This whole thing started when a friend posted a brief rant to Facebook.
"No matter how many times you post recipes for it on your blog, I'M NEVER MAKING HOMEMADE ICE CREAM," my friend wrote. "Do people actually do that?"
In the comments, a spirited debate ensued. I insisted it was easy if you own an ice-cream maker. Another friend jumped in and said it can be done with a stand mixer. My husband warned that we have no space in our kitchen for an ice-cream maker.
A day later, I posted to the page of my friend who so vehemently opposes homemade ice cream: "I just bought an ice cream maker."
I was going to make the perfect homemade ice cream and prove my friend wrong. And I was going to make room for the ice-cream maker to prove to my husband that homemade frozen treats are worth a bit of space on our pots-and-pans rack.
I succeeded at both.
Upon hearing about my purchase, my six-months-pregnant sister, Mary Beth, demanded chocolate ice cream, and I happily obliged. I started with a recipe for milk-chocolate ice cream called "Sex, Drugs and Choc 'n' Roll" from "The Icecreamists" by Matt O'Connor.
I followed the recipe to a T, except that I substituted buttermilk for whole milk.
Making ice cream is a labor-intensive process, but it's not terribly difficult. The hardest part is adding the hot milk/cream/chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture slowly enough so you don't scramble the eggs. Then there's the waiting -- the ice bath, the chilling in the fridge, the churning and the freezing before you can enjoy your creation.
When I finally was able to taste my first attempt, I was impressed with the creaminess (because buttermilk is never a bad idea) but disappointed with the flavor and slight graininess. But when your ice cream only has seven ingredients, it's easy to pinpoint which one is making your dessert ever so slightly imperfect.
In this case, it was a little too sweet and tasted almost chalky from the quarter cup of cocoa powder called for in the recipe. I called my sister and told her this batch was good, but not good enough. I pledged to keep making batches until I got it just right.
For round two, I cut the cocoa powder by half, scaled back the sugar a bit, increased the amount of Swiss milk chocolate, and used regular whole milk.
I knew I'd nailed it that time. I was saving it for my sister, but I gave a friend a spoonful.
"Oh, you should write this down," she said.
After a vegetable-heavy dinner a night later, I handed Mary Beth a bowl of her ice cream.
"It's perfect," she said, bowl resting on her belly.
Since my success, my husband no longer complains about the fact that I bought an ice-cream maker and is enjoying the ice cream and sorbet I'm regularly churning out.
Most nights, after dinner, he just turns to me and says, "Is it time for frozen treats?"
Mary Beth's milk- chocolate ice cream
I recognize that my perfect chocolate ice cream might not be everyone's perfect chocolate ice cream. I recommend tweaking it until you get it just right. Then, of course, write it down.
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ounces good Swiss milk chocolate, finely chopped
Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.
Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until pale yellow.
Take the milk off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Slowly pour the chocolate milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat, stirring frequently, until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon and a line drawn with your finger remains intact. Do not let boil.
Prepare an ice bath -- take a large mixing bowl and fill halfway with ice cubes and a bit of water. Set a slightly smaller bowl on top of it.
Pour the mixture into the smaller bowl through a fine mesh sieve (this will catch any bits of scrambled egg or cocoa powder chunks). Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Once cooled, cover the custard with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. (I churned for 25 minutes.)
Transfer the churned ice cream to a freezer-proof container with a lid. (Press plastic wrap to the surface of the ice cream to prevent freezer burn.) Freeze for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.
Makes about a quart.
-- Adapted from "The Icecreamists" by Matt O'Connor (Mitchell Beazley, June 2013, $19.99)
Annie Siebert: email@example.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.