Friday, July 15, 2011

Egg Nog Ice Cream

I was tossing around several ideas for today's blog entry.  I've got lots of recipes to share and have taken pictures of a whole host of dishes that I've made.  Then, listening to the TV while I dressed this morning, I learned that July is National Ice Cream Month and this coming Sunday is National Ice Cream Day.  That made up my mind for me.  I had just made this ice cream a few days ago and it was ready for sharing.  You can't get better timing than that- it's serendipitous.

I had been kicking around the idea of making ice cream for a while and had run across a couple of recipes that grabbed my attention- one for a nutmeg ice cream and another for a honey-vanilla goat's milk ice cream.  Goat cheese in any form is my absolute favorite, so why shouldn't goat's milk make great ice cream?  It just so happens that Trader Joe's carries goat's milk, so I grabbed some a week or so ago with the intention of trying it out.  I was all set with honey and vanilla, I love the combination (ever had Haagen Dazs's version?- yum...).  But the nutmeg idea kept coming back to me, so I thought I'd throw caution to the wind and grate some fresh nutmeg into the ice cream base along with the vanilla and honey.  My instincts were right and the ice cream was heavenly.
My vanilla bean, a couple of fresh nutmegs, and the mini-grater.
Making ice cream is a pretty simple. You just have to have a bit of patience and the right tools.  There are plenty of ice cream makers out there, hand cranked ones, super-fancy counter top versions, ones that require a ton of ice and salt and whose motors are so loud you have to make the ice cream in the basement (we sold that model in a yard sale years ago, thank goodness...).  I am lucky enough to have gotten a special ice cream-making bowl for my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas a couple of years back, so I keep it in my freezer until I'm ready to use it.  It freezes the ice cream quickly (maybe 20-30 minutes) and is easy to clean and store.  It's a good choice if you don't want to buy a whole machine just for ice cream.

Eggnog Ice Cream
I struggled with what to call this ice cream- vanilla nutmeg goat's milk ice cream is just too much of a mouthful.  Then my husband tasted it and told me that I had nailed the flavor of eggnog.  It wasn't what I was going for, but hey, it's a whole lot easier to say.  And try to find fresh nutmeg if you can, I found mine in the regular old grocery store.  It makes a world of difference.  If all you've got is the jar in the back of the cabinet from two Thanksgivings ago, don't bother.  Skip the nutmeg and just call it honey vanilla.

Makes approximately 2 quarts

1 1/2 cups goat's milk (BTW, you can use regular cow's milk here too, I don't think the goat's milk made THAT much of a difference, just use whole milk, please)
1/2 cup light-flavored honey
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or 1 tsp fresh, pre-grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot combine the milk, cream, honey, nutmeg, vanilla seeds and the vanilla bean.  Warm this over a medium heat until it just begins to bubble around the edges.  Don't let it boil or you will curdle the milk.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they have become slightly thicker and take on a lighter color.  They should be a nice lemon yellow color.

Once the milk/cream mixture is hot, remove the vanilla bean (let the bean dry out and then stick it in a jar of sugar- vanilla sugar is great in tea).  Carefully and slowly pour the hot liquid into the egg yolks, stirring constantly.  This tempers the eggs (warms them up without fully cooking or scrambling them) and makes a nice custard for your ice cream.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and cool the custard in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
When the custard is very cold, you can pour it into your ice cream maker.  What you do from this point depends on the type of ice cream maker you have- follow the manufacturer's instructions.  I poured mine in, let it run on a low setting for about 20 minutes until it was noticeably thicker, had almost doubled in volume, and resembled a soft serve ice cream.  Then I scraped it from the bowl into a freezer safe container and let it freeze until it was firm, a couple of hours.
The ice cream is great as it is, or you could drizzle a bit of caramel on it, serve it with crushed gingersnaps, or alongside grilled peaches.  Happy National Ice Cream day!

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