Last month, Matthew MacDonald wrote a story for Heated that I was totally jealous of (meaning I loved the idea and wish I had thought of it). It makes the case that of all the dishes that we as home cooks can decide to make, the one with the highest "work-to-reward ratio" is ice cream. I haven't crunched all the numbers, but he has a point. While ice cream does take patience (you need to freeze the bowl, chill the base, then usually chill the ice cream after it's churned), it takes minimal effort and ingredients. Plus, there are few foods that are a better blank canvas for creativity and experimentation, and the end result is every bit as good as the stuff you get at the ice cream store or supermarket. Usually better.
The one thing you'll need is an ice cream machine. There are plenty of models that you can geek out on, but this one is affordable and reliable. (If you think you might become obsessed and turn your kitchen into an ice cream factory, order an extra freezer bowl).
Anyway, check out the story below, and if it puts you in the mood to start churning out a batch of ice cream (it should), take a look at the recipe that follows. It's my Simplest Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from How To Bake Everything, which uses cornstarch to thicken the mix instead of the traditional egg yolks (I think this lets the flavors shine through even more). After the main recipe, there are instructions for how to add flavors to ice cream at its various stages of cooking, plus 18 different specific variations; everything from Chocolate and Strawberry, to Bacon-Bourbon-Maple-Pecan and Miso-Peach (sounds strange...so good!).
I've yet to meet anybody who's made a batch of ice cream without getting hooked. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
No other dish combines low cost, high quality, and the possibility for madcap experimentation quite so successfully as homemade ice cream.
Classic vanilla ice cream usually calls for a custard base. I like this version better. Not only does cornstarch achieve the same velvety texture that you get from a custard, but the vanilla (or other flavors; see all the variations) shines through even more without the egg.
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Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.