either one "large") produced exactly ½ cup of juice and about exactly 2 tablespoons of zest, after accounting for my failure to get proper zest at first with a tool that wasn't up to the job. (I bought a small Farberware fine grater with a measuring cup underneath that was supposed to catch the zest, but the zest either stayed on top or oozed through the holes without falling in. This grater will probably be better for nutmeg. I switched to a box grater for the rest.) I'll have to use more oranges next time to get more zest.
Since I have a fondness for berries I'll eventually try making blueberry ice cream, but I have an even better idea to try once I get better at this process. My mother makes a fresh blueberry pie, which she learned how to make while visiting Canada--where they sell a glaze that's just perfect for this. A fresh blueberry pie is just blueberries in the blueberry glaze, on a graham cracker or cookie crust, and served with whipped cream. It's tart, sweet, and increibly tasty. I think just maybe I can do that with ice cream, by starting with an unflavored base (much like what I'll try next time for the orange) and adding chopped fresh blueberries before chilling, which should hopefully let the berries absorb some cream so they won't freeze solid during churning or hardening. Then at the end of churning, in go the crushed pieces of graham crackers.
Chances are next weekend or the week after that I'll go for orange ice cream version 2.0, maybe this time adding some mini chocolate chips. I may even be bold enough to try making it tangerine ice cream instead, though that's gonna take a lot more juicing.
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