The guy broke my heart.
I was calling a local kitchen goods store, asking if they carried ice cream makers. I had made a batch of ice cream in my old maker, and it took so long to get cold that part of the ice cream literally turned to butter from being churned without freezing.
“No,” the guy said with a distinct sense of resignation in his voice. “Nobody asks for them anymore.”
And my heart cracked right in two. Nobody makes ice cream anymore?
Ice cream makers used to be my go-to gift for weddings. Everybody loves ice cream, right? I have it on good authority that we all even scream for it.
But apparently ice cream makers don’t sell like they used to. Perhaps we have access to too much great ice cream now.
Still, there is no ice cream like homemade ice cream.
I found an ice cream maker at another store and made a batch of salty caramel ice cream (this time without creating butter). I used the recipe from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home,” the first and best cookbook from the goddess of ice cream, Jeni Britton Bauer.
The next week, my wife happened to find herself at the local Jeni’s ice cream parlor, and she ordered the salty caramel ice cream.
Mine was better, she said. And that’s the difference between homemade and store-bought.
Whoever makes it, Jeni’s salty caramel is one of my very favorite ice creams, so I decided to make it again for this story. I also made two of my other absolute favorites: lemon lotus ice cream and superb Italian chocolate ice cream.
And if you’re one of those people who, heartbreakingly, do not have an ice cream maker, I also made a tremendously satisfying batch that does not need one. It’s called magic vanilla ice cream.
SALTY CARAMEL ICE CREAM
Yield: About 1 quart
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
11/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon plus 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
11/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Heat 2/3 cup sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stand over the pan with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a thin ring of melted and browning liquid sugar around the edge of the sugar. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color, like an old penny.
When little bubbles begin to explode, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately, but slowly, pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning hot sugar. Be careful — it will pop and spit. Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in. Do not worry if the melted sugar seizes and solidifies.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, and add the rest of the milk and the vanilla. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, give the cornstarch slurry a quick stir and gradually whisk in the slurry.
Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve. Add the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour into an ice cream maker canister, and freeze according to product instructions. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Nutrition information per serving: 275 calories, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 24 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 205 mg sodium, 100 mg calcium.
— Recipe from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home” by Jeni Britton Bauer
LEMON LOTUS ICE CREAM
Yield: 12 servings
4 lemons, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1 quart (4 cups) half-and-half
2 cups milk
Trim off and discard the ends of 1 lemon. Cut the lemon into thin slices. Remove the seeds from the slices, and cut the slices in half.
Squeeze the remaining 3 lemons, and combine the juice with the sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the lemon slices, and refrigerate, preferably overnight. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
Combine the half-and-half and milk in the canister of an ice cream maker (you may have to do this in batches). Chill thoroughly, preferably in the freezer, for 10-20 minutes. Do no allow the mixture to freeze. Skip this step if your ice cream maker has a canister with a liquid interior that freezes in the freezer.
Add the lemon and sugar mixture to the ice cream mixture, and install the canister in the ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place ice cream in an airtight container, and freeze in your freezer at least 4 hours before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 43 g carbohydrate, 39 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 95 mg sodium, 123 mg calcium.
— Adapted from “The New New York Times Cookbook” by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey
SUPERB ITALIAN CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
Yield: 21/2 quarts
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
6 egg yolks
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup strong black coffee
11/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup crème de cacao
4 cups whipping cream
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt the broken unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water. Add the milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring until all butter has been absorbed. If the butter does not melt, return pan to medium-low or medium heat before stirring and adding more butter.
Beat the yolks in a medium bowl until light and lemony colored. Gradually stir in the chocolate mixture; stir until smooth and creamy.
Heat the semisweet chocolate, coffee, sugar and light cream in the top of a double boiler over hot water, stirring constantly, until chocolate and sugar melt. Stir in the rum and crème de cacao. Cool to room temperature.
Combine the two chocolate mixtures with the whipping cream, grated unsweetened chocolate and salt. Pour into the canister of an ice cream maker (you may have to do this in batches); freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. It will not freeze as firmly as other ice creams. Place in an airtight container, and freeze in freezer at least 4 hours until relatively firm.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 20): 597 calories, 38 g fat, 23 g saturated fat, 147 mg cholesterol, 9 g protein, 58 g carbohydrate, 54 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 153 mg sodium, 210 mg calcium.
— Adapted from “Bert Greene’s Kitchen Bouquets” by Bert Greene
MAGIC VANILLA ICE CREAM
Yield: 1 quart
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce white chocolate chips
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
11/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
Microwave the milk and white chocolate in a large bowl until chocolate melts, stirring halfway, about 30 seconds. Let cool. Stir in the sour cream, vanilla and salt.
Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium speed to soft peaks. Whisk 1/3 of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into mixture until incorporated.
Place in an airtight container, and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 8): 226 calories, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 54 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 14 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 331 mg sodium, 94 mg calcium.
— Recipe from “Kitchen Hacks” by Cook’s Illustrated