Thursday, March 04, 2010
HONEY-VANILLA ICE CREAM
I can scarcely express how much I love this ice cream. I like honey and I like vanilla, so I didn’t doubt that they would be good when mixed when cream and frozen to a fluff, but even so I was taken aback by how incredibly delicious this tastes to me. Sometimes I think it reminds me of something nostalgic and half-remembered, and other times I think it must be what’s meant by “a land flowing with milk and honey.”If I could figure out how to make the inside of my mouth taste like this all the time, I would die happy. It’s not just that this is a good, simple, easy ice cream recipe (by Patricia Wells, via 101 Cookbooks); it strikes some sort of deep chord in me. I’ve been dying to share it with you ever since I tried it...er, last July.
In fact, this is the recipe that put an end to my run of frozen-treat making, which had started when I got my ice cream maker for my birthday in April. It was a halcyon few months—and then summer happened. Triple-digit desert heat + an apartment with no air conditioning + a wimpy freezer = ICE CREAM FAIL, ironically at the time that one requires ice cream the most. Even after a night in the freezer, my honey ice cream had the consistency of a milkshake that had been sitting in a hot car. We slurped it down happily just the same, and I vowed to make it again come cooler weather. But still, even though I knew perfectly well that the heat was to blame (not to mention that homemade ice creams, at least the non-egg ones, tend to be softer than commercial ones anyway, and this one didn’t even contain fruit or anything else that might have given it some extra body), deep down I felt jinxed, like I’d lost my ice-cream mojo. What if I tried it again and it didn’t work? Fall rolled around, but I didn’t get back on the horse, telling myself that I needed to find a source of good-quality vanilla beans cheaper than my local grocery stores. (The original recipe called for two beans, which is wildly extravagant, and although delicious, unnecessary; even most plain vanilla ice cream recipes don’t use more than one. I used one bean this time and it turned out just as tasty.) When Santa put a jar of three Penzeys beans in my Christmas stocking, that excuse went out the window, and now, with spring and the advent of tasty fruit season upon us (I'm fixing to be a frozen yogurt fiend!), I knew I had to face my fears before the summer heat returned. And this time, everything worked out just fine.
Both times, I used the amazing honey I got from the CSA last summer, but now the jar is just about empty. Next time, I’ll buy the honey at the farmer’s market (probably orange blossom, which tastes like candy to me). I’m sure the recipe would still be better than a poke in the eye if you used average everyday honey, but since honey is the main flavor here, it’s worth getting the good stuff. Luckily, a big jar of good honey plus a vanilla bean make this just expensive enough that I can’t justify making it every week, because otherwise I’d be (bee?) in trouble. Did I mention I love this stuff?
1 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup honey (use a high-quality, aromatic honey that you enjoy the flavor of)
1. Flatten the vanilla bean and cut it in half lengthwise. With a small spoon, scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and pod in a medium saucepan. Add the cream, milk, and honey. Stir to dissolve the honey. Heat over medium heat, stirring from time to time, just until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 1 hour.
3. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (several hours to overnight).
4. Remove the vanilla pod, and stir the mixture again to blend. Transfer it to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Serves: About 6
Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 4 hours of chilling time, plus freezing time
Leftover potential: Good