Icy Adventures, Part 2

As promised earlier this week, here's the next chapter of the ice cream chronicles, Kim O'Donnel style.

I put on my boots, packed my compass and set out to acquire my very first ice cream maker. The concrete jungle is dangerous, so I put on a helmet, too (Actually, I was traveling on bike. Yes, I went to buy an ice cream maker on my bike, under the delusion that my would-be purchase would actually fit into one of my panier bags.)

I arrived at my destination, the big white shipyard that is Crate & Barrel (Although Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table and Linens 'n Things are equally good possibilities) and parked my rig. I swaggered inside, eyed my target - the Cuisinart ICE-20 - and decided she was mine. I felt a rush of excitement, imagining the possibilities. (Is this how the explorers felt when they discovered new land?)

Vanilla ice cream
Just-churned vanilla-bourbon ice cream. (Kim O'Donnel)

Fifty bucks later, I was back at home base, unpacking the goods and dutifully placing the freezer bowl into the bowels of the freezer in preparation for my maiden voyage. Most machines on the market for home use are equipped similarly, with a separate Freon-powered bowl that must be frozen about 24 hours before you want to make ice cream.

After coffee the next morning, I embarked on making the custard (aka creme anglaise). Ice cream is actually a custard that is churned and frozen. It requires some combination of heavy cream and milk, a bunch of egg yolks and flavorings of your choice. The tricky part is cooking the highly sensitive custard, which can curdle if you're not careful. I asked my ice cream guru, Bill Addison, how to handle:

If you add the cream too quickly to the egg mixture, or cook the egg/cream combo at too high a temperature, you start to see discouraging bits of coddled egg floating in your custard.

Do two things to avoid this:

1) Temper the egg mixture by slowly, slowly adding splashes of hot cream to the eggs, stirring all the while, before you add the entire egg mixture into the cream.

2) Cook the custard on medium-low, stirring the whole time. Don't grow impatient. Zen out on this step. The rewards are worth it.

Finally, little bits of cooked egg solids are typical in the process. When the custard is properly thickened, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve before adding the final flavorings.

On cooking the custard to proper thickness: the "cook until it coats the back of a spoon" rule can be vague and misleading. The mixture often already coats the spoon before it's even cooked! You're looking for the mixture to surpass the texture of heavy cream. If you run a thumb over the mixture on the back of the spoon, the custard shouldn't run at all, and it should look thick. It should have body and keep its shape on the spoon. Then you know it's done.

Kim and Vanilla ice cream
Just me and my ICE-20. (R. Walker)

For neophytes like me, Addison made a few recommendations: "Master the art of vanilla first. It covers all the important bases. Then you can move on to chocolate, if so inclined. Fruit can be tricky, because often there's an additional liquid component from the fruit's juice to consider."

And so vanilla it was. Let me tell you, though; this is high-test stuff, flavored with bourbon - "adult vanilla ice cream," as Addison put it.

The end result? It rendered two of us speechless.


Bill Addison's Vanilla-Bourbon Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half-n-half
1 vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon

Place cream and half-n-half in a saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture.

Add vanilla bean to the cream mixture and bring to just under a boil over medium heat. Remove the cream from the heat and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes.

Separate eggs. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar and salt in a mixture bowl, whisking until the mixture lightens. Slowly whisk in a small amount (approximately 1/4 cup) of hot cream to temper the egg mixture. Transfer the egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon without running.

Remove from the heat. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the vanilla extract and bourbon.

Chill completely and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

By Kim ODonnel |  June 15, 2006; 9:28 AM ET Desserts , Frozen Treats
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I have made ice cream several times in my ice cream maker and it has always turned out great. However, I would be interested in making a slightly less fatting version. Kim, any chance of getting a lower fat version of ice cream this summer? Or perhaps a good sherbert that has less dairy in it?

Posted by: Erin | June 15, 2006 12:26 PM

Kim, I've got an ICE-20 also - congrats. I've really got frozen yogurts down pat. One of my best ones (ane easiest!) starts w/ Trader Joe's strawberry yogurt in the quart container. Half a container of yogurt, a splash of milk, and some berries. No extra sugar needed!

Posted by: John | June 15, 2006 1:47 PM

The one time I tried making IC with my maker, it turned out icy...any obvious reasons why this would happens?

Posted by: Erin | June 15, 2006 4:04 PM

Ice cream has no eggs, although I'm sure your frozen custard was delicious.

Posted by: dynagirl | June 15, 2006 5:26 PM

Erin: I will be posting different variations on the icy theme throughout the summer. Stay tuned for lower-fat versions.
Dynagirl: there are all kinds of ways to do ice cream -- with/without eggs, cream only, combination of cream and milk or in this case, with halfnhalf. I've looked at more than 30 recipes over the past week, some of which use as few as four eggs, others with as many as eight. What's your fancy?

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | June 15, 2006 10:02 PM

You might want to look at Emily Luchetti's mouth-watering new book "A Passion for Ice Cream".

Posted by: Fazal Majid | June 16, 2006 5:03 AM

Try some sorbets. Blendorize a can of mangos with their liquid, add coconut milk, sugar, and maybe a little lime juice. Tasty! Or this fall make pear sorbet. Erin, ice crystals can be prevented by more sugar, more fat, or more stirring.

Posted by: Joe | June 16, 2006 8:47 AM

Next time use a double boiler for your custard....it really helps. Secondly, ice cream is not an alcoholic drink sounds like you lack children.

Posted by: Steve Newark | June 16, 2006 9:38 AM

Just curious - can you use egg substitutes? or better would like to see recipes without eggs

Posted by: Denise | June 16, 2006 9:45 AM

Steve, I did mention in the post that this was "adult" vanilla! Of course you can omit the booze and get equally delicious results.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | June 16, 2006 9:46 AM

I LOVE my ice cream maker. I like to add spices and pie pilling--I've made Apple Pie ice cream (cinnamon, a broken-up pre-made crust and apple pie filling) and Pumpkin Pie (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, crust and pumpkin puree). Soooooo good!

