When our new kitchen is installed this fall, organization will be priority one. My husband, Les, and I are not doing all this planning and spending only to fall into the same jumbled mess of stuff we started with. To that point, every gadget we own is going to be catching a little side eye, as we make some hard, overdue decisions about what deserves to stay in our beautiful new prime real estate and what must go.
One small electric that has already passed muster in my mind is my Cuisinart ice cream maker. This device gets plenty of action at our house, and I have no complaints about it whatsoever. It’s easy to use, requires no hand-cranking effort or rock salt, and it quickly churns out up to two quarts of ice cream at a time. I purchased it several years ago (when I lived in a different kitchen) and it was one of the first things I laid claim to when I struck out on my own. I have made some delicious, memorable ice creams with this machine, and it technically does not fall into the single-purpose category because I can also use it to make sorbets and fruity wine slushies. How could I not love that, especially during summer?
Check out these fun ice cream flavors I churned out in summer of 2020:
July is one of my favorite months, not only because I will celebrate my birthday in the late part of the month, but also because it happens to be National Ice Cream Month! For your summer refreshment pleasure, I’ll be sharing several delicious ice cream recipes in the coming weeks. If you enjoy ice cream (especially if you like unexpected flavor combinations), I urge you to make a small, one-time investment in an ice cream machine. Sure, there are about a million “no-churn” recipes for ice cream on Pinterest and other internet sites, but if you look closely at some of those recipes, they often depend on numerous extra steps to produce the texture you expect in an ice cream, including setting a timer to pull it out of the freezer every couple of hours to stir it up. I’d rather just use an ice cream maker and be done with it.
The first ice cream for 2021 is pistachio, and though this was my first time making this particular flavor, it was simple because it begins with my “basic” formula for custard-based ice cream, which is as follows:
- 1 1/2 cups each of heavy cream and whole milk
- 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 3 free-range egg yolks
The cream and milk are heated together with half of the sugar, and the egg yolks are whipped with the rest of it. When the cream mixture is hot enough, I whisk it into the whipped yolks to temper them, then it all goes back into the pot to cook until custardy. From that point, you can flavor it up as you like, chill it and then churn it in the ice cream machine. Homemade ice cream has a somewhat shorter shelf life than store-bought because it doesn’t have any weird, chemistry-lab ingredients. But here’s the fun flip side—you don’t need homemade ice cream to have a long shelf life because it’s usually gobbled up within a few days anyway!
To infuse this ice cream with the unique flavor of pistachio, I toasted the pistachios briefly, pulsed them in the food processor, and then infused their flavor into the cream mixture. I double-strained the mixture to remove the gritty bits of pistachio before tempering the eggs, but next time I will use cheesecloth to simplify that step. At the end of the freeze-churn stage, I added roasted pieces of pistachio for extra flavor and texture. A little touch of amaretto churned in during the final minute gave the ice cream a perfectly scoopable consistency for serving, straight from the freezer.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup organic cane sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
1 cup raw, unsalted pistachio meats, divided
1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur (optional at the end of churning, for improved texture)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast the pistachio meats on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 7 minutes, or until fragrant and toasty. Remove from oven and cool. Divide pistachios evenly, transferring half of them to a food processor bowl. Pulse a few times until the nuts are reduced to small bits, but not to the point of powder. Use a sharp knife to gently chop the remaining pistachios. Set them aside for mixing into the ice cream during freezing.
- Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add half the amount of sugar and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved. Add the pulverized pistachios to the milk mixture and simmer until the mixture is hot but not quite boiling. Remove from heat and let this stand for about 10 minutes. This will steep the pistachio flavor into the cream mixture.
- When steeping is finished (you will know because the cream mixture will have taken on a slightly chartreuse green color), pour the mixture through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the nut solids. Clean out the saucepan and dry it. Return the strained cream mixture to the pan and heat over medium until it returns to the not-quite-boiling stage.
- While the cream mixture is heating, use a hand or stand mixer to whip the egg yolks until silky. Add the sugar, a little bit at a time, mixing well and stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whip until the mixture is soft, light and lemon-colored.
- Measure out about 2 cups of the milk-cream mixture. Slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking or beating with electric mixer the entire time. This step will temper the eggs, gradually cooking them without scrambling or breaking them.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk-cream mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard begins to slightly thicken and coats the back of your spoon.
- Remove from heat immediately. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Lay a film of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent condensation from forming. Cover the entire bowl with a lid or additional plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until fully chilled.
- When you’re ready to freeze the ice cream, give the cream mixture a good stirring to minimize any settling that has occurred in the fridge. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. My Cuisinart takes about 20 minutes. Sift the reserved pistachio nuts in a mesh strainer to remove any powdery crumbs from chopping them. Add them to the ice cream machine only for the last few minutes. Add amaretto (optional, but recommended) for the final minute of mixing. You will not taste the alcohol, but its addition ensures easy scooping of the ice cream straight from the freezer. If you avoid alcohol, or if you will be serving children, skip it and simply remove the ice cream from the freezer about 15 minutes ahead of serving.