Category Archives: ice creams and sorbets

I scream, you scream

About three years ago, Anne and I drove down to LA to visit my friends Justin and Brian in their new Westwood condo. Although we arrived after midnight, they were still wide awake, drinking cosmopolitans and waiting for a batch of ice cream. “Huh?” we said. Justin had just purchased a Cuisinart ice cream maker from Costco so that he could tinker with some of Daniel Boulud’s gelato recipes he read in Elle Decor. The rest of the weekend was spent eating homemade ice cream and drinking cosmopolitans, flirtinis, mimosas, sangria and I don’t remember what else. I think a Ghost of the Robot (don’t ask) show might have been involved.

As soon as we returned to the Bay Area, I hauled myself straight over to Costco and purchased the same ice cream maker. That summer, I turned out many, many different kinds of ice creams and sorbets – chocolate, vanilla, coffee, caramel, orange, chocolate chip, rocky road, strawberry, peach, nectarine, mascarpone, raspberry sorbet, lemon, corn, and even blue cheese. It even got to the point where I purchased a second bowl so I wouldn’t have to wait as long for the first bowl to freeze (it takes about 24 hours)

Nowadays, my ice creams are pretty tame – vanilla, chocolate or raspberry sorbet. I’m usually looking for instant gratification. Okay, two hour gratification. But with all the sour cherries I’d been pitting, I’d been thinking about making noyau ice cream. Noyau is the pale white kernel inside cherries and apricots. You smash the pit with a mallet or use a nutcracker to extract it. Watch out for flying bits of shell. They’re razor sharp, so be sure pick them up off the ground. The kernel imparts a bitter almond flavor, and is the primary flavoring agent for amaretto. In addition, Justin loves almonds, especially almond ice cream, but unfortunately, he’s allergic to them. Noyau ice cream just might be an acceptable substitute. An extremely important note about noyau: surrounding the kernel is an cyanide-like enzyme. Roasting the kernels for about 15 minutes in the oven neutralizes the enzyme. While you probably won’t drop dead if you consume a little bit of raw noyau, it’s generally a good idea roast the kernels first. After I extracted and roasted mine, I ground them into a powder with a mortar and pestle, then heated them with the cream and sugar, and allowed them to steep for about half an hour before adding and tempering the egg yolks. You can use the kernels to flavor any basic ice cream recipe – use about 20 apricot pits or 40 cherry pits for every three cups of cream/milk. It goes especially well with a tart or pie made with the fruit you’ve just pitted. I’m having mine with an apricot galette.

reminds me of…shortcakes

homemade buttermilk ice cream!

Last year, a friend and I played hookie and made ice cream (that is what foodies do when they play hookie, I guess). I had collected, in anticipation of our (pre-planned) sick day, a slew of ice cream recipes: honey and lavender ice cream, french vanilla, maple walnut ice cream, and buttermilk ice cream, just to name a few. I rattled them the list off absentmindedly. “Buttermilk!” she clapped her hands.

So buttermilk ice cream it was. It was an adventure, having never made ice cream before. We didn’t realize the custard needed a 2 hour chilling and so we sat “idly” as it chilled. (Otherwise we would have planned a SECOND food item!) Um, and we thought the custard had to be near solid before putting it in the ice cream maker, so we stuck the custard in the freezer (not an advisable move, by the way).

And we ran the ice cream maker for an hour and a half, about three times too long, until the ice cream was hardened along the sides of the bowl. I didn’t realize at the time that all I had to was run the ice cream maker for about 30 minutes until it was a creamy slush, then allow it to harden in the freezer. That’s how I got a scratch on the inside of my ice cream maker bowl, running a metal spoon, trying to chisel the ice cream out!

But nonetheless, the tangy buttermilk ice cream was delicious. Nothing beats fresh ice cream.

I made a few more batches of ice cream–I tried out the honey lavender recipe. I’ll decrease the honey and increase the lavender next time. It was still delicious. But the ice cream maker has been at rest since last summer–and in an act of questionable intelligence, the thought of making ice cream did not occur to me until today. I mean, there’s been a heat wave, what other perfect food is there?

I collected my ice cream recipes again. Rose petal ice cream fascinated me. And so did blueberry ice cream. But again, buttermilk ice cream beckoned–maybe I’m just really lucky to have found the perfect ice cream flavor on my first try.

This time, I chilled the custard in the refrigerator not the freezer, and I let the ice cream maker run for a proper amount of time, 30 minutes. And after some subsequent chilling in the freezer, served it with strawberries and blueberries. The buttermilk in the ice cream is such a classic flavor pairing with the berries–like strawberry shortcakes! Except with the surprising cold creamy texture of ice cream alongside the fruit, instead of cake.

Try it, you’ll love it too.

from Bon App├ętit
1 cup whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold buttermilk

Bring whipping cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens slightly, about 6 minutes (do not boil). Strain into bowl. Stir in 1 cup cold buttermilk. Refrigerate custard until cold, about 2 hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Can be prepared up to 5 days ahead. Freeze in covered container.)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.