holidays ice cream

A Particularly Happy St. Patrick’s Day

We’re not Irish. But neither are most of the idiots out there today getting drunk and obnoxious, so let’s go with it.

I made Irish potatoes yesterday. A lot of Irish potatoes.

They’re gone now.

I love Irish potatoes. Everyone else in this house loves Irish potatoes.

So for today’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner I put a pot roast in the crockpot and Alex made soda bread. And since we’d eaten most of the Irish potatoes by mid-afternoon, we needed dessert.

I had half a bottle of Vanilla Porter in the fridge and memories of a delicious Guinness chocolate ice cream I made once, so ice cream was the way to go.

I have David Lebovitz’s marvelous book A Perfect Scoop, and therein found his recipe for Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream.

Alas, I didn’t have Guinness or milk chocolate, and I didn’t feel like making a custard.

So I made something up, in the process providing further evidence for my theory that you can throw just about anything into an ice cream maker and it will be fabulous.

Forthwith, my Vanilla Porter-Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream. Please, try it.

  • 7½ ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 4 ounces of 72% and 3.5 ounces of 85%, because that’s what I had)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup Breckinridge Vanilla Porter (although I’m willing to bet that you can use any good beer you like)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

I melted the chocolate very slowly in one cup of half-and-half, then stirred in the sugar till it dissolved. If I do it again, I’ll dissolve the sugar first, but I wasn’t sure how much sugar I was going to need. (I added a quarter-cup at a time till it was as sweet as I wanted it to be.)

Then I whisked in the other cup of half-and-half (a bit at a time) and the beer and the vanilla. Some of the chocolate resolidified, so I strained the mixture, remelted it, and whisked it back in, but you can skip that step if you’re not as obsessive as I am; it wasn’t that much chocolate.

I refrigerated the mixture till it was cold and fired up the old ice cream maker.

So, so good. Possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever made, and certainly in the top five.

And you can do this with whatever you have. If your chocolate is sweeter, use less sugar. Use milk. Use cream. Hell, use coconut milk and your paleo sweetener of choice. If you can make a mixture with a fairly high fat content that tastes good, it will make delicious ice cream. And if you go with fruit or juice instead of cream, it will make delicious sorbet.

Get out the ice cream maker. Experiment. You won’t regret it.


Dorie ice cream

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream equals happiness, pure and simple.

It’s like anything else, I guess — making something at home that most people think can come only from a store is incredibly satisfying. But ice cream is so simple, and so quick to transform itself into heaven, that it has a special place in my heart.

So when I saw a few weeks ago that Katrina of Baking and Boys had chosen this recipe, I put it on my must-make list, which is considerably shorter now than it used to be.

And then I forgot about it.

So when I remembered at 3:30 on Friday afternoon — knowing that we’d be out Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and therefore not be able to have the ice cream then — I sprang into action. No cream; very little half-and-half. Too damned lazy to go to the store.

Wait! What’s this? Coconut milk!

Who says I’m not brilliant?

So, I made the chocolate ganache ice cream with 14 ounces of coconut milk — light coconut milk, even, because Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell the regular stuff — and 6 ounces of half-and-half. I used TJ’s dark chocolate despite my usual inclination to substitute milk, because Dorie said I should. (She was right. She’s almost always right.)

Generally when I make ice cream (which used to be a lot more frequently, of course), I make Philadelphia style: cream, sugar, something yummy; no eggs. But occasionally I’ll make a David Lebovitz blow-out; if you want to make ice cream at home, you must get his Perfect Scoop.

This recipe calls for egg yolks, but only four. Using yolks certainly makes for a creamier custard, but we’re generally happy without them. They sure were good this time, though.

Just like the last time Tuesdays With Dorie made ice cream, this stuff is marvelous. Dorie sure knows her way around an ice cream maker. What took this ice cream (can I call it ice cream if I used mostly coconut milk?) over the top is the ganache: The chocolate is chopped and melted in hot cream, and then the custard is added. Oh, yes.

Because I used coconut milk, the obvious topping was toasted coconut. Alex added cinnamon and peanuts too, and I think next time I’ll chop some macadamias and toss them in while it’s churning. Yum.

I don’t like chocolate ice cream as a rule. I don’t like chocolate cake, either; I prefer my chocolate straight. But I loved this ice cream: It’s dark and rich and creamy and amazing. Trust me. And trust my family:

Tim [the guy who gave up carbs]: I have not enjoyed ice cream this much in seven months. It was like letting a chocolate half-and-half cloud melt on my tongue.

Alex [the guy who cut way down on carbs]: I don’t like chocolate and I don’t like ice cream, but this is really good. It’s especially good with cinnamon and peanuts.

Ben [the guy who eats anything and everything]: It was good with the mix-ins, but plain I think the coconut milk overpowered the chocolate.

So give it a shot — it’s totally worth your time. You can find the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or at Baking and Boys. And a plain-jane recipe like this will inspire all kinds of variations from the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers, so check them out too.

Dorie ice cream

Tuesdays With Dorie: Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

I really wanted to make this ice cream, from the day I saw it listed as this week’s pick. I was totally going to make this. I love ice cream. I love homemade ice cream most of all.

And then I forgot.

But I made it on Tuesday, and it’s Tuesdays With Dorie, right? It’s still Tuesday. (Even if just barely.)

Because I forgot, I didn’t have any whole milk. Or cream. So I made this with one cup of half-and-half and two cups of skim milk. (I know, I know — all of you ice cream purists are screaming. I’m sorry.)

Even with so little fat, the mix was good. Really good. I could pretty happily have drunk it all.

And then I froze it, and it got better. Wow. If you haven’t made this ice cream, do it now, with whatever combination of dairy products you can come up with. We actually think we like it better with the lower fat content: It was lighter and more appropriate for a hot day like today.

The lower fat content made it softer than it might otherwise have been, and it melted fast. But we didn’t care. It was good.

And back by popular demand, family opinions!

Tim: I really liked the subtle caramel flavor, and it was perfect eating texture right out of the freezer — semisoft rather than hard. Overall, though, I thought it was a little too sweet.

Alex: I thought it was overly sweet, but enjoyed the delicate flavor. I’d eat it again if the sugar was cut somehow.

Ben: At first I thought it was too sweet. Then I decided it was really good.

And Ben, my brilliant second-born, fixed the too-sweet problem: pretzels! He suggested breaking up some pretzel rods and mixing them in, and that indeed made this absolutely perfect — one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. Yay Ben!

Thanks to Becky of Project Domestication for choosing this recipe for us this week. Go there; get the recipe; make the ice cream. Thank you, Becky. Thank you, thank you, thank you!