I Scream, You Scream

I recently received an ice cream machine as a gift. After playing around with a loaner for a few months my results were still mixed. My first endeavor was David Lebovitz’s burnt caramel ice cream. It was Thanksgiving and I had people to impress, so I knew I had to lay my trust in a man whose recipes never fail me. Nevermind the whole never made ice cream before part. Minor detail. Turns out it was probably one of the most difficult ice cream recipes to start out with. I had to make the burnt caramel, flavor the cream, strain the cream, put it in an ice bath, mix in the caramel bits, and hope for the best.

The caramel bits were awesome. The ice cream, however, was soup. I was pretty bummed. Not one to let my efforts go to waste, I left it in my freezer in hopes that it would harden up a bit, since apparently that’s what homemade ice cream does. Next day…still soup. But the day after that…a dessert miracle! It was pretty tasty, but I wasn’t sure it was worth the work.

After all of the effort the burnt caramel took I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to try my hand at ice cream again. Fast forward a few months and I finally decided that I either needed to make some more ice cream or give back the machine and reclaim my counter space. This time I opted for a chocolate sorbet, inspired by a delicious cup from a neighborhood gelato shop. Now, I am not much of a chocolate ice cream fan, but this batch of sorbet (another David Lebovitz recipe) was amazing. As in, ‘holy balls, I can’t believe I created this’ amazing. So I thought, maybe sorbet is my thing?

Next came a coconut milk sorbet. Meh. Then strawberry basil sorbet. So-so. I skimped on the basil and the strawberry by itself just wasn’t as fun. I was losing confidence. Then, lo and behold, a mystery box arrived on my doorstep and it happened to be an ice cream machine of my very own! It was a sign. Time to roll up the sleeves and really get down to business. First there was a lime sorbet with a hint of serrano chile. So good it necessitated a second batch for a dinner party. Because making your own means you can control the sugar level, I kept it super tart, italian ice style. I tend to stay away from sorbet at ice cream shops, mostly because I like my cold desserts rich and sans any semblance of fruit, but I also happen to harbor a special fondness for tart things. Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all. Next came a revisit to the chocolate sorbet, this time with cayenne. Then it was a cookies and cream ice cream for a friend’s birthday. I didn’t actually get to try it, but word was it was a success.

Finally I decided to give another crack at something ambitious. I love a good cake flavored ice cream. Cake batter, cake chunks, whatever – the more going on, the better. I had half a birthday cake on the road to getting stale and thought heaven help me if I eat all this damn cake myself, so I might as well turn it over to its natural partner (ice cream, obviously). A cursory search revealed that most people use cake mix out of a box to flavor their cake ice cream, so I had to just wing it with the real deal. After mulling over whether to soak the cake in the milk and cream mixture, throw it in as the mixture was churning, or wait until it had thickened, I decided to add it as the ice cream was churning. It dispersed completely, so the good news was that the whole thing tasted like cake, but it did make the texture slightly grainy. I would add it towards the end next time. It was delicious, but something was missing…

A birthday cake ice cream needs sprinkles, of course! I had metallic ones, so I got my extra fancy on.

Never before have I eaten so many frozen desserts. An ice cream maker is a sweet little devil made of plastic.

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