i’ve been bewitched by food porn in the form of ice cream sandwiches. back in boston last week, i snatched the last issue of gourmet from my house and spent parts of a long car ride and a plane trip devouring articles on chinese bbq in canada, mentally planning an extended stay at an organic farm outside beijing, and fantasizing about caramel. i was particularly attracted to the idea of homemade ice cream sandwiches, as depicted on the magazine cover to the right which entices me with its summery colors like a party dress at a bash in the hamptons with lusciously rich desserts from swanky catering companies. to drive the point home, there’s a huge section on homemade ice cream. and as if to prove the power of visual stimulation, there is currently homemade ice cream in my freezer right now. it’s slowly edging its way to the crystallization phase and then i will jump on it and break up those crystals, because i don’t have an ice cream maker. although in case you’re wondering, my birthday was last week and i am still accepting presents.
i tried to rationalize the purchase of an ice cream maker to myself, but it makes no sense because a) i’m not sure how long i’m going to be in london so i shouldn’t purchase large kitchen appliances; b) i am not currently drawing a salary, which should also preclude me from purchasing expensive kitchen appliances; and c) what if i buy the ice cream maker and it ends up in the yuppie graveyard? that’s a phrase popularized by my friend jessica, which refers to inanely expensive and largely superfluous kitchen appliances designed for a single task which generally end up suffering a pathetically lonely existence in the yuppie graveyard of the nether regions of your dusty pantry. exhibit A for the yuppie graveyard: the jimmy buffett margaritaville frozen concoction maker. really? you’re going to spend $300 to make ‘perfect frosty drinks’ with your own salt rimmer? by comparison, the ice cream maker is an immensely useful kitchen necessity! or so i tried to convince myself. i even went so far as to make my case to flatmate/colleague/roommate/partner chris, who gently reminded me that people somehow made ice cream before the discovery of electricity and so can i. although did people make frozen daiquiris before there were automated frosty drink makers? i’m not so sure.
sooo. back to the ice cream. at least i’ve got a freezer, suckers! by suckers i mean those pre-electricity cooks who had to use an icebox or…snow…or…baby jesus tears…um, how did they make ice cream back then? i suppose that, unless you had access to big blocks of ice, you just had to (gasp!) not make ice cream. man, let’s give it up for electricity. thanks electricity, for helping me make ice cream even without an appliance intended for that specific purpose. because thanks to the highly food-pornographic and informative blog of david lebovitz, author of the perfect scoop and undeniable homemade ice cream expert, i now know how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. fabulous.
next came the dilemma of what kind of ice cream to make. i’m into interesting ice cream flavors – when my friends go vanilla i choose salted caramel, when they opt for chocolate i’m all ‘secret breakfast‘ – but i’m also lazy, so i was happy to remember a big hunk of ginger already chilling (literally! ha!) in the freezer. serendipitously, there’s a recipe for white chocolate and ginger ice cream on david’s blog so i left out the chocolate and did my best to recreate the magic. otherwise the recipe is nearly identical, so you can just read it there.
and…the results? well, you’ll just have to be patient. or rather, i had to be very patient. here’s an approximate rundown of how the ice cream by hand process went.
7pm – begin Operation: Ice Cream Without Ice Cream Maker
8pm – ginger blanched, cream and milk mixture steeped
9pm – sugar and egg whites added, mixture heated, custard created and in freezer.
9:45pm – open freezer. check ice cream. still liquid. stir. replace in freezer. lick spoon and taste delicious gingery creaminess that is decadently rich and eggy but nowhere near ice cream consistency. wait 30 minutes.
10:15pm – repeat previous step. ice cream marginally less liquid. should still be referred to as just cream.
10:45pm – ditto.
11:15pm – ditto.
11:45pm – ditto.
this continued until past 3am, at which point the thought actually went through my jet-lagged and hazy head: ‘wouldn’t it be nice if there was a machine that could do this?’
AHAHAHA. isn’t that ironic.
check freezer. ice cream suspended somewhere in the grey area between liquid and frozen. stir when possible to break up ice crystals. realize that tiny british refrigerator with freezer that could more be accurately described as ‘ice-encrusted shelf’ might not quite reach the appropriate temperature to make homemade ice cream. think to self, maybe this was a dumb idea.
spend all day out of the house. return home late, check freezer and…the ice cream is sbsolutely amazing. a little goopy, texturally resembling soft serve more than a true scoop that could hold its own on a hard cone. but the flavor is incredible – intense, sublime cold creaminess with a tiny ginger kick, like rolling around on a huge white bed piled high with super soft downy duvets and airy pillow clouds in a chilly sugar-frosted winter wonderland. in a word, heavenly.
sadly, none of these photos come close to doing the ice cream justice. next steps after the lottery winning and the ice cream maker purchase will be acquisition of a digital SLR and some good lighting. and i vow that none of these items will end up in the yuppie graveyard.