Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whatever I Want Wednesday: Oh...So That's How You Do It. (Warning-Contains Ice Cream)

If you can't find it, make it.

For the passed 10 years, I have been slowly nurturing my need to make things from scratch. Okay, some guys fill their garage with a wall full of tools, and I hope to one day do so as well. Some guys save up for a fishing boat, or a motorcycle, or golf clubs. Me? I'm on a constant quest to have a fully stocked kitchen. Maybe I should have been watching more football instead of Good Eats. Maybe I should have paid attention to the normal things that boys usually pay attention to, rather than leaning the nuances of my mother's Sunday Gravy as I watch her put her spice rack through its paces. Maybe I should be satisfied to have my dinner prepared in a microwave. Perhaps I shouldn't care.

But I do. And it's important to me.

Last year, I received an ice cream maker from Santa because I finally admitted to myself that if I didn't have any in my freezer at any given time, I'd get really sad. Sure, there are times (like now) where there are at least two cartons in the back of the chill chest taking up valuable real estate and are getting more frost bit as the days wear on; impulse buys of flavors yet to be tried, only to be filed in the "Well, It Seemed To Be a Good Idea at the Time" Folder after a couple of scoops. I'm not knocking the Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Latte flavor.

...if there is one...

...I'm sure it is...

There's pumpkin spice everything.

Sometimes though, chocolate and vanilla are all you need.

The model I received was the Hamilton Beach 68320 1-1/2-Quart Capacity Ice Cream Maker, White. I don't know about you, but a quart and a half is just a tease. Still, it has a sturdy motor, it's easy to clean, easy to assemble/disassemble and no rock salt is required. Also, the price point is right on. Not having to invest in rock salt helps out a lot and the machine itself slides in under the $30 mark.

Now, for the downside...

It's a uni-tasker and it takes up about as much room as your average toaster. I know a bunch of people only have room for one toaster in their life, and while I'm on the subject, a toaster is a uni-tasker too. Despite what Alton Brown's pet peeves are, these are general nuisances that come with the territory of appliance buying and might be considered petty. Let's label these: "No Big Deal".

The biggest downside of this machine, as I'm sure many people who owned this can attest to, isn't in the room it takes up. It's in the end product that it produces. Now...just bear with me...

Stop me when this sounds familiar...

My first attempt at making ice cream with this thing didn't go so well. I followed the instructions the best I could, but the ice cream was more like a milk shake. No, I take that back. It was more like a protein drink. Granted, I didn't leave the mixture in the fridge for as long as I should have, so that time was my fault. Live and learn, move on and do better next time, which (despite my best efforts) didn't happen.

The second time, I left the tub in the freezer for a few weeks as opposed to the 24 hours they suggest in the instructions. I also left the mixture in the refrigerator a few days longer than recommended. The end result was a porridge. Still nowhere near ice cream...or custard for that matter.

I began to read the reviews of this model online, and the majority seem to experience the same problems I was having: the ice cream wasn't setting, the tub wasn't freezing and it was just a waste of machinery. At the time I was inclined to agree. "This thing is taking up way too much room in my freezer to not work. Did we save the receipt? Maybe someone will want it on Craigslist. Piece of junk..." and so forth.

That was at the beginning of the year, back at my old place. Well, now I'm in a new place, with a different refrigerator. Ladies and gentlemen and those unfortunate souls who purchased this machine and stuck it in your attic after 2 or 3 failed attempts, I'm here to testify, it isn't the machine's fault.

It's your freezer's.

Being of a scientific mindset, I was willing to give this thing one more go to make sure that it wasn't the machine but in fact the place where I put it that was at fault. This attempt was proving to be just as disastrous as the first couple of times because this new (to me) refrigerator's door doesn't close properly unless you kick it shut. Ignoring the feeling that I might be wasting my time, I put the ice ream maker's tub in the freezer and basically forgot about it for a week.

At that time, this is what I saw...

Ice crystals forming on the outside of the tub. This is something that never happened previously. My hypothesis was proven correct: it wasn't the machine, it was the freezer. This thing was frozen solid. Perfect!

So, happy endings abound! I made a batch of old-fashioned vanilla and it was delicious and creamy and gone in a hurry (my kids devoured it before the adults could get a chance to enjoy some). Some day, I'll probably document that, but this time...It's all about the chocolate...

~Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Ice Cream~

(note: When I made vanilla ice cream, I let it churn for about 30 minutes to get the desired consistency, which is about the average time for this machine. For this one, I had to stop it in under 10 minutes because it was freezing too quickly and the paddle was sticking. The end result was perfect, but it took less time then I was expecting. Just a little head's up that you may want to keep your eye on this if you make chocolate in this machine.)

(other note: For those of you keeping track at home, yes, this is one of the recipes that are provided with the machine.) 

  • 2 Cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • ½ Cup (125 ml) sugar
  • ¼ Cup (60 ml) cocoa powder (you don't have to use dark cocoa powder, regular will work just fine. I use Special Dark because that's how I roll!)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

► 1.  Combine sugar and cocoa in a small bowl.

►2.  In a saucepan, warm cream and milk over low heat. 

 ►3. When cream and milk mixture is warm (when steam is visible on the side of the pan and a thin skin appears on the top), whisk in the sugar cocoa mix and the vanilla.

Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is well combined.

►4. Allow mixture to come to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator overnight. Seriously. Stick it in the fridge and don't touch it until the next day. I never said that this is a quick process.

►5.  When ready to make, assemble your machine, place your frozen tub directly from the freezer to the slot where it goes, place paddle in the motor, lid the machine and turn on. Slowly pour mixture through the hole in the lid.

►6.  Churn for 20-40 minutes (seriously, keep an eye on it) or until desired consistency.

Now, at this point, this chocolate ice cream is close to ready. Results may vary, but I had to chisel the product out of the tub.

Place your ice cream in clean containers and freeze for at least six hours.

Conclusion: It was hard as a rock, but totally worth it. Remember to never give up until all possibilities are counted. I was about to chuck this machine when I should have chucked my refrigerator. I shudder to think that all the food I stored for years wasn't being stored at a proper tempurature.

Anyway, those days are gone. Home made chocolate ice cream, no fillers or by-products, all real ingredients, kid tested and approved...