Headache-Free Ice Cream

I have made a brilliant discovery. It is not the cure for cancer or a method for getting strawberry stains out of white baby shirts, but it is pretty revolutionary. It is a formula—1 part milk to 2 parts cream to 1/2 part sweetener. It is the secret to incredibly easy and delicious homemade ice cream.

Most homemade ice creams are laborious. First, you make custard, which is a tricky business. You have to heat milk and temper eggs, neither of which is easy to do correctly. One misstep and you have curdled yolks or custard that is thin and watery. The custard is also hot, which means you have to wait patiently for it to get down to 40 degrees before you can finally churn and freeze. Even if you do it right, there is a lot of anxiety.

Headache-Free Ice Cream

No more! I have found an ice cream recipe that is easy.

It comes from a Patricia Wells recipe. Tucked into the pages of The Paris Cookbook, there is something called “Maison du Miel’s Heather Honey Ice Cream.” It calls for vanilla beans, heavy cream, milk, and honey. It says to steep the beans in hot milk and cream, then to strain out the seeds and whisk in honey. Chill the mixture like a custard, right down to 40 degrees, and then to pour the thin runny syrup right into your ice cream machine. There is no custard making, no thickening. And the way I make it, there is not even any chilling. This means we need only 30 minutes from ice-cream dreams to reality.

Here’s how it works:

I like my ice cream sweetened with maple syrup. Honey’s okay, especially a very light honey, but you have to heat up the milk to get it to blend, and when the honey is dark it has a very strong flavor. Maple syrup mixes easily with milk and cream, and the taste is subtler. So I stir together 1/2 cup maple syrup, 2 cups heavy cream, and 1 cup milk. That’s it. I pour this into the ice cream maker. It hums away. Twenty-five minutes later we have homemade ice cream! What could be better?

Of course, it’s fun to play with the flavors. This time of year you could do just about anything: blackberry, peach, raspberry. You could steep the milk with rosemary or ginger or even coffee. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. In a few minutes you’ll be digging out a bowl and a spoon, and tucking in to your very own sweet cream flavor.

Headache-Free Ice Cream


Elspeth Hay lives in Wellfleet

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