I don't know if it's the fact that this was my first homemade ice cream, or if the recipe is just that amazing. Perhaps it's both? This frozen custard deity is marvelous; better than my beloved Häagen-Dazs black walnut, and Ben & Jerry's classic vanilla. As the name indicates, you caramelize sugar until it turns a seductive, deep amber colour. This gives it a sugary, almost dulce de leche-like flavour. The next time I make it (and there will be a next time!) I will omit the vanilla extract & allow the caramel to take the lead.
Making ice cream without a machine is quite easy, albeit very time consuming. But it's something I will force myself to do several times over the next few months. Hopefully this wasn't just a case of beginners luck. I'll be sure to keep my blog updated on this pressing news flash.
Burnt Sugar Ice Cream
(from Baking: From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Stir the sugar and water together in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil, without stirring, until the syrup turns a deep amber color (watch it carefully - too dark and it will be too bitter!)--from time to time, brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and swirl the pan. (Depending on the size of your pan and the intensity of the heat, it could take about 8 minutes for the caramel to color properly.)
Stand back--things can get a little wild--lower the heat and add the milk and cream. Don't be concerned when everything bubbles and seethes and the caramel hardens; it will calm down and smooth out as you heat and stir. Continue to heat and stir and when the mixture is smooth, remove the pan from the heat.
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks and salt together until very well blended and just slightly thickened. Still whisking, drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they don't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping, until the custard slightly thickens and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track. the custard should reach at least 170F, but no more than 180F, on an instant read thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into a 2 quart glass measuring cup or clean heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
David Lebovitz's method for making ice cream without a machine
1. Prepare your ice cream mixture, then chill it over an ice bath.
2. Put a deep baking dish, or bowl made of plastic, stainless steel or something durable in the freezer, and pour your custard mixture into it.
3. After forty-five minutes, open the door and check it.
As it starts to freeze near the edges, remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Really beat it up and break up any frozen sections. Return to freezer.
4. Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it's freezing. If you have one, you can use a hand-held mixer for best results, or use a stick-blender or hand-held mixer.
But since we're going low-tech here, you can also use just a spatula or a sturdy whisk along with some modest physical effort.
5. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. It will likely take 2-3 hours to be ready. *It took mine about 5 hours to get to that perfect consistency, but the bowl I was using was deep and narrow. The process would be faster in a wide, shallow bowl.*