Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adventures in ice cream making

Note to self: do not make frozen custard before morning coffee.

Addendum to note: do not attempt to make a very persnickety food for the very first time ever before morning coffee. Ever.

It started with the very best of intentions. (Doesn't it always?) I had some rhubarb pulp left and a handful of strawberries and a new ice cream maker just begging for some play. And Mark Bittman made custard-based ice cream sound so very straightforward. What could go wrong?

If my life were a movie, this is the scene where you'd hear ominous music begin to play in the background. Like when the nubile blonde says to her friends, "I'll catch up with you guys later" in an 80s horror flick. You know it's a very bad idea.

Maybe it wouldn't have gone so wrong if I hadn't taken that extra step of trying to combine roles? Culinary goddess, thrifty domestic manager, and doting parent. You see...the frozen custard called for six egg yolks, and I didn't want to waste six perfectly good egg whites. Especially free-range egg whites approved by Whole Foods (that assuager of vague well-heeled carnivorous guilt). Oh, and I have this very finicky child who rejects most breakfast foods and eats only egg whites, no yolks. (Do you see where this is headed?)

So I decide that the very best usage of our resources is to make frozen custard before breakfast. On a school day.

Was it a surprise that this ended in tears? (Was it a surprise that in the next scene, the blonde is stumbling through a dark woods, screaming her nubile lungs out? It's really amazing how many horror movie suburbias have vast expanses of woods. Super convenient.) Anyway. Back to the custard slaughter...a pot of frothy, curdled custard-wannabe poured down the sink and many muffled curses at Mark Bittman for failing to note that custard must be cooked at a very low temperature. Very low. And that one must not beat the milk into the eggs too vigorously.

So. Take two.

It looks like liquid cat food for your senior kitties, right? Tuna custard for your toothless felines?

Our new $24 retired-model Cuisinart purchased at Costco did not make ice cream. It made...sludge. Product-of-blood-sweat-and-tears sludge. Plus strawberry rhubarb has an odd fleshy color that isn't super attractive, especially when it's not a nicely shaped mound of ice cream.

(It did taste good and was an excellent use of leftover rhubarb syrup pulp.) Oh well. Adventures in ice cream making, take two, is coming soon.


  1. well, if it is any consolation, i bought the $300 cuisinart ice cream maker and it was such a waste of my money i returned it--one year later--to a store i didn't even buy it from and suffered no guilty conscience from it because it was just such a heaping waste of money! it only froze the bottom inch in the canister.

    i wish i could make homemade ice cream but i just make slushie/sludge.

  2. Oh dear - the color is definitely a bit tuna skewed. Glad to hear it tasted good anyway. Were both the bowl & the custard chilled before you started them in the machine? BFF makes the most wonderful ice cream with the cheapy machine she bought at the evil empire(Walmart,) but the trick with any ice cream machine is a super chilled bowl & a chilled custard to start.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience, Deva. Because the first thing I did post-disaster was research more expensive (and by more expensive, I mean vastly more expensive) machines. So good to know they can suffer from the same flaws.

    Lax, I chilled the custard for several hours, and the ice cream machine bowl had been in the freezer for days. It's a mystery. Next time, I'm going to try the simplest recipe from Cuisinart to see if it makes a difference. I hope I can figure out how to make this work because I had a whole slew of really cool ice cream ideas.


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