Ice Cream, Two Ways

Straw”brrr”y : Peanut Butter Bananas Foster

Obviously, I wrote this recipe with Valentine’s Day in mind, but – lucky for her – this week was also exam week for Alexis. So, what could I make that says “mi amor, Querida, light of my life, I love you” and at the same time, “I know you’re so stressed out that you might murder me if I open my mouth one more time while you’re studying, but look, something tasty!” The answer is, of course, ice cream. Decadent, creamy, hand-whipped to fluffy perfection, iced-cream. The kind of comfort food that takes a lot of love to make and makes whoever eats it chill, breathe, and then go back for a second (or fifth) scoop. Rather than just give you plain ol’ vanilla, I rolled up two particularly tasty scoops to try, but this recipe will work for just about any flavor you want to make.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes, plus freezing time overnight

This recipe will make 3-4 cups of ice cream (depending on filling), but I’ve doubled it for two flavors

For the Custard:

2 cups Heavy Cream

1 cup Whole Milk

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (alternatively, 1 Vanilla Pod)

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/3 cup Sugar

4 Egg Yolks

For the Straw”brrr”y:

1 pound Fresh Strawberries

3.5 ounces high-quality Dark Chocolate

3 tablespoons Sugar

For the Peanut Butter Bananas Foster Filling:

3 ripe Bananas

1/2 cup smooth Peanut Butter

2 tablespoons Rum

1 tablespoon Cream

1 tablespoon ground Cinnamon

The Custard:

This recipe is the most standard of standard custard recipes. General rule for ice cream is 2:1 cream to milk ratio. The sugar and eggs are also roughly adjustable, depending on how sweet and heavy you like custard/ice cream. There are tons of custard recipes everywhere online and they’re all slightly different and simultaneously essentially the same. Shop around, look at other recipes, and experiment – there’s plenty of wiggle room here.

  1. Combine the cream, milk, salt, and vanilla in a pot and bring to a light simmer – but not a boil – on the stove. If you want to spend the money on vanilla pods (if you were making solely vanilla ice cream, it’s expensive, but worth it) you’ll get a much richer flavor. Simply slice the pod in half, scrape the seeds out with a blade, and put the seeds and the husk in your cream as it warms. Remove the husk before you combine with the eggs, but the seeds stay (that’s where the black/brown spots come from in french vanilla ice cream). I think custard can always do with vanilla, but if you’re doing a super sour flavor for example, leave it out.
  2. While the cream warms, beat together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves and the mixture goes pale yellow.
  3. Stirring quickly, add a quarter of the hot cream to the eggs. This is why the cream mixture shouldn’t be boiling, otherwise you’ll scramble your eggs. Adding a quarter of the liquid brings the eggs up to temperature without cooking them.
  4. Put the eggs back in the pot with the rest of the cream and set on medium-high heat. Keep everything moving and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. If you don’t cook long or hot enough, the eggs won’t bind with the cream and it will stay a really thin, eggnog type consistency. DO NOT RUSH this process and as soon as the custard has thickened, pour it into another bowl and keep stirring until it stops emitting steam. If you cook the mix too fast (at too high of a temperature) you will end up scrambling your eggs without binding them to the cream; you’ll end up with very smooth, very sweet scrambled eggs swimming in warm milk (something that still happens to me when I’m being lazy and makes me want to cry). If you take your time, keep everything moving, and be patient, this process will work easy-peasy.
  5. The next step, after the custard has cooled, is to freeze it into ice cream. I like to divide my custard into as many flat containers as I have flavors. The airtight seal with stop a skin from forming on the top of the custard and the ice-cream will stay soft and creamy for a few weeks. However, you aren’t done quite yet. The custard will take a few hours to freeze, but if you just throw it in the freezer and leave it, you’ll end up with icy, anti-luscious cream. Every thirty minutes or so as the custard freezes (for the first two to four hours), take the custard out and whip it with a fork or whisk. This breaks up the ice crystals, ensures the custard freezes evenly, and aerates the cream making for wonderfully smooth ice cream. It is a hassle, but it’s entirely worth it.
    1. I’m assuming people wont have an ice-cream maker, but if you are lucky enough to, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions and pour your custard into the mixer. Ice-cream makers freeze and aerate custard simultaneously, making the process much faster. They also generally take up as much space as a toddler, so there’s benefits either way.
  6. Once you’ve gone in and aerated four or five times, let the custard sit in the freezer overnight, and you’ll be golden. Beautiful, hand-whipped ice cream. You could stop here and still have tasty vanilla ice cream. But why don’t we try out some flavors?

The Straw”brrr”y:

  1. Cube the strawberries and place in pot. If you like, set aside a few chunks to mix in at the end. I like have pieces of fresh berry strewn through the ice cream, but they can be icy. Your choice.
  2. Cover with sugar and cook on the lowest temperature setting for 20-30 minutes. This is great to get started before you do anything else and have cooking while you’re getting everything else ready. The sugar will pull the liquid from the strawberries and as they cook, the strawberries release pectin, which makes everything go lovely and jammy. After 30 minutes max, mash with a fork and set in the fridge until you’re ready to mix into the ice cream.
  3. After the ice cream has been aerated a few times, but before you’ve set it to chill overnight, stir in your strawberry jam, the fresh strawberries, and the chocolate that you’ve broken into chip sized shards. Be sure to use good quality dark chocolate, it pairs well against the sweetness of the berries and if you use milk chocolate, the flavor will get lost as the ice cream cools.
  4. Voila! Delicious and pretty in pink chocolate and strawberry ice cream.

Peanut Butter Bananas Foster Filling:

  1. Cook the bananas in chunks in a dry pan on high heat. Use tongs to flip them after a minute or so – once you can really smell them and they’ve started to brown on the bottom. Then de-glaze with the rum. Now, if you’re feeling frisky, you can go get a lighter (a grill lighter with a long stem, don’t try this with matches) and light the whole deal on fire. This is how you flambé (look at you go with your French cooking method!). This burns off the alcohol, brings a lovely caramelized flavor to the bananas, and makes everything nice and jammy. If you don’t want to play with fire, don’t worry, just cook the rum down and you’ll get something pretty similar, sans the fire flavor.
  2. Mash the bananas together with peanut butter – you want to do this while the bananas are still warm, it’ll make the peanut butter more malleable. A splash of cream will do the same job helping bring things together and also smooth out the flavors.
  3. Add the peanut butter banana goo in the same way you would with the strawberry jam and toss in the cinnamon at that time (nutmeg would work great, just use less).

Ice cream is one of those things like bread. It’s simple to make really. It takes some time and planning, but there aren’t many ingredients and only a few steps. But when it’s homemade, it’s wonderful. It’s one of those dishes that makes you remember the sound of your mom’s ice cream maker, all fifty pounds of it, whining from across the house. I can remember the smell of the salt she used to cool the ice and make the custard freeze faster and the way the lid would finally pop open and you’d get a blast of aroma – whichever flavor she made that time (my favorite was coffee). Ice cream is one of those dishes where you can taste the love that goes into making it, and if you give it a shot, you’ll see that too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Strawberry Left, Peanut Butter Banana Right

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