Ice Cream on the Brain

Years ago when I lived in Burlington, Vt., it was nothing to see people lining up in the middle of winter to buy an ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s flagship store downtown. Folks would choose their flavors, piled into orderly stacks in waffle cones or waxed paper cups and – unless they chose to eat them at one of the shop’s tables – they’d take them outside and saunter up and down Church Street, Burlington’s main pedestrian drag, while snowflakes tumbled down around them.

I mention this because while it’s a great deal warmer here in San Francisco than it is in Burlington (58 degrees as opposed to 20) ice cream is still a huge draw, even in the depths of San Francisco’s notably warmer but certainly more wet version of winter. Well, for me, anyway. I just got an automatic ice cream maker and I have ice cream on the brain. I found a Cuisinart 1.5 quart ice cream maker in a thrift store on South Van Ness (I may be a food snob, but I’m a cheap food snob).

The paddle was missing, but the machine was in good shape otherwise. I forked over ten bucks and promptly took it home where I immediately went on line and, through the Cuisinart web site, ordered a replacement paddle for $8, plus $5 shipping. Total machine cost: $23. Cost new: $49.95 plus tax. I still think I got the better end of the deal.

I’ve only made two batches, so far, and the recipes I used were both based on simple recipes for vanilla ice cream that came in the owner’s manual (which I downloaded from the internet). That’s not to say they weren’t excellent. They, most assuredly, were. I really just didn’t feel like making custards or performing any other sort-of-complicated procedures.

There is, perhaps even more important, the satisfaction of making it myself. There is, as well, the satisfaction of making damned good ice cream and paying a helluva lot less for it than I would had I bought premium ice cream at the store. Three pints of that Ben & Jerry’s, for example, would have come to almost $11. Last night’s batch of 1.5 quarts came to about $5.50. Mostly, I just enjoyed making it myself, a pleasure I wouldn’t have purchasing it from the store. Here’s what I made.

Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup whole milk, chilled
¾ cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 ounces dark chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch squares or thereabouts

  • Using a hand mixer or a whisk (the hand mixer is easier on the wrist), combine the milk, orange zest, and sugar in a chilled bowl, mixing until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Stir in the heavy cream.
  • Turn on the machine and pour the mixture into the bowl through the opening in the cover. Let the machine do its thing until the liquid is thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  • About five minutes before it’s done, add the chocolate through the opening at the top.
  • When it’s done, transfer the ice cream to a container and stash in the freezer for another half hour or so to let it solidify a bit more. Be sure to lick the spatula.

Banana Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3/4 cup whole milk, chilled
¾ cup sugar
Several shavings of nutmeg
1 banana, preferably very ripe, mashed
1 teaspoon or more vanilla

  • Using a hand mixer or a whisk (the hand mixer is easier), combine the milk, nutmeg, mashed banana, and sugar in a chilled bowl, mixing until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Stir in the heavy cream.
  • Follow the same procedure as the first recipe.

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