Since last summer, I've become a
fanatical keen home ice cream maker.
What originally inspired me to get started was eating home made ice cream as made by S, which she usually serves whenever I have Shabbos lunch there. Delicious..but the downside which held me back from having a go was her description of the amount of hand whisking she had to do to get the consistency good enough. Couldn't see myself having the time or patience for that long in action with a whisk...even an electric whisk. Plus the hassle of having to get it out of the fridge at the right time and re-beat.
Yes, well, I knew about ice cream machines, but my take on it was-- there are machines costing about £25 and machines costing £250. Seemed to stand to reason it was only the £250 jobs would do the business, otherwise why would anyone pay £250 when they could get an effective machine for £25?
But that was before the summer, when I was buying various household equipment for my about-to-be-married daughter and future son in law and Amazon were doing 25% and more off a good proportion of their kitchen machines. I started reading the customer reviews and discovered that there were a good many customers who'd bought the ">cheapo Kenwood IM200 machine and who raved about the quality of ice cream they were making. And then there was the fact that it would potentially enable me to make ice cream that was low fat and low calorie...and I could use goats' milk and cream, because my daughter's intolerant of cow's milk, but is happy to consume goats' milk products.
The obliging customer reviews also pointed me at a couple of good ice cream making books that they recommended. So I bought a Kenwood IM200 just like the one in the picture, which was sort of free given the various 25% off offers I'd acquired by buying the machines I was already going to buy, plus these two ice cream making books, which were the most highly recommended.
It was actually not until about four months after the wedding that I actually started using the machine. I started with a non dairy low cal ice cream--coconut lime ice cream, using the recipe from this book. It turned out delicious. It's easy to make--the only remotely complex bit is cooking up some sugar and water to make a syrup and then cooling it. And my daughter and my guests love it; it tastes quite rich and creamy, and you would never guess it's quite low calorie.
I think that what really got me hooked though was the discovery that making ice cream in my machine was really like getting to do alchemy. You pour this rather unimpressive looking liquid that you've put together into your switched on machine. And watch it churn it round. After ten minutes, the stuff looks a bit thicker. After twenty minutes, perhaps a bit thicker still. And then you might turn your back and after twenty five minutes, it's suddenly transformed. It's risen up to three times the size, and it's thick and substantial and---oooh-- looks just like real posh ice cream. But it tastes much, much better than anything you'll ever buy from a shop.
Since then, I've made all these flavours, in order of impressiveness (but they've all been delicious): pineapple; banana; blueberry; coffee amaretto; raspberry; strawberry, vanilla and pomegranate. And now of course my latest, which is a recipe I worked out for myself: charoses which is very impressive and recreates the heavenly taste of the charoses that I remember from my childhood. With the same deep apple/cinnamon/almond slurp plus the rich and delicious aftertaste of a good kiddush wine. If you need an explanation of what charoses (also known as haroset, charoseth and charosis) is, see here.
Yesterday, I took some coffee amaretto parev ice cream round to J., who's sitting Shiva for her lovely mother Lily, who I wrote about here. J is an absolutely ace cook and I nearly fell over when she said to the assembled multitude, "Judy makes the best ice-cream in England." Which shows that if you do a mitzvoh, you are almost certainly to get more out of it than the person you're doing it for. But I had noticed before that whenever I've had couples round to a Shabbos meal at which I serve the ice cream, the men will suddenly go very silent as they become completely absorbed in eating it. I never realised before how many men are deep ice cream addicts. And how few people have had the wonderful experience of tasting home made ice cream. Thank you, Kenwood.
Still with me? I'm still working on variants of the charoses ice cream. Because my first experimental version was done with a Ben & Jerry style recipe. I recommend the Ben & Jerry approach, which they describe very clearly and simply in their book. You make a base custard by whisking up eggs and sugar (and you can use xylitol to lower the calorie content), then adding milk and cream; then you add a syrup based on marinating your fruit or flavour sauce with lime and more sugar, and churn what you've got. Keep some chunks of fruit to add to the last couple of minutes of churning and that's it.
