In the last 10 weeks, we’ve become pretty taken with homemade ice cream. If you know me that isn’t surprising. Ice-cream has been my all time favorite dessert since the first time my Dad shared it with me as a child. Some of my best memories happened standing outside High’s Dairy in Maryland eating ice cream cones.
In fact, growing up in the 80’s, cake & ice-cream were always served at birthday parties. The cake was always dry with think, sugary icing. Cake, in a word, made me thirsty. But ice cream–Oh, the heavenly, cool creaminess. Ice cream seemed to both quench my thirst and leave me wanting more. (I never realized ice cream was like good sex until this very minute…) Sorry. Focus. Ok.
Anyway, I finally figured out that I didn’t like cake, that ice-cream was my jam. So one day, when I was probably 7 years old, I asked the lady serving the cake & ice-cream at one of those birthday parties if I could just have the ice cream without the cake. Looking at me as if I had just stolen something, she haughtily said No! and slapped a big square of yellow cake on my paper plate. It was as if I’d asked her for money or sworn at church. After that I assumed that cake & ice-cream were only served together and something must be wrong with me for not liking the combination.
Fast forward to 2020. I was doing some reading about ice cream makers and my husband offered to buy one if I would agree to stop paying 6 Euros a pint for Häagen-Dazs. Done! I said. So, as a gift to ourselves during the first weeks of the quarantine, we purchased the ice-cream attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer.
My first inclination was that making ice-cream should be a simple and require the least amount of time possible. I was interested in being able to make a good vanilla but hadn’t thought much further than that.
I tried out a number of different methods and very quickly got sucked down the rabbit hole of ice cream lovers and makers. The chemistry of ice cream making and the challenge of getting that perfect, subtle flavor fill the spaces in my mind in between everything else. Forgetting completely that I thought it should be a short process without much thought involved, I have become a devotee of Jeni from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams fame.
Jeni’s is close to my heart because I tried her ice cream for the very first time at her very first shop in Columbus, Ohio in about 2007. On a different trip I had already eaten Graeter’s Black Raspberry chocolate Chip (another delicious mid-west tradition) when I found myself at the North Market in Columbus. Flying out that very afternoon I could not turn down a chance to try some of Jeni’s other flavors, so I ate ice-cream twice that day.
There are shorter ways of making ice cream. But I enjoy the measuring and combining of the ingredients. I find the whole process to be kind of zen. Well almost.
Today Big Sister and I were working on Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the world. Never one to leave good enough alone, I was concerned that maybe the chocolate flavor would be toooo dark for my littles ones and was considered adding less chocolate powder than called for. As I was thinking out loud, Big Sister said, Mom, you always try to go your own way and then when you’re done you say, “I should’ve listened to Jeni.” (Just to remind you, she is four.) You’re right, I answered and added the full cup of chocolate powder.
So now it’s time to churn the ice cream in the machine. I pour the chilled chocolate mixture in but while over zealously squeezing the bag, I squirted it all over the wall. When I returned to the ice-cream maker after cleaning it up, the churning mechanism was frozen to the sides of the churning bowl. The ice cream froze so quickly that it couldn’t spin. So the Kitchen Aid is making this terrible clinking, banging, scratching sound and I’m trying to turn it off. Then I get to work trying to scrape the freezing chocolate mixture from the inside of the ice-cream bowl so that the scraping paddle attachment can turn, but it keeps refreezing.
At that very moment Little Bean appears to say that she needs to tell me something. I turn around to see what it is and she says that she’s hit her head. (But she looks fine.) I’m ok now, she says and walks away. Ok, thanks! I turn back and the ice cream has frozen again. She comes back and starts to tell me another very important thing and this time I nearly shout, without turning around, I really can’t help you this minute. You’ll have to play until I get this ice cream situation under control.
Whining ensued but I could hardly hear her over the stress in my head that this beautiful chocolate was somehow going to freeze solid and go to waste having never been churned. Just as my brain really started to go over the edge, I got the attachment churning and all was right with the world again.
Then I turned to Big Sister, who looked like like she’s just witnessed a car wreck. Well that was exciting! I say to her. She responds, Exciting or exhausting…
Well, everyone has their different perspectives. The ice cream is in the freezer. Taste test tomorrow.