Everyone owns a kitchen gadget they rarely use, tucked away in the back of a cupboard somewhere, gathering dust. For me, it’s my ice-cream maker… since I bought it a good few years ago; I think I’ve made ice cream maybe five times. So there it sits, unloved and unused. Part of the problem being, is that it’s a cheap one (Ice cream makers fall into two camps – cheap or expensive, there is no middle ground)…I think it cost me about £30 at the time, and you have to pre-freeze the bowl for at least 24hrs before using it, which doesn’t lend itself well to spontaneous ice-cream action.
About a year ago, realising that this was the stumbling block to the creative process – I moved the bowl out of the cupboard to a permanent home in the freezer…yes it took up a lot of space, but if I wanted to make ice-cream it was there ready and waiting to take up the challenge instantly…and then there, inevitably it’s sat for about a year, waiting. …Silently in the dark.
Until just the other day a conversation on Twitter about ice cream makers had me opening the freezer and dragging my unused ice-cream maker towards the light. I’d boldly declared publicly that yes, I shall make ice cream, immediately and not only that, I was going to make salted butter caramel flavour. I’d found a recipe online (Here) I was all set, raring to go,
‘Immediately’ in reality, became the next day…up at the crack of dawn I made my way down the local shop to buy the ingredients needed. It cost me about £5. The thought did cross my furrowed brow that, I could have bought some decent ice cream for the same price and saved myself the effort. But where’s the fun in that? And in any case, mine would be ‘handmade artisan ice cream’ in a flavour that is almost impossible to buy commercially. It would have no nasty chemicals or additives in it. It was worth the cost.
The recipe states that the ice-cream needs 8 hours refrigeration, so I thought I better get started early if I wanted to actually sample some the same day.
First of all, I made the salted praline…heating the sugar carefully in a saucepan, (Caramel, despite looking extremely benign and inviting… just begging for you to stick a digit it for a cheeky sample is actually frigging hotter than the surface of the Sun, and as such; it deserves respect).
It was all going so well, and then I noticed a foreign object in the saucepan…something white…. Had I washed the pan up properly from its last use? And then I realised what it was.
The ‘heatproof’ rubber spatula I was using, to stir the caramel was anything but…. and it had started to melt. Realising immediately that salted rubber butter caramel flavour was perhaps a bit too avant-garde for even the most adventurous gourmet, I decided to bin the lot. I was flustered, it was boiling hot…. I decided to tip the molten caramel onto some greaseproof paper first, and in the process burnt my finger…just a little bit, but enough to make me scream like a girl.
Five minutes later, wiping the tears away from my face, and scornfully washing up the saucepan, I was ready for another attempt.
This time it went exactly to plan, and I soon had a sheet of hardened Praline to break up and scatter into the finished ice cream.
Everything else with the recipe went smoothly, without incident and in no time I had beautiful mocha coloured custard to refrigerate for 8 hours, ready for churning.
Later that day, out it came and in it went to the ice-cream machine, which was already on and churning away (learning my lesson here from a previous abortive attempt long ago, where I’d poured the mixture into a machine that wasn’t running – and it had instantly frozen rock solid, making it un-churnable).
30 mins later, it looked about right – I stirred in the broken shards of praline (which according to the recipe, melt and become ‘gooey’….errr….yum!). And, back in the freezer it went for 3 hours to set fully.
What a time-consuming operation making ice cream is!
But, I guess the question is, was it worth it?
This afternoon, I opened the container and scooped up a beautiful looking shiny ball of creamy coffee coloured ice cream, speckled through with melted, soft specks of praline. I stuck my spoon in for a taste, and oh my God…. it was incredible, rich smooth and intense caramel flavour underpinned by a subtle lip smacking salt tang. Seriously beautiful stuff. Definitely not something you could eat much of in one sitting, it being very rich – but wow. So yes. It’s very much worth the time and effort involved.
If you fancy having a go at this yourself, you can find the recipe I used here on David Lebovitz’s website.