I had been thinking about getting an ice cream maker for the past two summers. But I hadn’t been able to justify spending $80 plus for something that might potentially supply me with an endless inventory of ice cream. And yet, as I look on the countertop, I can’t deny that somehow an ice cream machine mysteriously sits atop. Last month, I finally bit the bullet. As much as I contemplated on it for so long, I have absolutely no regrets. I thank my ice cream maker for joining my kitchen staff, and I’ll report that it’s getting along with my other many kitchen appliances.
Endless ice cream may not be so bad. At least, it can or can’t be. That’s the beauty of homemade anything. You have a certain sense of control. Since I have a full control over what I put in my ice cream, it actually feels safer and more healthful. Surprisingly, I’ve also been eating less ice cream this year. Not really sure if that is due to the cooler summer (sorry for the heat wave dome afflicted areas) we’ve been having or because I have to actually work to eat a scoop of ice cream. Whichever it is, I’m glad for it.
My favorite part about this ice cream maker besides the fact that I can make it healthier (as in low-fat/non-fat or frozen yogurt and sorbet) is that I can make flavors that are not available in store-bought kinds, such as salted caramel with bitter sweet caramel chunks or Earl Grey lavender, something that seems like it should be a no-brainer standard flavor but isn't commercially available whatsoever.
This is actually what I made for potluck at work last week. I like that it takes no skill and it’s almost guaranteed that people will like it. It’s a perfect potluck item on a busy (or lazy) summer day. I said no skill because all you do is to mix a few ingredients together and pour it into the machine. But you really have to follow the instructions, exactly. I didn’t. So don’t repeat after me.
If you aren’t familiar, most modern day ice cream machines include a bowl with a magical liquid suspended in-between, which is what replaces the old-fashioned ice, salt, and bucket. In the recipe/instruction booklet, it said, “In general, freezing time is between 6 – 22 hours.” Well, that’s too broad of a range, isn’t it? Twenty-two is almost quadruple of six. So I just took that as 6 hours plus of freezing time. It also said “To determine whether the bowl is completely frozen, shake it. If you don’t hear liquid moving, the cooling liquid is frozen…”
After freezing the bowl for 6 hours, I took out the bowl from the freezer and shook it. I didn’t hear any liquid moving sound, but I could feel a mass of slushy ice that was almost frozen, shifting very slowly from one side to the other. This was my first time; I thought that maybe that was how it supposed to be.
Naturally, after churning and refreezing the bowl multiple times, the ice cream still never froze.
The next time, I planned making ice cream well ahead of the time. I froze the bowl a week before (so that I wouldn’t forget). When I took out the bowl from the freezer, it was so cold that my fingers were bitten just by holding it. The bowl was definitely frozen, 700%. I steeped the tea one day in advance and kept it refrigerated, so that all liquid was completely chilled. There was no way to fail.
But I somehow managed to bungle at this easiest task … I set the bowl onto the machine, inserted the mixing paddle, and put the transparent plastic lid which locks to the base. Then I poured the liquid into the frozen bowl, which I was supposed to do, but one essential thing: like any electrical machine, you have to turn it on. I forgot to, but only for seconds. Shouldn’t be an issue, right?
You can’t imagine what happened. The poured liquid was flash frozen. In seconds, it created an earl grey flavored skating rink layer inside and around the perimeter of the bowl. By the time I turned on the machine, the mixing paddle was stuck and wouldn’t budge anymore. So I dumped the whole mixture back into the mixing bowl and had to scrape off the frozen layer, which was nice, since it brought back memories of winters in Kansas, but which was also extremely annoying and painful. My hands and fingers were freezing while I was sweating everywhere else. I had to recruit additional man power, and yet it still took about half an hour to scrape it all out without damaging the lining. After that, since the bowl was still beyond frozen, it made the ice cream, no problem. In spite of these awfully embarrassing mistakes I made, I’m enjoying making my own ice cream and creating my own flavors. My next attempt: plum sorbet.
Recipe of the Day - Earl Grey Lavender Ice Cream
This recipe requires prepping in a day before and also an ice cream maker.
Ingredients (makes about 1 quart):
3 tsp earl grey tea leaves
1 tsp dried lavender flowers
*Tea infuser or disposal tea bag for steeping
1c. 2% milk
2c. heavy whipping cream
Freeze the ice cream maker bowl. In a sauce pot, pour 1 cup of milk. Bring it to boil and turn off the heat. Add tea leaves and lavender flowers using a tea infuser or disposal tea bags and steep for about 20-30 minutes and let the milk cool down at room temperature. Once the milk has cooled to touch, remove tea bags, pour it into a jar or container that has lid/cap and chill in the fridge overnight. On the next day, prepare a large mixing bowl and a wire whisk. Measure out the sugar and heavy cream into the bowl. Add the tea infused milk and mix well. Take out the bowl from the freezer. Set the frozen bowl onto the ice cream maker and turn it on. Pour the liquid mixture into the frozen bowl and let it mix until thickened, about 20-30 minutes.