So, it's finally arrived! the fantastic, super-charged, all singing, all dancing ICE CREAM MACHINE. I have wanted one of these for so long but have always been put off by lack of freezer space/cupboard room/cost/practicality etc. But, after countless icy, rock hard home made ice cream disasters I finally realised I had a big enough freezer and cupboard space and grabbed this bargainous little beauty.
As you can see in reality it's really rather modest and low tech. The main bowl needs to go into the freezer at least 24 hours before you want to make your ice cream. Then, clip the motor to the lid, attach the paddle and get churning. The main advantage of using an ice cream machine is that the mixture is constantly kept on the move as it's starting to freeze. This stops the big ice crystals forming and keeps the texture nice and smooth. After churning the mixture will still probably be a little it too soft so it's worth putting it into an air tight container and leaving in the freezer for another couple of hours. As with all ice creams it tastes better freshly made but my efforts so far have kept pretty well in the freezer (not that they've lasted too long!)
My first attempt came from the fabulous Ben and Jerry's ice cream book. I found this while browsing at the library and it's a great introduction. I'm a bit of a Ben and Jerry's fan and this book is full of some of their most famous recipes (although not Chubby Hubby, my favourite and sadly now extinct in the UK) as well as being written with their trademark sense of humour. It's also a good starting place as none of their three basic ice cream bases require fancy ingredients, they don't need any cooking and can easily be halved. This is a real bonus when so many recipes seem to start with double boilers, six egg yolks and sieving home made custard.
The first flavour to try was Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, chosen by the Ewing. ANY coffee ice cream seems in short supply, let alone a decent one. (Apparently this is one of B&J's best sellers in the US but I've never seen it over here, they've also pulled the delicious Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz from the shelves, leaving caffeinated ice cream addicts hankering after their next fix.) I halved the basic sweet cream recipe to make one pint and in the absence of Heath bars I used Daim instead. Apart from one scary moment when the paddle started to spin the opposite way and coated the wall with mixture this was incredibly easy to make and, more importantly, very tasty too. The measurements are all in US cups, so if you haven't already, it's worth getting a set as it keeps things nice and simple.
Coffee Heath Bar Crunch
Makes 1 Quart (can easily be halved)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Double Cream
1 Cup Milk (I used Skimmed)
3 Tbsp Instant Coffee (or very strong espresso)
4 Heath/Daim Bars
Chop chocolate bars into small pieces and put in the freezer.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and frothy, approx 1-2 minutes.
Slowly add sugar to the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly for another 2-3 minutes.
Add milk, cream and coffee and give a final whisk to combine.
Place mixture in fridge to chill.
Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
Just before the mixture reaches the desired consistency stir in the frozen chocolate pieces.
Serve immediately or transfer to a container and place in the freezer to firm up further.
With all the anticipation and excitement I was preparing for this to fall short of my expectations- but I'm very happy to report it was completely delicious. The ice cream was rich and creamy, but with a real coffee hit and some added crunch for interest. Next time I plan to try some dark chocolate chunks, and maybe a little shot of Kahlua, as the Daim Bar is quite sweet and I'd like something a little more bitter to compliment the coffee flavour.