Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Signature Ice Cream, and some other musings...

Sundae for a sunny day.
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted,
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in fragments no longer.
Only connect...

from Howard's End by E.M. Forster

I read Howard's End a few years ago, and this was my favorite quote that has stuck with me ever since. I believe that connection is the essence of what we are searching for in this crazy thing called human life. When we interact with people, animals, objects, and technology, we can either choose to connect or not. In order to connect, your mind must be fully present. Distraction is one of the many things causing fragmentation in our lives. When you are talking to a person, perhaps someone you really care about, but you are also checking your iPhone, you are not truly connecting to either thing, for your concentration is fragmented. Only connect!

What does this have to do with food? Well, for starters, I am blogging about my food, which is a means of connecting with people who are not physically present to experience the food. By putting my words and my food (and, thereby, some might say my love) into cyberspace, I create an opportunity for others to share and connect. Ideally, however, food is a way for me to connect with people in the "real" world. Nothing is more satisfying to me than sharing something that I have made with my own two hands (and possibly my blood, sweat and tears) with people I care about. When someone takes a bite of one of my chocolate chip cookies and tells me how amazing it is, I'm on cloud 9. I'm happy because something that I made has brought happiness to someone else, even if momentarily. To me, this is true connection.

Churning the goodness.
And thus, I will share with you one of my favorite creations so far. Vanilla ice cream with a peanut butter-honey swirl. I hatched the idea earlier this week when I was munching on my snack of peanut butter and local raw wildflower honey on saltines. It may sound like a boring snack, but I was seriously loving it (it was all about the honey, which might be the best ever). After making ice cream last week, I felt inspired to make more, and so I thought about an ice cream with a peanut butter-honey swirl. I went to my The Perfect Scoop book for the vanilla ice cream recipe, and looked online for a peanut butter swirl recipe, but what I did not find anything. I found a recipe for a peanut butter maple almond swirl, so I used the basic measurements from that to do it my way.

The end result is fantastic. I knew the ice cream would be creamy because the custard base was nice and thick. When I was in college, I developed a terrible habit of eating vanilla ice cream with a spoonful of peanut butter that I would stir in by hand. Thanks to my handy-dandy ice cream maker, that will no longer be necessary, for I have created an ice cream based on that old, cherished ritual. The smooth vanilla ice cream and the creamy peanut butter swirl taste absolutely wonderful together. This, my friends, is going down as my signature ice cream.

So yummy.
Vanilla Ice Cream
minorly adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 lrg egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, and let cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Note: I omitted the originally called-for 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, because I did not want an overpowering vanilla flavor that would compete with the peanut butter swirl.

Peanut Butter-Honey Swirl

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp good quality honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Stir together the ingredients until smooth and of uniform consistency. Drizzle into the ice cream just before the end of the churning process. Churn until just swirly, not overly mixed.

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