Once upon a time, the child’s 11th birthday party involved a thing called a Vermonster.
Nope. Not a theme park.
It is every child’s ice cream fantasy. Twenty scoops of pure Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a bunch of toppings, sauces, and other goodies were crafted into a sundae and tossed into a giant metal mixing bowl with enough spoons to keep a gaggle of tween-age girls happy for at least 30 minutes. Back in the day – you could order a Vermonster in a local Ben & Jerry’s.
There was nothing more fun than living in Vermont when Ben & Jerry’s first became, well, Ben & Jerry’s. It was extraordinary ice cream – and so very different from the boring box-store stuff. Ben & Jerry’s was ice cream with heart.
But fast forward a million years or so and here we are on the left coast and Ben & Jerry’s is now in almost every box-store freezer and not even owned by Ben or Jerry anymore.
What’s a girl to do?
Make homemade of course. It is easy enough and well worth the small effort for the huge payback. I’m a big fan of Graeter’s Ice Cream – the kind where they drizzle chocolate in while it is churning and you get varying and often huge chunks of deep dark chocolate goodness in a bite of ice cream.
It is easy to do at home in your very own ice cream maker. This Cuisinart Ice Cream maker here, not all that expensive, is our favorite small summer electric appliance. Just remember to do a couple of things to make delicious homemade ice cream. First, keep the bowl thingy in the freezer – the coldest part of your freezer – so it is always ready to go when you feel like some ice cream. And make the custard stuff the day before (if you remember) so it is nice and chilled before you churn.
And may I say, that custard ice cream base is really worth the eggs and stove top preparation – though it takes a few minutes.
The Cuisinart book that comes with the ice cream maker has a some great recipes. And so does David Lebovitz in his book, The Perfect Scoop. For the size of the machine, David’s recipes are better.
Find yourself a Cuisinart and get ready to make some fabulous ice cream. And to help you along, I’m giving away a copy of David’s book (The Perfect Scoop) to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment about your favorite ice cream eating moment/memory and Cap’n Awesome will choose a winner at the end of the following week. Anything that makes Cap’n Awesome laugh always helps – and believe me, he could use some giggles.
This custard base recipe is one I’ve taken from David’s Perfect Scoop book and modified slightly (not much at all because why mess with perfection). I skip the vanilla bean infusion and just use some really good bourbon vanilla extract instead. For the ice cream base recipe from David you will want to go here to his website. Having made it several times I can tell you that you won’t find any better than his recipe.
To add the fabulous chocolate chips follow this simple method. Melt a small block (not packaged chocolate chips) of really good chocolate – I use about 8 to 10 ounces for each batch of ice cream – bittersweet and semisweet make a great mix – in a microwave safe glass measuring pitcher.
Start with 20 seconds and stir. Do it again until the chocolate is melted. Be careful not to over-do it – chocolate burns quickly. Or use a double boiler method and melt the chocolate over low heat. You will want to use a small pitcher to pour the warm, melted chocolate into the ice cream.
When the ice cream appears finished that is the time to pour the chocolate. Start drizzling a little stream right through the open top being careful to aim for the bottom of the container and not the paddle. A silicone spatula helps if you get a bunch on the paddle. Just use the spatula to push the ice cream around. You will see the larger and smaller chocolate pieces start to freeze and mix in nicely. Just continue until you’ve used the whole amount and let it churn for a minute more.
Most home ice cream makers are finished when the ice cream looks like an almost frozen milkshake. Don’t fret if it seems kind of melty. Just scrape it all into a freezer safe container. It is best when it has a chance to freeze for several hours or overnight. But we’ve indulged in under two hours and it is still mighty fine ice cream.
For really great GF ice cream cones you cannot beat these here from Let’s Do (Edward & Sons). And just in case you lust after an ice cream sandwich, try making large Amaretto Chocolate Chip Cookies here and filling two with ice cream. For best results, fill with a ton of ice cream, wrap in plastic and freeze for an hour or so. If you can wait that long.
If I had my way, ice cream would be its own food group. Right next to chocolate.
It may be the end of summer (or winter) and the apples are not quite ready for picking. So I say – eat ice cream and be happy.