I’m not really all work and no play; I just have too much work, so I can find time for the play but rarely the documentation of said play.
But play is screaming for attention tonight, because I’m making ice cream.
I clearly don’t do this enough, because I actually forgot to stick the mixing arm in the bowl until after I’d started the machine. But it’s a crying shame, honestly. Homemade ice cream is ridiculously easy — it just takes some investment in an ice cream machine ($50) and the dairy aisle. Helpful as well are several guests or a strong personal resistance to temptation. (Thankfully I am not the type to smother my sorrows in a pint of cold fat. However, it means that making ice cream is often kind of a waste in my house, since I don’t pack that much away.)
Tonight I’m going for the gold (well, speckled ivory, really). We’ve been invited to a dinner party as one of a group of “gastronomes,” which I’m assuming means I need to bring something interesting.
I’m going back to my Advanced Baking and Pastry days, when I kicked some serious ass with an apple charlotte and some fancy accoutrements, including a dramatically long, curled caramel tuile that, sadly, is not going to make an appearance tomorrow. The revised plan: individual apple tartlets with caramel sauce and sour cream ice cream.
(Writing this, I realize I should really be serving tarte tatins. But dealing with blazing-hot caramel in small pans I don’t own in someone else’s kitchen…maybe not such a good idea.)
Sour cream ice cream is brilliant: your favorite vanilla, rich and flecked with loads of real vanilla bean, but with a vivid tang and a filthily decadent richness you aren’t going to find at the corner store. The closest relative is certainly crème fraîche ice cream, or yogurt-flavored gelato from Vivoli in Firenze — which, by the way, has nothing whatsoever to do with “fro-yo.” (European yogurt is the best because it’s fat.)
I couldn’t locate the recipe I used in school, so I went with this version from Gourmet. It’s still churning, but after several dozen tastes…well, I’m optimistic that I can save a little for the party.
Sour Cream Ice Cream
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
8 large egg yolks
2 cups (1 pint) sour cream
In heavy saucepan combine half-and-half, 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla bean and bring just to a boil. Remove pan from heat. in a bowl whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and hot half-and-half mixture in a stream, whisking. Return custard to pan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until 170°F on a candy thermometer.
Remove pan from heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into custard until combined well and discard pod. Stir sour cream into custard until combined well and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Chill custard until cold and freeze in an ice-cream maker.
Makes about 1 quart.