Although I did buy an ice cream maker once upon a time. It was in a moment that began with me saying to Barrett, “I just need to run into Target for five minutes to get beach towels,” and ended with me saying, “I’ll use it, I swear!” as I piled the unreasonably large two-gallon baby blue ice cream maker into the backseat of our car. It’s lived in the darkness of our kitchen cupboard for four years now, surrounded by icing pipers and fancy pear slicers and dozens of other cooking supplies I’ll probably never use.
Recently, though, as I set the menu for our bi-monthly Settlers of Catan game night with friends, I decided to pull it out, wipe the dust from its corners, and give it a go. I’d frozen the container for twenty-four hours in compliance with the maker’s directions. I’d chilled the milk and mint mixture just like the recipe instructed. What I hadn’t done, however, was make sure my neglected Baby Blue Impulse Buy came with all of the requisite parts in the box it had yet to be unpacked from. It didn’t. And it turns out churning ice cream without a churning paddle attachment is damn near impossible.
A couple weeks and one new ice cream maker later (sorry, Baby Blue), I was ready to try again. My fear of churned ice cream will not win, I told myself. I will persevere and somehow become Master of Ice Cream Making. Or at the very least, someone who has successfully created at least one creamy homemade ice cream. So for the next game night, we settled on Pistachio Ice Cream. It’s the favorite flavor of two out of four of our Catan players and seemed relatively simple. Again, freeze the container overnight, swirl together various milks, spoon in flavoring and nuts. I scooped it into bronze bowls, setting one next to each player’s pile of wood, wheat, ore, and brick cards, eager to share my first ice cream masterpiece with the group. Sharp shards of ice crunched between our teeth with each bite. Our friends nodded politely, said it was great, but I knew. This wasn’t it. My maker wasn’t ready to go back into hiding yet.
One night, a few weeks later, as my husband and I were watching Naked and Afraid (best show on television, am I right?), I turned to him and said, “You know what would be an amazing combination? Black garlic and Oreos.”
“Uh, yeah,” he said in response. His voice went up at the end. You know, like how you do when you’re trying to be supportive of someone but deep down you’re thinking they’re batshit crazy. Yeah, like that.
“I know it sounds weird,” I continued on, unaffected, “But those toasty roasted coffee notes in the black garlic, the fatty cream and crispy chocolate of the Oreos. I actually think they sound like a match made in heaven.” He nodded indifferently. “I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it in ice cream.”
And so, I went on an expedition of sorts. Committed to finding the very best method of creating creamy ice cream to bring this random ingredient pairing that had so kindly found its way into my strange little head to life. And somewhere in the rabbit hole of researching ice cream technique, I was lucky enough to stumble across this ice cream base recipe, which builds on a classic custard and makes an ice cream that is luscious and rich and tastes like frosty pillows of payback for all of my other failed attempts.
I’ve fed this ice cream, the one that made my husband look at me like I was Medusa, to about a dozen people now. Sometimes I tell them what gives it that gorgeous caramel color and the soft toasty notes of warm roasted coffee beforehand; sometimes I don’t. I wait until they’ve spooned a few bites into their mouths with a good dose of cookie crumbled on top before I lay it on them. But the end result is always the same. Oohs and ahhhs and awe when they learn of the secret savory ingredient that gives this ice cream its punch is actually a weird little fermented allium.
As for me, I’m not putting away that ice cream maker any time soon. Summer is fast approaching and my impulse-buy-turned-nut-that-won’t-crack has unexpectedly become a strange sort of passion. There is more churning ahead. And these ice creams are at the top of my list to try:
- Liz’s Chocolate Stout Ice Cream
- Jessie’s Matcha Mint Chocolate Chip – (Side note: This is actually the very first ice cream I tried, you know, back when I discovered mid-process that my ice cream maker didn’t have a churning paddle. Needless to say, it didn’t freeze due to user/mechanical error but I can’t get the amazing flavors out of my head. Will try again very soon, Jessie!)
- David’s Roasted Strawberry Miso Ice Cream
- Cynthia’s Olive Oil Ice Cream (Sundaes)
- Sam’s Mascarpone Ice Cream with Bittersweet Chocolate
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1-1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt or ½ teaspoon of regular table or sea salt
- 12 large egg yolks
- 4-8 cloves of black garlic, peeled
- Oreo or Newman O cookies, for serving
- Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Mine calls to freeze the bowl 24 hours in advance.
- Add cream, milk, sugar, and salt to a large pot and simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk yolks together and then slowly integrate about ⅓ of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, continuing to whisk as you add. Then pour the yolk-cream mixture back into the pot where the remaining ⅔ of the cream mixture is and whisk again to incorporate. Ideally, the cream will not be so hot that the eggs scramble, but if they do a little, don't worry too much as you'll strain it out at the end.
- Add the black garlic, starting with 4 cloves, blending well with an immersion blender or countertop blender until garlic is well incorporated. You may still see some flecks of black garlic, that is fine, but make sure the clumps are broken up. Taste test the mixture, keeping in mind the flavors will mellow slightly as the mixture freezes. At this point you can add more cloves (I would not add more than 8-10) or you can leave it as is. I like mine with about 6-7 cloves, but it really is up to your taste preferences.
- Heat the pot with the cream-egg-garlic mixture over medium-low heat and cook until the mixture is enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
- Once thickened, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and into a large bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Pour chilled mixture into the frozen bowl of your ice cream maker, churn according to manufacturer directions. My ice cream maker called to churn for 20-25 minutes; I found that somewhere in the middle -- 22 minutes -- was ideal, creating a soft serve texture without the mixture freezing solid against the walls of the bowl.
- At this point, you can either eat the ice cream as soft serve or you can pour into a large 2-quart container such as a loaf pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
- Remove ice cream from freezer 10 minutes before ready to serve to soften. Scoop into bowls and top each with 1-2 Oreo (or Newman O) cookies, crumbled or whole for scooping.