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Photo courtesy Stewart Tabori & Chang

Stout and pretzels

Cookbook offers ice cream tips

By Melissa M. Martinez
Cox Newspapers

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AUSTIN, Texas – While I enjoy a good scoop (or several) of creamy, cold ice cream any time of year, the heat of summer in Texas nearly demands that you pull out your ice cream maker and churn up a new flavor.

Making homemade ice cream might seem intimidating, but with a few tips and skills, the whole process is pretty simple and yields delicious results.

Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, the authors of the recently published “Ample Hills Creamery” (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $24.95), insist there is no secret to making great ice cream, except using great ingredients.

But they do offer a tip that they said most commercial ice cream makers use: Use skim milk powder to combat the effects of too much water in tahe base for a smooth, creamy ice cream that is less heavy and fattening than other homemade versions.

They also recommend using organic cane sugar rather than refined white sugar. Organic cane sugar retains the flavors and nutrients from the sugarcane plant that have been processed out of refined white sugar.

Most of the recipes in “Ample Hills Creamery” use egg yolks, which means the ice cream technically is a frozen custard. But the vanilla malted ice cream recipe here isn’t the soft-serve frozen custard you might be thinking of; it’s a “scoop-shop custard,” meant to be served hard. Using egg yolks in the ice cream base keeps it from forming ice crystals and makes homemade ice cream scoopable even after freezing.

The trick to using egg yolks in ice cream is tempering the yolks as you mix them in. If you were to dump the yolks directly into a pot of hot milk, cream and sugar, they would cook up and form clumps, rather than smoothly blending into the mixture.

The way to temper yolks is to place them in a medium bowl, then add 1/2 cup of the milk, cream and sugar mixture at 100 to 110 degrees while whisking. Once the yolk-milk mixture is an even color and consistency, you can whisk it back into the remaining milk mixture and continue to heat it.

The vanilla malted ice cream recipe here also involves using an ice bath to cool the ice cream base. This ensures that the ice cream cools quickly enough to not allow microorganisms to grow in the heated base as it cools. The easiest way to create an ice bath is to fill your kitchen sink a quarter of the way with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice. You also can do this in a heatproof bowl.

When you have a basic ice cream recipe down, there are tons of ways to get creative and play with the flavors and mix-ins to concoct your own special treat to cool off with your friends in the summer heat.

 


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DESSERT

Butter Pecan Brittle

For the brown sugar ice cream

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup skim milk powder

1 2/3 cups whole milk

1 2/3 cups heavy cream

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pecan brittle

Butter for the baking sheet

12 ounces pecans, broken into pieces

1/2 cup golden syrup

1 cup organic cane sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Prepare an ice bath in a sink or a large, heatproof bowl. Fill a sink or heatproof bowl a quarter of the way with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice.

To make the brown sugar ice cream, combine the brown sugar, skim milk powder and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Make sure the skim milk powder is wholly dissolved into the mixture and that no lumps remain (any remaining sugar granules will dissolve over the heat). Stir in the cream.

Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly pour 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the egg-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.

Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and continue cooking the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches 165 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Transfer the pan to the prepared ice bath and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

To make the pecan brittle, butter a 12-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.

Spread the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet and toast them until they just begin to change color, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then transfer the pecans to a bowl and set aside. Reserve the prepared baking sheet for the brittle.

In a medium saucepan, combine the syrup, sugar, salt, butter and 1/4 cup water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the ingredients are combined and the sugar has dissolved, then continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 305 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecans and baking soda. Whisk vigorously for a few moments to combine. Move quickly, as the mixture will begin to set as the temperature drops. Spread the mixture evenly across the prepared baking sheet. Let cool until brittle, about 2 hours.

Chop the brittle into bite-size pieces and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.

Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, folding in the pecan brittle pieces as you do. Use as much of the brittle as you want; you won’t necessarily need the whole batch. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

Recipe from “Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop” by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna with Lauren Kaelin.


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DESSERT

Strawberries And Cream

1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries

1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4 cup skim milk powder

2 cups heavy cream

Place the strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar over them, tossing to coat them evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 6 to 8 hours. Unwrap the bowl; you’ll notice that the strawberries are now sitting in a pool of red, sugary water. Drain the strawberries in a colander in the sink.

