Ice cream for the holidays?

by juno on December 12, 2010

Cranberry ice cream above; cranberry orange below...

I made two kinds of ice cream for Thanksgiving, straight-up cranberry and an ice cream flavored with uncooked cranberry orange relish (recipe in the Joy of Cooking). While the latter was interesting, and fairly yummy, the plain cranberry ice cream was the real keeper, tart and creamy and such a pretty color. It’s going to turn up again at Christmas in a slightly altered form, but I can’t say what—it’s a surprise.

Here’s the big secret: you don’t need a recipe to make ice cream, unless you’re going for some specific effect like ultra-creaminess, but an ice cream maker does come in handy. (If you don’t have an ice cream maker, and, again, you’re willing to compromise a little on texture, you can use the granita method. Freeze your mixture in a baking dish set flat in the freezer and stir it around with some regularity.) The cranberry ice cream contained: cranberries, honey, raw cream, maple syrup. I made cranberry sauce with cranberries and honey, simmered until the cranberries were soft. If you want to regularize things, use the 12 oz. bag and honey to the sweetness you like, and save any leftover sauce to eat with meat or on yogurt or rice pudding, or plain, from a spoon. I put the sauce through a Foley food mill to get the bits of skin out and let it cool. You could do something similar with a blender and a sieve, or leave the skins in if you don’t mind them. Then I took most of a quart of cream (my ice cream maker makes up to 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream, which you get from around a quart of base), added sauce until it was the color and flavor I wanted, and then added maple syrup to sweeten it a little more. Froze it—half an hour later—yummy and beautiful (but do make sure your base is cold before you freeze it; if you’ve warmed it with handling, stick it back in the fridge for a while). If you want it less rich, and don’t mind an icier texture, use milk in place of some of the cream—if you keep it in the freezer for a while before eating, you may have to let it soften a bit before serving. If you want an even tarter flavor, substitute the yogurt for some milk or cream. You like orange zest in your cranberry sauce—go for it. You get the idea. The worst that can happen is that it won’t be quite perfect. You know the expression, “I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers”? I doubt anyone you serve homemade ice cream to will kick you out of bed, either.

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