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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 02:32 pm

All thanks to Mr. Ice Cream

It doesnÂ’t take much to make a flavor-cream bomb

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Blood orange and burnt caramel, crème fraîche and Meyer lemon, brandy-macerated peach. These were the ice cream flavors I had come to hear about over the phone with my friend, the former pastry chef-turned-restaurant critic (and my former editor). He’d rattle them off nonchalantly, as if I knew what he was talking about, and surely he was referring to something off the menu at a hot new restaurant, right? Think again. The man whose refrigerator housed little more than a jar of mustard was the most detail-oriented, flavor-specific ice-cream maker I had ever met. Friends stopping by for a Sunday afternoon catch-up session? Depending on the season, they might get cardamom-infused persimmon, blackberry-lime or a chili-heated watermelon sorbet. He would go to any length to make the most lavish ice cream, and for that alone I admired him. In spite of all my culinary training, I had never made ice cream and was in awe of his imaginative ice-creamy spirit. But, I rationalized, Mr. Ice Cream (as I’ve come to think of him) owned a fancy Italian machine that produced Maserati-style gelato. The recent market trend of lower-end electric machines designed for the kitchen plebe got me thinking that perhaps I should plunk down the 50 bucks and attempt to say “I love you” with ice cream, just like Mr. Ice Cream. So I called him, announcing my plans. He assigned me a batch of vanilla (laced with bourbon, of course) so I could get a handle on the basics of ice cream custard. Put that freezer bowl in the freezer 24 hours ahead, he advised, and let that custard get good and cold. Dutifully I prepared my first batch of custard and, once it was chilled, poured it into my new machine for a 35-minute churn. Then the moment I had been waiting for arrived. I stuck my spoon in, and it seemed like time (or my heart) had stopped. It was a flavor-cream bomb, without the supermarket “air cream” we’ve become accustomed to. I think even Mr. Ice Cream would have been proud.

Bill Addison’s Vanilla-Bourbon Ice Cream

Ingredients 1 3/4 cups heavy cream 1 1/2 cups half-and-half Half a vanilla bean Seven egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup bourbon
Instructions Place cream and half-and-half in a saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture. Add the bean and bring the mixture to just under a boil over medium heat. Remove mixture from heat and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes. Separate eggs. Combine egg yolks with sugar and salt in a bowl, whisking until the mixture lightens. Slowly whisk in a small amount (approximately 1/4 cup) of the warm cream mixture to temper the eggs. Transfer the egg mixture into saucepan and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon without running (about 165 degrees). Remove from heat. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, removing the vanilla bean. Add vanilla extract and bourbon. Place bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Once it’s cooled, pour the custard into an airtight container and chill completely. Freeze in an ice-cream maker in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 quart.
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