This past Christmas, I received a lot of amazing gifts from my beautiful parents (HI MOM!) like this, this and this (among many other awesome things as well). But I think the present I was most excited for was the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker! I had never made homemade ice cream before and I was so stoked to get it and make this dream come true.
I will back track and say that ice cream has never been my favorite dessert. Sure, I love it but not as much as a cupcake piled high with cream cheese frosting or a warm, buttery chocolate chip cookie. But I live with serious ice cream lovers and it has really grown on me as well, so I wanted to make this dream a reality. So far, I have made three different kinds of ice cream. One was this lemon recipe from Epicurious, espresso from Ina Garten via Food Network and lastly (and the most exciting) was the vegan Coconut Milk ice cream adapted from this recipe. I will briefly review each one and just let you know what I think about the ice cream making process and obviously the best part: eating the ice cream.
First off, I will review the ice cream maker. Since I have no frame of reference, I would say this ice cream maker is pretty bad ass. It is easy to manuever, easy to clean up and is pretty self-explanatory when you open it up. The only thing I would say that is unpleasant about it is the noise. It is REALLY LOUD. For me, I didn't mind so much because I put it on a blanket in my room and shut the door and let it do its thing. But if you have neighbors who already hate you or a baby sleeping, I would not suggest using this machine. Now moving on to the good stuff!
Ice Cream #1: Lemon
So I will start with my least favorite. And I only say least favorite because the other two were SO GOOD that this just happens to be third. It is fantastic ice cream so don't let me putting it in third deter you from making it. I am a lemon fiend so this was fantastic for me. It was so tart but still totally sweet and did not leave you looking for that lemon flavor. The only thing I changed about the recipe is that I used 1 c. of heavy cream instead of all half & half per reviewer's notes. I would say just stick with the recipe like it is. I made the espresso ice cream with all half & half and the texture was pretty stellar. I definitely used 1 c. of sugar because I was afraid to stray in fear of my lemon ice cream being way too tart. So yeah, basically stick with the recipe, that's my words of wisdom.
(I don't have pics of the ice cream, so deal with this cartoon that for some reason made me giggle. Who knew lemons were so funny?)
#2 Ice Cream: Espresso
So, I have severe problems with Ina Garten but that woman makes a damn fine ice cream. Or at least her underlings do and she just shows us how to do it on TV. The only thing I changed here was not adding in the chocolate covered espresso beans, which I'm sure is fantastic but would have been overkill in my eyes. And like, I didn't want to spend the money on them (let's be totally honest here). This had such a wonderful coffee flavor without being "too much" of a good thing. It smells weird once you cook it and strain it and let it sit in the fridge. I'm not sure why it smelled weird but I went with it anyway and it ended up being my favorite ice cream of them all. This one went the fastest. And since I still have half & half in my fridge, I will probably be making this again. (Ooooh, and another gift I received via Amazon gift card was instant espresso powder by Ferrara, so good.)
(Another photo that is not mine from Sugar Crafter)
#3: Vegan Coconut Milk Ice Cream
So yeah, the vegan ice cream is an elusive she-goddess. I know there are tons of awesome vegan ice creams out there (So Delicious, Tofutti, etc.) but I just haven't been really keen on any of them. As someone who still eats dairy, I guess I was looking for something that mimics the real thing. I realize how ridiculous that is but this Coconut Milk Ice Cream was like a godsend to me. So to start, I used one low-fat and one full-fat can of coconut milk. It's what I had on hand and it worked great. I left the banana out because I wanted pure coconut flavor and instead of arrowroot powder, I used cornstarch. And I wanted a "tropical" element (because we need it in Chicago in January) to my ice cream so I added fresh pineapple. I put it in a strainer for about an hour to drain the juices and then patted it dry with a paper towel. Okay, so everything went swimmingly when I made the base but note to everyone if you make this: DO NOT ADD IN THE PINEAPPLE UNTIL AFTER THE ICE CREAM IS DONE CHURNING. I stupidly put it in the canister with the coconut milk base and it froze up (from the residual water in the pineapple) after about 25 minutes. It churned enough where I could just put it in a container and freeze it and was still wonderful but learn from my mistake. Put your add-ins at the end, not the beginning. Despite that mistake, albeit a delicious one, this ice cream was off the charts. It had that silky mouth feel you get from dairy desserts and a wonderful subtle coconut flavor. I think next time I might throw in some toasted coconut at the end as well. So much better than store bought!
(Photo courtesy of The Whinery 2.0)
Whew! That's a lot of words. Thank you reading this all if you got through it. I know this may not pertain to all but it is worth checking out a cheapo ice cream maker to make these recipes. If you have recipe suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Beyond the espresso recipe again, I'd love to try a strawberry cheesecake or peach melba. Yum. Enjoy! And keep warm!