For those of us in the United States, we are celebrating Memorial Day today and, whether you are here or abroad, I hope you all have had a lovely and safe weekend. Memorial Day is a day set aside in our country to honor those in the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives and their service in defense of our country and our allies, and I bow my head to those brave men and women. Today many memorials are taking place around the country in the form of parades, the laying of wreathes and tributes.
Additionally, this weekend marks the unofficial kick-off to summer and all those good things that come with it like grilling on the barbecue, sharing fun times with friends, the first trip to the beach…and that harbinger of summer, homemade ice cream! We had a small cook-out Saturday night for some friends who were in town and which featured these truly amazing Chile Lime Ground Chicken Burgers with Fresh Guacamole from the lovely and talented personal chef and teacher Karista Bennett, and I do encourage you to click on the link attached to the title of these burgers…and make them! They are awesome, and so is her brother Tio’s Fresh Guacamole, which is on that same recipe post. The only thing I did differently from Karista was put some olive oil on my hands to make the patties because the chicken is so soft, and I used 1/2 of a large serrano pepper in the guacamole instead of a whole one. This recipe is a keeper, and I can see why Karista’s clients love it so much. I even posted it on the Bits and Breadcrumbs Facebook Page because I thought it was so good. I served my Warm Asparagus and Potato Salad with Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette alongside the burgers, and a grilled corn recipe that I’ll share in my next post. Super-duper good eats, y’all!
As you know, I’ve had a plethora of early peaches on hand, and after going bonkers at the market last week, I had even more. I came into the weekend knowing that I wanted to make peach ice cream, and after looking around for a recipe I liked, I settled on one by Curtis Aikens that sounded really good. Of course I tweaked it just a bit, but in the making of it, I was reminded of some pretty hard and fast tips that can make the difference between having superlative ice cream, and weirdly textured ice milk, or iced soup. The real key here is timing.
I have to say that the result of Curtis’ recipe and my tweaking was quite possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. Our guests felt the same way, and the peach flavor in this was absolutely stunning. It is now my favorite fruit ice cream base. I’m sharing both his original recipe link and my tweaked version, because mine includes the instructions for a successful freezing on this and any other frozen treats. It’s not hard, you just need to plan in advance for optimal results. After you read the recipe, scroll down to see the step by step photos for achieving great ice cream at home.
I hope you’ll kick off your summer, or any time really, with some of the great ideas in this post. And, if your peaches haven’t come in yet, keep this in mind for when the time is right, or try it with some fruit you have available fresh or frozen. This ice cream is the real deal and very rich, but worth the splurge. It is also well worth the advance planning. Cheers everyone!
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
Adapted from Curtis Aikens’ recipe for Peach Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups chopped, peeled and pitted peaches and their juice
1 1/4 cups cane sugar (if your peaches are super sweet or if you don’t like sweet desserts, you might wish to cut the sugar back by 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons good quality Amaretto
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk, or 1/2 cup 1% and 1/2 cup light cream (this is what I used)
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract, such as Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla
4 egg yolks
A 1 1/2 quart capacity ice cream maker. If using a small home electric kind, make sure the bowl is well frozen, as in several days in the freezer before you plan to use it.
2 nights before you want to eat your ice cream, combine the peaches, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the lemon juice and the amaretto in a small bowl. Stir to combine well, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight to well chill. You can stir it occasionally if you think about it.
The same night as you prep the peaches, make the custard base. In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar, heavy cream and the milk or milk/light cream combo as mentioned above, and the vanilla. Bring it just to a boil over medium low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then remove it from the heat. In another small bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Add about 1/3 of the hot cream mixture to the yolks while whisking the yolks, then return the yolk mixture to the cream mixture in the saucepan while whisking the cream mixture. Return the saucepan with the custard mix to medium low heat and continue to cook, stirring with a spoon, until the mixture thickens, comes just to a low boil and coats the back of the spoon, leaving a clean trail when you run your finger through it. Remove the custard from the heat, strain it into a medium bowl through a fine to remove any solids and allow it to cool at room temperature until just barely warm. Cover with plastic wrap allowing the plastic to touch the top of the custard to prevent a skin, then cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and place it into the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Now I know you’re thinking “can’t I just put this in an ice bath to quick chill it and move on?” Sure, and if you’ve looked at Curtis’ original recipe he suggests just that. But most folks have home ice cream makers with the little frozen bowls like I have, instead of the industrial kitchen kind, and they don’t freeze the same. In fact, if your custard base is still warm at all, the ice cream will not freeze before the bowl defrosts. I have had unhappy results with cream mixtures by not allowing the base to chill overnight. Unlike mixtures that contain lower fat content and therefore more water, the butterfat in the cream takes a while to chill and this will all come together much better, perfectly in fact, if you follow my directions. Just sayin’. 🙂
After your custard and your peaches are well chilled the next day, strain the peaches over a fine sieve, collecting the juice into a bowl, then return the fruit to the fridge. Gently whisk the reserved juice into the custard, and start your ice cream freezer. I use a home Cuisinart ice cream maker, so this means at the last minute removing my frozen container, popping it onto the machine, putting in the dasher and lid, and starting it. Pour the custard mixture into the ice cream maker while it’s running and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions until almost completely done, in my case this was about 22 minutes later (please see visuals below.) When the custard is almost frozen—and this will be soft still—add in the cold peaches and let it run until it’s the desired consistency of frozen, about 8-10 more minutes.
And here’s the other trick. You put it back into the freezer. I know, this is the hardest part…the waiting, but you will be rewarded!
Quickly transfer the ice cream from the bowl into freezer-proof containers or tubs, sealing well. Put the tubs of ice cream into the freezer and allow the ice cream to harden to normal ice cream consistency. I let it go overnight. This ice cream is very creamy and even after being frozen overnight, it will be scoop-able, but not soft serve. If you prefer yours softer, by all means freeze it to your desired preference or allow it to soften before serving. The ice cream will keep for several days in the freezer…but believe me, it won’t last that long!