Since my last few posts have revolved around ice cream I thought I'd share a little history and science behind this great invention.
The first appearance of ice cream dated back as far as the 13th century in the Arab world and eventually made its way to Italy and the term ice cream was first used in the early 17th century. It was the French that discovered that frequent stirring of the freezing mix gave a finer, less crystalline texture which paved way for America to give birth to the ice cream makers we are so familiar with today. **
Plain frozen cream is hard as rock, so what makes the ice cream so different? Ice cream contains several ingredients and elements that help it reach its creamy semi-solid end point. Sugar added to the ice cream lowers the freezing point (as the dissolved sugar molecule gets in the way of the water molecules that try to settle into ordered crystals) which means sweetened cream freezes at much colder temperatures than water and therefore will prevent that frozen solid state.
Ice Cream consist of 3 basic elements: ice crystals, concentrated cream, and air.
Ice crystals form due to the water particles freezing as it is mixed and gives the ice cream its solidity
Concentrated cream is what is left of the mix when the ice crystals form, with the help of sugar and its ability to lower the freezing point, about 1/5 of the water is never frozen and therefore creates a thick fluid that contains approx equal portion liquid water, milk fat, milk proteins, and sugar that acts like a glue that holds the ice crystals together but not too strongly
Air is introduced during mixing and they interrupt and weaken the matrix of ice crystals and cream making it lighter and easier to bite into.**
** referenced from Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen.
This recipe is another great one from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by the folks at Bi-Rite Creamery. My parents went cherry picking at a friend's house and came back with HUGE bags of delicious red cherries. I <3 cherries! I can eat them forever. They make a great snack, a little sweet along with a little tart. Now since we had plenty to spare, I thought it would be great opportunity to explore another ice cream recipe, Cherry Almond Ice Cream.
I love the aroma of roasted almonds, mouth watering! Now this recipe calls for whole raw almonds to be roasted and then food process into almond meal...and once again as the inner lazy surfaced, I didn't feel like having to clean another piece of equipment so what is a lazy person to do? Thank you Trader Joe's! Their almond meal, which is courser than say Bob's Red Mill almond meal, was the perfect consistency the recipe had called for, so instead of roasting whole almonds, I tossed the course almond meal onto a shallow pan and roasted that instead. That was a long shot but I figured it'll probably work...luckily it did! Yes! Another lazy conquest!
Cherry Almond Ice Cream by Bi-Rite Creamery, recipe has been paraphrased
Makes approx 1 quart
**requires ice cream maker
***commentary/tips given in orange
- 3/4 cup whole raw almonds (or a little less than 3/4 cup of almond meal)
- 2 cup of heavy cream
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 1/4 cup of water (this seems to be a bit too much liquid for such a small batch of cherries....will cut back to maybe 1 1/2 cup of water)
- 1 1/2 cup sugar (personally also too much, maybe 3/4 cup sugar)
- 2 cups cherries
- Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a low simmer, add cherries, and cook until cherries are soft, approx 5 mins
- Remove from heat and let cherries cool completely. May be made a day in advance, transfer cherries in the syrup in a sealed container until ready to churn the ice cream.
- Once cooled, drain the cherries (save syrup for other uses)and squeeze the pits out of the fruit. Chop the cherries into 1/4-inch pieces. Refrigerate until ready to churn.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spread almonds on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and smell nutty, approx 15 minutes (or with almond meal, stir the meal every 5 minutes so that it gets evenly roasted for 15 minutes, stirring will prevent the meal from getting burnt in the oven)
- Let cool completely and then combine with 3/4 cup of sugar into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground (about the consistency of sand). Do not over process of the mixture will become oily and pasty.
- Transfer almond mixture into saucepan and stir in cream, milk, and salt.
- Heat almond cream mixture over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble along the edges of the pan, remove from heat and cover the pan. Let steep for about 20 minutes or until distinct almond flavors has infused into the mixture (taste to monitor -->yum!)
- In a heat proof bowl, whisk yolk to break them up, set aside.
- Heat almond cream mixture back up to a bare simmer then carefully scoop out 1/2 cup of the cream mix and while whisking the eggs constantly, add cream to bowl with yolks. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of cream.
- Back to the saucepan with the cream mix, while stirring the cream mix, slowly pour the egg-cream mix back into the saucepan.
- Cook over med-high heat, stirring constantly, until thickens. Approx 1-2 more minutes.
- Take the thick cream and strain it through a fine mesh into a clean container. Then place container in an ice water bath to help cool it down, stirring occassionally. Once completely cooled, remove from bath, cover and refrigerated for 2 hours or overnight.
- Finish by pouring into ice cream maker and freeze via instructions given by your ice cream maker. I churned it for about 25-30 minutes.
- Chill your ice cream storage container in the freezer during churning.
- Add chopped cherries in the last minute or so of churning OR fold them in by hand after transferring the ice cream to the chiller container