06 June 2011

A Summer of Ice Cream

For no reason at all, other than my inability to moderate my butterfat intake, I declare this the Summer of Homemade Ice Cream. I figure I'll make a new kind each week or so, trying out new flavor combinations, and convincing myself that because I've made the ice cream myself, it's healthy and good for me.

A practice run in the spring yielded Brown Sugar Ice Cream with Candied Walnuts. I'm afraid I've peaked too soon, because that one was decidedly delicious. Seriously good stuff. A-.

On this, the hottest, muggiest day of the final summer before the Mayans have us call it quits, I finished up a decidedly mediocre effort. So why not waste time and avoid real responsibilities by telling you all about it? You're so welcome.

Blueberry and Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream

Things started well enough. I had scads of blueberries, a few blackberries. The recipe had me cook those down with some orange zest (to be removed later; don't panic about the big strips of zest), some sugar, a little water. Puréed it (one day I will remember that hot things in the blender explode); delicious.

I realized I would have a perfectly creamy, smooth blueberry ice cream. I hate perfectly creamy, smooth ice creams. Give me something to chew (my texture issues are legend). A quick plea on Facebook yielded helpful suggestions: shortbread, cake, pretzels, chocolate, even blueberries (from one of my more avant-garde friends). I chose dried blueberries (the organic ones from Whole Foods are $22.95 per pound; I was disappointed not to receive an accompanying adoption certificate) and shaved bittersweet chocolate.

Fine, fine, fine. What I learned with today's ice cream adventure is that I know how to make ice cream, and that reading recipes is only going to lead me astray. Here's out it plays out: I want to make X kind of Food Item. I know how to make it, but want a new flavor combination. I troll through some cookbooks or epicurious.com* and find some promising suggestions. Instead of taking the suggestions and incorporating them into my plan, I occasionally sometimes often think to myself, "Scott, you arrogant prick, they're the professionals. What makes you think you can do better? Just follow the recipe." So I do, and then I am disappointed every. single. time. In this case, in addition to lemon juice (acid is totally necessary, I get that), the recipe calls for two tablespoons of Grand Marnier (I suppose to enhance the flavor of the orange zest). So yes, I've made purple ice cream that tastes mostly like orange liqueur and faintly like a blueberry juice box. I'm also fairly certain that those little pedigreed blueberries are going to crunch like BB pellets when they've had time to freeze solid.

There you have it: Blueberry and Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream. C+. Get it while it's hot. Seriously—I'm walking down the block for gelato.

*I've probably mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating if you're a newbie: the only real reason to visit epicurious.com is to skim the reader comments. They usually go something like this: "I was out of celery salt so substituted hot fudge. Delish!" or "I wanted to try this recipe for Chicken Divan but my family hates chicken and divan. I made salmon stew instead. No one could tell the difference!"

They shall be called my disciples.