Ice Cream Churned and Not Churned

I love ice cream in summer. Actually I love it all year round. Here on the island, we can go to Billy Warren’s Dark Harbor Shop for ice cream cones and sundaes from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. It seems luxurious to stop for ice cream right on the island. The rest of the time, if we want ice cream after supper, we better have it in the freezer.

As it happened, this past weekend, Toby and I went off to the mainland to Bayside over in Northport, where Toby spent summers in his youth, to attend a reunion of some of his old gang. Some of these folks hadn’t seen each other for sixty years, and Peter Freeman and his wife Nancy hosted the group. We did a potluck and Pete made ice cream for dessert using a Martha Stewart recipe for no-churn vanilla ice cream! He found the recipe online, and we watched the how-to video. It was really tasty–creamy, smooth, everything ice cream ought to be.

As with most frozen things, you have to plan ahead at least a little, in this case six hours. It is built around sweetened condensed milk and a pint of heavy cream. Vanilla extract and a couple of teaspoons of bourbon, which Pete didn’t use, provide flavoring. I do keep condensed milk around all the time; that, and evaporated, too. They are very useful, even though the condensed has an egregious amount of sugar in it. It’s really milk jam, come to think of it, milk preserved with sugar

All you do is stir two teaspoons each of vanilla extract and bourbon into one, fourteen ounce, can of condensed milk, then beat two cups of heavy cream until you have stiff peaks, then fold the cream into the milk and vanilla. Martha says to freeze it in a loaf pan covered with plastic wrap, but I don’t know why you can’t use a different container if you want. That’s it.

My actual all-time favorite homemade ice cream, though, is an old recipe from a cookbook printed in 1882, Mary Henderson’s Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving, for chocolate ice cream. With this recipe, you have to do the whole custard-making thing; chill it, whip cream, fold it in, and then churn it. A lot of people have electric churns these days with the drum that you stick in the freezer ahead of time to provide the chilling. So even if you don’t exert yourself to the extent of cranking, you still have to put effort into making this ice cream. It’s worth it. The result is a creamy premium ice cream with a rich, chocolaty flavor.

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

6 egg yolks

1 teaspoon gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups whipping or heavy cream

In a double boiler or a very heavy saucepan, scald the milk. When bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Add the chocolate broken up, and melt it in the milk and sugar, stirring the mixture from time to time, until it is all dissolved. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, and then add a half cup or so of the hot milk and sugar to the eggs, stir them together and then add the tempered eggs to the rest of milk in the pan. Watching carefully, and keeping the temperature at a medium heat, stir the egg and milk mixture until it thickens, and will coat the back of a spoon. Add the gelatin and vanilla, and chill the custard until it is very cold.

When you are ready to freeze the ice cream, whip the cream until it makes soft peaks, fold it into the custard, and freeze it in your churn according to the churn directions.

Makes about a quart of ice cream.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.