The best kind of gift is the one you open and realize– it’s what you always wanted, but never knew you wanted. Because it’s such an amazing surprise. That pretty much sums up my new ice cream (and frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, etc.) maker. It was a Christmas present from Sam’s parents (THANKS!).
Luckily they let me know that I had to freeze the bowl– that’s a pro tip for everyone. When you buy an ice cream maker, stick that freezer bowl in the freezer. You’re gonna have to wait about 24 hours before you can whip up your first batch.
One of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors is the chocolate chip mint (I think I’ve said before– I never know what order to say the words… chocolate chip mint, mint chocolate chip) from Baskin Robbins. So I decided to try to emulate that most excellent taste in my first batch of ice cream.
I searched online and found this recipe from AllRecipes. Because I have natural family cholesterol problems, I looked for a recipe that didn’t involve any egg yolks, and used half & half instead of full-on cream (and planned on using 2% milk instead of whole milk, but this recipe already calls for 2%). I also halved the recipe to make only 1 quart.
As long as I mention it– is there anything else that can replace cream? I found a recipe that talked about saving calories by using gelatin, but then I looked up gelatin to see if it’s still made from boiling animal remains and– yep!– it is. Gross. Can’t deal with it.
The recipe calls for peppermint extract, but all I could find at the grocery store was “mint extract.” I looked at the ingredients– peppermint and spearmint extracts. Fine. [Edit:] (Maybe not.) [Later edit:] (Definitely use peppermint extract— I was fortune’s fool.)
I also opted to buy ultrafine sugar, because this recipe didn’t call for any sort of heating that would aid in dissolving big regular grains of sugar. (This was based partly on friend-Seth’s warning that homemade ice cream can often come out tasting grainy.) (Yes, I have become real-life friends with an internet stranger!) Now I’m stuck with more ultrafine sugar than I’ll need all year, because it only came in gigantor size.
So… you mix together the ingredients. It’s that simple. And then you add food coloring. Some people might say– hey, you’re using mint extract? You’re putting in food coloring? What’s that about? Be NATURAL. Sorry– Baskin Robbins did this to me. I’m not always a mint fan, and actual mint in my ice cream doesn’t appeal to me ONE BIT. (But I do like mojitos.) (But I don’t like mint tea.) (SEE?)
Since when do food coloring containers look like gnomes?
I was thinking that I’d add a drop or two of blue to get the right minty color, but the back of the food coloring box revealed that mint green is achieved by adding 1 drop of yellow for every 3 drops of green. I learn something new every day! (I used 6 drops green and 2 drops yellow, in case you were wondering.)
Then I whipped out the ice cream maker– it’s a Cuisinart ICE-21. You put the freezer bowl on the base, then throw in the plastic paddle and cover it with a lid. AFTER you turn on the machine (the bowl spins!), you pour the ice-cream-to-be into the bowl. And it starts to coagulate! (Okay, maybe that’s more of a medical term?)
At first I was concerned, because the paddle wasn’t fully emerged. But it worked out fine… and there are two levels to the paddle. And… the bowl is spinning like a centrifuge. So… don’t freak out. Just go with it.
After about 10 minutes (it only takes 20, total), I dropped the chocolate chips into the sludge. I had originally intended to shave some chocolate (sexy?), to be more Baskin Robbin-esque, but then I got lazy and decided to just smash chocolate chips with a rolling pin. But then I couldn’t find my rolling pin, so I smashed the chips with the giant container of ultrafine sugar. That didn’t really work, but they were mini chips to begin with. So whatever.
The chocolate chips got sorta traffic-jammed in the paddle, and since there was nothing sharp or scary going on, I realized I could just scoop my fork in and give them a stir. (I avoided the moving bowl.) Then I realized that I could eat the ice cream as it was churning. (You know… testing for consistency. Yeah…)
The recipe called for the ice cream to be frozen for an additional 2 hours after churning, but I thought it was edible enough after 20 minutes. I stuck it in the freezer anyway, just because I wanted to eat some real lunch before I ate much more ice cream… when I pulled it back out to take that ramekin shot later, I noticed that it gets melty really fast… probably because of the low fat modifications.
As far as the taste… I thought the consistency was very nice. Somewhere between ice cream and frozen yogurt. We’ll see what it’s like after a bit more freezing. I’m on the fence about the minty-ness. It definitely tastes much better with chocolate than it does when I take a mint-only bite. But I’m not sure if it’s, like, barfingly minty or just the right amount of minty. I’ll have to force Sam to taste-test it. (What a terrible thing… tasting ice cream.)
So… maybe next time I might use a hint less of the mint extract. It’s really potent. It’s kind of weird that I can’t tell if it’s amazing or awful, right? I feel weird about it.
Oh, and PRO-TIP– the freezer bowl is SO COLD. Even if you wash it with warm water (as directed), it is still cold enough to stick to your wet hand if you touch the inside whilst trying to dry it (thank God I didn’t rip my skin off)… and then it’ll stick to the paper towel, too. (Just dry it upside down.) (And then stick it back into the freezer for the next time.) It’s very “A Christmas Story.”
One thing I already love about having an ice cream maker is that it’s a great topic of conversation– a lot of people own ice cream makers. The great friend-maker! That’s what they should really call it. If you have any tips, tricks or recipes– send them my way!
So… I’m looking forward to a new year full of ice cream-y inventions. (Which may or may not be barfingly minty…)