Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homemade ice cream!
the possibilities are almost endless. almost.

When I was 15, I obtained my first job working at a local ice cream shop. This job was, incidentally, procured immediately after I made my decision to go vegan. This made my  job very interesting, and provided me none of the perks that one would typically expect of working so closely with the darling frozen confection. Nonetheless, I learned discipline FAST. I also learned how to scoop large quantities of rock-solid hard ice cream into sugar cones like it was nothing at all. And my waffle cones adorned with sprinkles and chocolate? I was so good at making those! All of this being shared, I feel like ice cream and I go way back. I might even vote for it in the 2012 election. 

I was vegan for quite some time before I discovered that there were ice cream substitutes suitable for people with lifestyles like mine. This was very exciting. Ever since then, the world of vegan ice cream has only been advancing. The stuff I used to devour tastes like cold newspaper to me now. Tastes evolve! Mine has me now preferring coconut-based ice cream over most anything else. And why not cut out the middle human and make it yourself?

One of the most fun parts to making ice cream yourself is that you can make any kind you want. Simple or elaborate. Traditional or experimental. The recipe here is for a chocolate peanut butter newman-o variety. 

You will need:

1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 newman-os
1/3 cup peanut butter
an additional 2 tablespoons of agave nectar

You will also need an ice cream maker. This is the big investment of the whole make-ice-cream-yourself operation. However, if you eat a lot of ice cream, sit down with a calculator and a pad of paper. Add up your projected ice cream expenses for the calendar year. From here, you will probably come to realize how economical it is to just start making your own! You know a lot about ice cream, after all. You've been eating it for years! Don't let anyone dictate your flavor choices! Yeah, that's right! You're getting all defensive and pumped up now! Also, remember that if you have a pal you can go in on the machine with, it will be that much cheaper. The one we have is around $50, give or take. Shop around, go with what you feel is right!

The ice cream maker we use and that I recommend doesn't use ice cubes. It comes with a mixer bowl that is lined with some mystery freezy stuff. I understand that "mystery freezy stuff" easily describes water, which it could very well be. Anyways, all that is required is for the mixer bowl to be frozen completely before you make up a batch. The perks of this is that you can just keep re-using it! The set-backs?: It can only be used for one ice cream cycle in a given period of time, as the bowl is thawed quite a bit by the end of a batch. The solution? If you are so much of an ice cream fiend that this is unacceptable, buy two machines! Heck, buy three! And while you're buying your fourth, see about getting a new freezer, too. That ice cream has to have somewhere to live!

As always, to give credit where credit is duly due, I learned of making ice cream in this way from my ultimate bff Alan. I was visiting him in Baltimore last summer when he blew my mind by showing me how incredible it is to make your own ice cream from such a few simple ingredients. And Baltimore+summer+ice cream? Surely the best. When I returned home, I was sunburnt from having seen the light. And from being in that light without proper sunscreen provisions. I understood I had to buy an ice cream maker immediately. Cheryl and I wasted little to no time, and we've been happier people ever since.

So, open up your can of coconut milk. The machine I have is big enough to make double this recipe, so if you're feeling into it, double up all the ingredients and make a bigger stash! Mix the coconut milk, vanilla, and agave in a bowl. Whisk it around! Add in your cocoa power, and whisk that until it is all smooth. Add extra of anything that you feel needs to be added to. Taste the mix, see if you'd prefer it to be a little sweeter or a little more chocolate-y. As always, do what you want! Freedom!

When you have your coconut base all mixed up, bring your ice cream maker bowl out from the freezer and dock it onto the ice cream maker. Put the mixer in and the top on, and turn that thing on! Pour in the ice cream base. 

If you have any lamps nearby, or lights beaming into the machine, turn them off for the process. It needs to get good and cold as it churns, and I've found that 100 watt light bulbs can be counterproductive when they're just streaming into your ice cream.

I didn't time this, and I never do. I just keep coming back to the machine periodically to see where it's at. In the beginning it will appear thin, and it will slowly get to be thicker. You will see it pass through looking like a fairly thick milkshake,  until it is thick and full-fledged ice cream, sticking to the mixer. 

While your ice cream is churning, work on some other things. On the stovetop, heat up your peanut butter with the additional 2 tablespoons of agave. Don't let it burn, and stir it constantly. Once it is heated up and somewhat runny, turn off the heat. Save it for later.

Cut up your 6 newman-os! Even add more if you want! Make them pretty small so that they don't get stuck in your ice cream maker's mixer.

When your mixer is looking like it's almost ready to be ice cream, add in those newman-os. Let them get mixed up for a few minutes, as the ice cream progresses further. When it looks like it has gone as far as it can, turn off the machine. Empty all the ice cream into a bowl with the aid of a rubber spatula, scraping the sides down. 

Take your peanut butter/agave mixture, and fold it into the ice cream. In order to maintain a peanut butter swirl, be careful not to mix it too thoroughly. Just give it a few fold-overs, and then leave it alone. 

Scoop it into your freezer container of choice, and stick it in your freezer. I have been known to just eat it then and there, at that stage of done-ness, but if you are after a less soft-servy ice cream, it will need to spend some time freezing. Give it a few hours, and then dig in. Last summer I made a double batch of vanilla the night before for a breakfast feast for our traveling pallies. In the morning I made a huge stack of pancakes, and then got out the ice cream to be piled on top! See? The addition of an ice cream maker to your home can only improve your host abilities three-fold.

When you're ready for it, take it out and treat it as you would treat any ice cream: with simultaneous compassion and ferocity. 

Making ice cream at home is sort of an art. Experiment with both flavors and times. My personal favorite flavors I've made are: peppermint chocolate (add mint extract and chopped up candy canes and chocolate chips!), whiskey swirl (make a reduction syrup out of whiskey and agave, fold it in an already whiskey-ed up ice cream!), raspberry chocolate (add raspberries! add chocolate!), and maple walnut. (use maple syrup as your only sweetener, and add chopped up walnuts!)

Aren't you excited by all these creative options that are suddenly before you? Are you ready to stop being a slave to the supermarket freezer and finally start living? Are you suspicious that I am working on commission for Cuisinart, hoping you will buy their beauty of an ice cream maker after this lengthy pitch? 

I can only hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Excuse me, I am new in town. Could you direct me to somewhere I could find pictures of books and bangs?