Posted by: NYC | June 16, 2006 11:01 AM

Have to second the recommendation for pear sorbet. Wonderful stuff. You'll need to make some simple syrup and get mushy overripe pears. Wonderful palate cleanser or light snack.

Posted by: John | June 16, 2006 11:21 AM

Totally off topic, but I just want to say it's great to hear that you rode your bike to pick up the ice cream maker! Thanks for adding that detail and reminding people that yes, you actually can ride a bike or walk to errands, even if you might end up with something large and heavy -- all it takes is a little forethought to have the appropriate pannier or cart.

Posted by: Susan | June 16, 2006 11:55 AM

There's also Philadelphia-style ice cream, which contains no eggs. An easy recipe is 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1 1/2 cups whole milk, a half cup of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla. Stir together and voila! plop the mixture into your ice cream maker, turn it on, and 25 minutes later you have a very nice vanilla ice cream that took you all of 30 seconds prep time. And it's easy to get creative with adding all kinds of different flavorings. Granted, the custard kind is thicker and smoother, but when you're in a hurry or just want to play around, Philadelphia style is the ticket.

Posted by: Therese Foote | June 16, 2006 12:27 PM

sorbets! yes - does anyone have a good "rule of thumb" recipe (so many part of this, plus so many parts of that, plus so many parts of fruit...)?

am looking for a good one, and have a half of a watermelon to use up! thanks!

Posted by: erin e | June 16, 2006 1:25 PM

Its a lot of fun to use a "real" ice cream maker. That's one that uses Rock Salt and Ice and requires you to turn a hand crank for a while. It may take more energy, but the quality of the ice cream is vastly superior.

Posted by: David | June 16, 2006 1:58 PM

ha--people are so snarky on here (eggs, bourbon), it's hilarious.
But, like lots of people, I like to make ice cream without eggs too, (just don't like the extra work) so I second a request for variety. But I love the bourbon recipe--more unusual additions like that are great! (after all, you can get basic recipes anywhere)
erin e, check marthastewartliving.com for sorbet basics--Living ran a chart a few years ago with the fruit plus simple sugar amounts for every conceivable sorbet.

Posted by: eggs, sorbets, and so on | June 16, 2006 2:20 PM

Has anyone tried the "ice cream ball" from LL Bean? Seems like a neat concept - pour the ingredients inside; add ice & rock salt to the "outer ring" and kick the ball around for 20 min. Voila! A pint of ice cream! Curious to know if it actually works...

Posted by: Amira | June 16, 2006 3:05 PM

I have an older Cuisinart CIM-20 Yougart, Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker. There are several recipes in the Instruction Recipe Booklet. Ie: Simple Vanilla IC that does not use eggs; frozen fruit Yougarts and Sorbets; various flavor IC; sherberts, frozen strawberry Daiquiri, and Pina Coladas.
I am going to try your vanilla bourbon IC for an "adult" dinner party tomorrow evening.

Posted by: Virginia | June 16, 2006 6:11 PM

Peach ice cream is delicious. I made it last summer and will definitely do it again.


Posted by: Vic Shagapopoulis | June 16, 2006 8:44 PM

Kim: at Costco, the same $50 would have bought you the Cuisinart 2-qt stainless steel machine.

Posted by: Ali | June 16, 2006 8:49 PM

Do you have to churn it for hours?

Or does it have a motor that you plug in and then can get to making the cones. MMMMMMMMMM homemade Ice cream in a homemade waffle cone.

Do you have any recipes for cones? It can't be that difficult, right? We're basically shaping some lightly fried batter here...

Posted by: stpetey | June 17, 2006 12:24 AM

eggs, sorbets and so on...

thanks for the tip to check out martha stewart.com there were at least 10 recipes there that were just perfect. also, I checked out www.cuisinart.com, where there are also loads of recipes, too. of course, all of them may be customized with a little experimentation to be adult or kid-friendly... : )

Posted by: erin e | June 18, 2006 4:11 PM


Homemade cones are so easy! You'll need a pizelle maker though. I don't have the recipe on me now, but any recipe for pizelles should work. While the pizelle is still warm (move quickly), roll it into a cone shape, pinch the bottom closed and voila!

Posted by: Jaz | June 19, 2006 1:27 PM

A friend gave us the rolling ball ice-cream maker for Christmas. We used it once with mediocre results. More salt and ice would probably have helped, but we got a pretty sloppy mess in the canister as our end-result - not as firm as our usual hand-cranked. It was fun to be rolling the ball around on the floor (6 of us, including a 4 yr old and an 18-month-old) but it is the size and hardness (not quite the weight) of a bowling ball, so the kids were chasing it and kept getting bruises or bumped hard when it came to them. No messy spills, and it seemed sturdy and tightly closed, but that didn't make me less nervous about having this sphere of salt water and sloshing cream rolling around on the carpet! We'll try it again, sometime, but don't be surprised if it strikes you (ha ha) as a one-time novelty.

Posted by: JuNK | June 20, 2006 7:25 PM

Quite a lot of useful information aobut ice cream maker and ice-making. The following may be some help for understanding about homemade ice cream & commercial ice cream making and their machines.

Posted by: David | July 16, 2006 11:23 PM

Many years I received a recipe for chocolate ice cream withough eggs from a Montessori school mom. I lost the recipe. Does anyone know a rich, delicious recipe for chocolate ice cream that includes no eggs?

Posted by: eidraper @comcast.net | July 24, 2006 6:14 PM

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