Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Vanilla ice-cream in winter

It is a strange notion indeed for an avid baker such as myself to not really like cake or sweet things.  I bake often, but seldom eat any of the sweet things that come out of my kitchen.  I love the process, the science, the pure magic of mixing eggs and sugar and whatever and getting a result so different from say, mixing it somewhat differently.  Alchemy I guess is my driving force.  Few people in my family or circle of friends complain though.

But I do like ice-cream.  I savor the act of licking a spoon of creamy coolness, even in winter.   I can often picture myself sitting at my Grandma's linoleum table with a bowl of sorbet and some chocolate powder (you know the stuff you flavor milk with) and stirring the concoction until it reached the perfect texture and then eating it slowly.  It was an act executed with almost religious ceremonious pomp by myself and my sister.  It is one of my favorite memories.

I also remember, an entirely different kitchen a few years later (tiles and no linoleum) and a soggy mess on the floor early one morning;  my friend and I craved a bowlful of ice-cream for a midnight feast and accidentally forgot to close the freezer properly.  

My preferences are predictably boring though.  I like vanilla and chocolate.  Sometimes choc-mint.  No double-chocolate bar, peanut butter, caramel coated treats for me.  I prefer a bowl.  No wrappers and no wooden sticks.
I'll make an exception for a cone from Baglio's on the square in Sandton, eaten in the shadow of Madiba's huge statue, amongst pigeons and tourists.

My two kids adore ice-cream as well.  They go through bowls and bowls year-round.  And most of their friends seem to like it as well.  There is a glass jar of cones on the counter that I cannot seem to keep full.  And the same goes for the ice-cream.  We make lollies with fruit juice or milk and sorbets with a simple sugar syrup.  

But I always wanted to have home-made vanilla or chocolate ice-cream.  The real deal.  And thought that I had that box ticked when I bought an ice-cream churner at the end of last year.  I made a few batches, but was never happy with the texture.  Too grainy.  The sorbets were wonderful, bursting with flavor and smooth to the tongue.  The vanilla version needed some tweeking.

And so yesterday, in a moment of craving ice-cream and the nearest shop far away, I read a few recipes and then stumbled onto the recipe book of none other than 'Ben and Jerry's'  and what a revelation.  The book tells stories of small beginnings, long hours and big dreams and of course a love of ice-cream far bigger than my own.  But I found a recipe for vanilla ice-cream that requires no cooking of the custard and the result is amazing.  Yes, the eggs are raw, but beaten to a ribbon of light fluffy mousseness and leaves no trace of egg once frozen.  And the best part, no waiting for the custard to cool down before churning.  This is so good, that I am now considering buying cream in bulk.