But you can only use that for Pesach if you're going to eat a vegetarian or fish meal, which is what I shall do for the Seder I'm doing for first night. Which just also happens to be on my 64th birthday. And my daughter and son in law will be my guests of honour. Ah, but then I have yet to make a version with goat's milk and goat's cream, but I'm pretty confident it'll be as good as the conventional cows' dairy recipe. It led to an even better discovery. My daughter's also somewhat allergic to eggs. But she told me she'd experimented with ducks' eggs, which she turns out not to be allergic to. And they're never battery produced, and they work beautifully; you'll virtually never find a duck's egg with a bloodspot. To my surprise, all the major UK supermarkets sell them, too. So I now usually use duck eggs, in preference to the very high quality free range organic blacktail hen's eggs, which are very good, but often turn out to have bloodspots.
So then I thought of my final charoses ice cream challenge. On the second night, I'm going to G's family Seder. They're going to have a meat meal. So if I want to make them some charoses ice cream to add to their meal, what can I make it with? The soya cream I usually use for parev ice cream won't do for Pesach, as it's not kosher-for-Pesach for us Ashkenazis. Ah...but how about coconut milk? Or even coconut cream? I've been inspired by looking at this site of a US based luxury coconut ice cream maker. The problem, though, is that in England you can't get kosher-le-Pesach coconut milk.
No, I'm not going to let that defeat me. I'm going to work on a dummy run for this Erev Shabbos, using ordinary coconut milk. Once I get that right, I shall make my own coconut cream from real coconuts. And Google's found me a convincing looking recipe on how to do that without gouging myself to bits trying to get the coconut flesh out of its shell. S and P are coming round for Erev Shabbos dinner, so I'll have the most discerning taste testers you can get.
As you can see, I've got the ingredients all ready.
This is some appetising looking coconut cream that I made last night from a packet of dried coconut milk. Using fresh coconut... which will have been roasted...should be that much better. I'll be interested to see how the coconut cream marries with the taste of the traditional charoset. The dairy ice version made a brilliant blend.
Key tip: most people who make Ashkenazi traditional charoses now grate the apple into shreds. It is nothing like as good as taking the trouble to use a grater fine enough to grate it into pulp. That black tool in the photo is my Microplane rotary grater, which does a good job of doing it without my grating my skin into the pulp.
Here's the recipe --enough for 4-6, which is as much as my machine will do in one batch:
Get your bowls, whisk blades and ice cream machine dasher good and cold.
In one bowl mix:
One to two organic apples (I use Gala--go for a sweet, crisp variety) grated to pulp
One half lime juice added to the apple
90gm organic caster sugar, organic agave syrup or xylitol
Ground cinnamon to taste (go easy...)
Enough ground almonds to mix and taste like it did when you were little
Enough top quality kiddush wine (King David Sacramental or Massoret, never Kedem or cheap Palwin) to absorb into the above over two to three hours in the fridge--and only then:
In a second bowl
One egg whisked in turn with:
90 gm organic caster sugar, organic agave syrup or xylitol (added a bit at a time as you whisk)
One half cup best quality (Jersey) milk (or whole fat goats' milk or coconut milk)
1 cup (250 ml) best dairy double cream (or goats' cream or coconut cream)
(Add a teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla pod if using coconut milk & cream)
Stir the apple mix into the egg custard base. Check the taste to see if you need more wine or sweetening. It should be quite a bit sweeter than the charoses you remember as a child.
Set up the ice cream machine with the dasher turning. Pour in your mix and leave for 25-35 minutes or until you see it at least doubled in bulk, firm and scoopable. Scoop it out and pack into tubs and straight into your freezer.
Take out of the freezer and leave for 20 minutes in the fridge before serving.
And...I'm keen enough to have bought another identical Kenwood IM200 ice cream machine just for Pesach use. I told you I've become
I'd show you a movie on YouTube of the machine doing its alchemy on one of my ice creams, but guess what? Even though I've a Master's degree in IT, I can't work out how to upload it to YouTube. The YouTube upload command doesn't seem to let me point to a file on either my Macbook or my PC. And YouTube have yet to reply to my pathetic appeal for help.