Day 2: I cooked up a Chocolate ice cream and a Vanilla-Lemon ice cream. Let these chill in the fridge overnight.
Day 3: Churned the ice creams. I made “divider cards” for the containers by cutting up postcards to size, and wrapping these in parchment paper.
I filled half the containers with Choc ice cream and cookie pieces, and let these sit in the freezer for a few hours, on their sides, to prevent the soft chocolate ice cream from seeping under the cardboard onto the other side.
When the chocolate ice cream had firmed up a bit, I churned the Vanilla-Lemon ice cream (I have a NewAir compressor machine so I can make more than one batch per day) I then removed the cards, and filled the other half of the containers.
Black and White ice cream! With black and white cookies!
I am very lucky that I live within walking distance of RAMEKIN (Los Angeles) so last night my friends and I were the first customers in line to taste Matthew Biancaniello's trio of exotic boozy savory ice creams.
*Laphroaig with chocolate covered blanched garlic, topped with Matthew’s signature Never Let Me Go (Cynar cassis and blood orange), toasted saffron, and blood orange slices… and peppers
The tequila squid ink was our favorite … also the favorite of the guy sitting at the next table, and MB himself. It was the least salty of the three and had the most amazing combination of flavors. The saffron laphroaig was nice and had a touch of spice and citrus; and the parmesan flavor was much more subtle than expected. Neither of us liked the dehydrated olives… which was the saltiest element in the ice cream trio, and the rum-marinated surinam cherries were like, wow. They taste like spicy tomatoes! The whole experience was pretty exotic and cool.
My first impression of the New Air machine was - wow! It is huge. And the canister looks tiny. It’s hard to imagine that 1 quart of ice cream will fit in there but it does! So far, I have made 4 ice creams in this machine: Bacon (with Pineapple), Spicy Chocolate, Celery (with Rum Raisins) & Banana (with Date Caramel).
KEY FEATURES of the NEWAIR:
1. The machine is self-cooling with a compressor so the canister bowl doesn’t need to be frozen before spinning. This is super convenient and because the bowl is so small anyway, I keep it in the freezer. It doesn’t take up much space.
2. Ingredients don’t have to be cold before spinning. This is not an advantage for me because I like to chill my ice cream mixture overnight anyway to let the flavors intensify. But if you are in a hurry (and have at least 60 minutes), this is another convenient feature.
This is my pre-chilled Spicy Chocolate ice cream mixture…
3. The machine runs on automatic… Set the timer, walk away and let it do its magic. There is a tiny opening in the plastic lid if you want to add in extra ingredients during the last minutes of spinning. The default time is 60 mins, and it will automatically stop spinning when the ice cream is done - even if the 60 mins isn’t up yet. The machine will also keep the ice cream cold, after it is done.
As my ice cream mixture is already cold before spinning, I find that the process takes roughly 40 minutes. A bit longer than the Cuisinart’s 20 minutes.
4. No noise! I love that it’s so silent, unlike the Cuisinart.
CHALLENGES & TIPS:
1. This New Air ice cream machine is a beast. It’s large and weighs 30lbs. It takes up a lot of precious kitchen counter space.
2. There are more parts than the Cuisinart and they are quite awkward to fit together. For instance, there’s a heavy “motor” thing with a stick that has to slot into the canister lid AND also into a hole on top of tiny plastic paddle which has to be positioned inside the canister at the correct angle so that the motor stick fits. It’s a bit like an Ikea assembly exercise and I keep feeling like I am going to break something. TIP: A chopstick will help line up the paddle opening with the plastic lid opening.
3. The second time I used this machine, the canister was frozen stuck and I could not lift it out of the machine. Tip from fellow ice cream maker David Vo (who has had experience with compressor-based ice cream machines): "Wipe down the outside of the canister with alcohol (eg, Vodka) before lowering it into the machine. The high freezing point of alcohol will prevent the metal canister from sticking". Yes, this works.
SO HOW IS THE ICE CREAM?
Good ice cream! There is some inconsistency with the freezing… it tends to be solid down the bottom and on the sides, and softer on top and in the middle. (The Cuisinart result has a more consistent soft-serve texture throughout.) But this is not a big deal. I don’t know if the ice cream tastes “commercial grade” because I don’t buy commercial ice creams…
Here is the Bacon ice cream from the night before. Sorry, bad lighting, but you can see what I mean.
The top/middle part is soft. Underneath and around the sides - frozen solid. This was after 60 minutes and the ice cream mixture was already cold before I added it to the machine. Increasing the freezing time would not remedy this issue because the paddle will stop anyway, as soon as the ice cream at the bottom becomes hard.
To sum up, the Cuisinart, for all its noise and low-tech-ness, is more user-friendly. The Cuisinart parts fit together and can be separated with ease. The New Air parts are more fiddly…. I really dislike that paddle. It’s messy to lift out of the canister. (Not that it is entirely a bad thing to get ice cream all over your fingers).
On the other hand, the New Air machine is very convenient if you don’t have time to hang around the kitchen watching and waiting for the ice cream to be done, and just want to load in the ingredients and push a button.
*UPDATE: I have used the New Air machine several more times and I am liking it more and more! It is especially convenient for fruit sorbets that don’t require ‘cooking’. Puree the ingredients, pour into the machine and it’s done in 30 minutes - perfect frozen consistency and ready to eat.