Combine the milk, skim milk powder, remaining ¾ cup sugar, and strawberries in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the cream. Stir to combine. Transfer the base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

Adapted from two recipes in “Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop” by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna with Lauren Kaelin (Stewart Tabori & Chang).


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DESSERT

Sweet Cream And Cookies

12-ounce box or about 25 sandwich cookies

1 recipe Walt’s Dream (recipe below)

Place 6 cookies in the freezer for 1 hour. Transfer the cookies to a small food processor and process them into crumbs. Or, for slightly more fun, place the cookies in a zip-top bag and pound them with your fist! Set this cookie “powder” aside.

Prepare Walt’s Dream according to the recipe directions. Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and add the cookie powder. (This flavors the ice cream itself with the cookies and their cream filling.) Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Break the remaining cookies into quarters. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, folding in the cookie pieces as you do. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

Walt’s Dream

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup skim milk powder

1 2/3 cups whole milk

1 2/3 cups heavy cream

3 egg yolks

Prepare an ice bath in your sink or in a large heatproof bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, skim milk powder, and milk. Stir with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Make sure the skim milk powder is wholly dissolved into the mixture and that no lumps remain (any remaining sugar granules will dissolve over the heat). Stir in the cream.

Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to temper the egg yolks. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the egg-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.

Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and continue cooking the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches 165 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Transfer the pan to the prepared ice bath and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.

To make ice cream, transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or, if you want, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before churning.

After churning, serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.


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DESSERT

Vanilla Malted Ice Cream

12-ounce carton malted milk balls

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup skim milk powder

1 2/3 cups whole milk

1 2/3 cups heavy cream

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup malted milk powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the malted milk balls in the freezer for at least an hour.

Prepare an ice bath in a sink or a large, heatproof bowl. Fill the sink or bowl a quarter of the way with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, skim milk powder, and milk. Whisk until smooth, making sure the skim milk powder is completely dissolved. Stir in the cream. Add malted milk powder and whisk vigorously to combine.

Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to temper the egg yolks. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the yolk-milk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.

Return the pan to the stove top over medium heat and continue cooking, stirring often, until it reaches 165 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Transfer the pan to the prepared ice bath, add the vanilla and stir to combine. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator until completely cool.

Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. You can keep the base in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before churning.

Transfer the cooled base to a storage container, folding in the malted milk balls as you do. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours.

Adapted from two recipes in “Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop” by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna with Lauren Kaelin (Stewart Tabori & Chang).


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DESSERT

Stout And Pretzels

1 recipe dark chocolate (recipe below)

3/4 cup Guinness beer

1 1/2 cups chocolate-covered pretzels, chopped

Prepare an ice bath in a sink or a large, heatproof bowl. Fill a sink or heatproof bowl a quarter of the way with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice.

Prepare the dark chocolate according to the recipe. Once the base reaches 165 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and mix in the cooled chocolate paste, adding the Guinness at the same time. Transfer the pan to the ice bath, and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.

Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, folding in the pretzels as you do. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

Dark Chocolate

For the chocolate paste

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 recipe Walt’s Dream (recipe below)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the chocolate paste, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar and cocoa powder, whisking vigorously to combine. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and combined. Set aside to cool.

Prepare Walt’s Dream according to the recipe. Before you cool the base in the ice bath, stir in the chocolate paste and vanilla. Cool the mixture in the ice bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.

Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

Walt’s Dream

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup skim milk powder

1 2/3 cups whole milk

1 2/3 cups heavy cream

3 egg yolks

Prepare an ice bath in your sink or in a large heatproof bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, skim milk powder, and milk. Stir with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Make sure the skim milk powder is wholly dissolved into the mixture and that no lumps remain (any remaining sugar granules will dissolve over the heat). Stir in the cream.

Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to temper the egg yolks. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the egg-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.

Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and continue cooking the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches 165 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Transfer the pan to the prepared ice bath and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.

To make ice cream, transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or, if you want, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before churning.

After churning, serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.

Recipe from “Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop” by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna with Lauren Kaelin (Stewart Tabori & Chang).