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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (to serve with Tarte Tatin)

Homemade vanilla ice cream with salted butter caramel sauce

Out of habit, I bought some apples at the grocery store.  The girls used to eat them every day and we went through them quickly.  Now that we are just two, they don't really get eaten.   With a few apples in the fridge that I didn't want to throw away, I decided to make tarte tatin for desert one night.

Before I began I had to get some vanilla ice cream. You CANNOT serve apple pie, in any shape or form, without good vanilla ice cream!  So I trekked down the hill to the grocery store.    As it turns out, a small container of good vanilla ice cream is 12 - 13 Swiss Francs!!!! That would be about 14 - 15 $ Canadian.   OMG, who can afford to buy ice cream!?  I think I actually gasped out loud.  So I decided to make my own at home.

Every time I make ice cream I am amazed at how easy it is.  The only thing is that you need and ice cream maker (which I happen to have).  It's not a complicated appliance or too expensive.  You do however have to plan ahead in that you must place the machine's bowl in the freezer for 12 hours to freeze it.   After that, its just a little crème anglaise and a  flip of the switch and you have ice cream.

Really easy with only 5 ingredients and makes enough to last a while.  People are always really impressed when you tell them you made your own ice cream.  Plus, it will have lots of little vanilla seed specks and be will be a beautiful light yellow color, very rich and creamy.

You will need:

For the Vanilla Ice Cream:
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of milk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of heavy cream
  • 170 g ( about 3/4 cup) of sugar
  • 6 egg yolks (use good quality organic eggs - the yolks are very yellow and give it a really rich color)
  • 1.5 vanilla beans, sliced lengthwise and seeds scraped with the back edge of a knife

  1. Put half the sugar, the milk, cream, scraped vanilla seeds and the beans themselves (to infuse) in a saucepan on medium heat until bubbles start to form on the edge (you don't need to stir this as the sugar will form a caramel at the bottom of the pan and prevent the milk from sticking);
  2. Whisk the remaining sugar with the egg yolks until the mixture lightens (wait to do this until the cream mixture is hot as the sugar will cook the eggs if you let it sit too long);
  3. Gently pour the hot milk/cream into the eggs whisking quickly (if you add the hot milk too fast, you'll cook the eggs and they will scramble.  By slowly pouring the hot cream into the eggs, the  temperature of the eggs rises slowly and you avoid this problem - this is tempering the eggs);
  4. Return the combined ingredients to the saucepan and gently heat (medium low), stirring constantly.  The mixture will thicken and when it coats the back of a spoon, it is ready (this now becomes a crème anglaise).
  5. Pass through a fine strainer and let cool in an ice bath (cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface);
  6. Once cooled, pour into the frozen ice cream maker bowl and turn on.  It should take about 40  minutes to reach the right texture (it will be the consistency of soft ice cream and will continue to harden in freezer);
  7. Transfer to a covered plastic container and keep in the freezer until ready to use.

Note:  If you need crème anglaise, just let the ice cream melt.  You can also add cinnamon sticks to the milk/cream mixture when it is heating to create a cinnamon/vanilla ice cream.  Really good with the apple tarte tatin.

For the Salted Butter Caramel:

  • 150 g of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 150 g of heavy cream
  • 30 g of salted butter
  • pinch of sea salt (fleur de sel)

  1. Make a caramel by putting the sugar in a pan with the water and cook on medium high heat until golden in color (the sugar usually colors unevenly so just swirl the pan around a little, then brush down the sides to remove sugar deposits with a pastry brush dipped in water);
  • Note:  Don't stir the sugar as this will allow air into the mixture and it may crystallize.  This would give you lumps in the final caramel.
  1. Heat the cream on medium heat while the sugar is coloring;
  2. Very slowly pour the cream into the sugar and stir (be very careful as the caramel will bubble up);
  3. Continue cooking until all the sugar is dissolved and it has boiled for a few minutes.  Remove from heat;
  4. Add the butter and pinch of salt and let cool;
  5. The caramel will thicken as it cools and can be reheated in the microwave when ready to serve.
  6. Place in a squeeze bottle that you can cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for a least one week.

Note:  This caramel sauce can be served with a number of deserts and as a topping for ice cream.

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