I have just signed up for the 2013 WHOLE LIFE CHALLENGE, a rigorous diet-exercise routine that forbids me to consume any DAIRY, SUGAR, or PROCESSED FOODS for 8 weeks. I see this as a creative cooking challenge and am quite excited about it. I am already making almond milk every few days.
What this means though is that for the next 8 weeks, my homemade ice cream menu will be limited to only two flavors: Cherimoya and Banana, which are basically PURE FRUIT - frozen and blended with a bit of almond milk or coconut milk.
I was in Malaysia and Hong Kong last month and vowed to consume some local ice cream flavors, which I did! Nope, no durian because I don’t really like the taste of durian, but I enjoyed samplings of jackfruit, soursop, starfruit, red bean ice creams. Yes, I have been inspired by my travels but it so happens that I am overwhelmed with work this month or I would be making more ice creams!
Flavors on my list include:
Kaya Toastice cream (This is a popular Malaysian breakfast)
I will be adding more designs and items over the next couple of weeks. If you have any special requests, e.g., a t-shirt with your favorite flavor character on it (see this list), please let me know via the comments or on the We All Scream Facebook page and I will be glad to make this available!
* There is FREE SHIPPING until September 16, 2012, worldwide!*
Bi-Rite, Humphrey Slocombe, Full Tilt & Molly Moon
Arrived home today from a quick trip up north and of course, I had to visit the local ice creameries!
Our first stop was the famous Bi-Rite Creamery. There was a long line out the door which meant no time for me to sample every flavor.
Everyone raves about Bi-Rite’s Salted Caramel so that was what we ordered, along with a Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle. Both flavors were absolutely amazing. Uber rich, creamy, luscious, decadent to-die-for ice cream. Totally worth the hype!
Unfortunately we were only doing a quick stop in SF so there was no time to try one of their signature sundaes. How amazing does this sound? —> “Dainty gentleman: honey lavender ice cream, hot fudge, blood orange olive oil & maldon sea salt”.
The next morning, we delayed our departure time from SF so that we could visit Humphry Slocombe - famous for their adventurous flavors. I was so excited I had already bought their book even before visiting the shop.
After sampling almost all the flavors on the menu that day, I was particularly blown away by the Jesus Juice Sorbet (coke and red wine) which I paired with some Secret Breakfast (bourbon, vanilla, cornflakes). Yes, it was a boozy start to the morning. The Black Sesame that Nathan ordered was really good too.
Full Tilt Ice Cream is an old school pinball arcade type ice cream shop. My friend Julissa and I visited the Columbia City location and we sampled a few flavors including the Vegan Blue Moon, Horchata and Salted Caramel. We ended up sharing an enormous scoop of the Birthday Cake ice cream which had cake (thumbs up!) and colorful sprinkles in it.
We had time left for only one more - Molly Moon - Seattle’s most famous artisanal ice cream shop, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a Boston Terrier in their logo!!! :)
The cute shop on Capitol Hill was very busy when we arrived so we didn’t sample too many flavors. I found most of the fruity flavors a bit too subtle but the Salted Caramel was delicious. Nathan enjoyed the Stumptown Coffee and I got the Honey Lavender.
Of all the ice creams tasted, I would say that Bi Rite and Humphrey Slocombe were my favorites.
Now back in L.A. I feel the need to organize some sort of ice cream tasting tour. Mashti Malones, Carmelas, Fosselmans, Scoops Westside, Coolhaus…Who wants to join me?
Jeni Britton Bauer is the James Beard award-winning author of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home - the wonderful book (now in its 9th printing!) that inspired me to make delicious ice creams, experiment with flavors and start this blog.
Jeni was in L.A. this weekend as part of her national book signing tour. I had the pleasure of meeting her at Gelson’s Supermarket, Silverlake. It was a big thrill, and I was so chuffed. She complimented me on my illustrated ice cream recipes and signed my food-stained copy of her book…
The authors use at least 1/2 cup of alcohol in their boozy ice creams - which is usually too much alcohol for ice cream to freeze properly. (The typical amount is 1/4 cup per quart)
Their answer is gelatin, which is first dissolved in water, then mixed with alcohol and used to spike the chilled ice cream base before churning.
Alas, I am a weekday vegetarian and have many vegetarian friends so gelatin is a problem. I have been Googling around for a replacement ratio for xanthan gum, and all I could find was this article, which says “Measure out half the amount of xanthan gum in lieu of the full amount of gelatin that a recipe calls for”.
In most cases, the boozy ice cream recipes in Ice Cream Happy Hour call for 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of gelatin. 1/4 - 1/2 tablespoon of xanthan gum seems like a lot…
Anyway, I am sharing here my first extra boozy ice cream experiment: White Russian Ice Cream, adapting the recipe from Ice Cream Happy Hour where I thicken the base with Jeni’s method (corn starch instead of eggs) and replace the gelatin with half the amount of xanthan gum.
Whew. This looks more like a normal ice cream custard now.
30 minutes later, I am perturbed to report that the thick and creamy mixture had not firmed up any more in the machine. However, this is exactly how the ice cream looks in the authors’ own ‘White Russian ice cream’ video so maybe I got it right. Let’s hope it firms up in the freezer in a few hours from now. So far, it has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel and I will not be driving any time soon.
If you have any tips to share on making extra boozy ice creams, please do! Especially on combining alcohol with xanthan gum. I am also curious if agar would be a better replacement for gelatin.
Next: Chocolatini Ice Cream.
*PS. I will be making the White Russian ice cream again and experimenting with way less xanthan gum and also agar and/or guar gum.