Friday, June 11, 2010


Further proof (as if I needed it) that David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop is an invaluable investment: A few weeks ago, two friends of mine visited me from Minnesota and we took a short roadtrip up to the central coast. For sustenance, we brought along a large bag of oranges from the farmers’ market—but then we stopped for dinner at a mutual friend’s parents’ house in Santa Barbara and they gave us a lovely parting gift (in the manner of Southern Californians) of a huge sack of oranges and lemons from their backyard tree, so even after three days of snacking, we came home with more oranges than we’d started with. I like eating oranges, but with strawberries and cherries and peaches and nectarines all coming into season, they’re not the first thing I reach for when I want some fruit. So I needed some sort of tasty recipe that used up a lot of oranges (sure, I could just juice them, but where’s the fun in that?), and naturally I thought, “I wonder if I could make orange ice cream?”

Of course I can, and The Perfect Scoop has the recipe. Now, orange is not my favorite fruit flavor. When I was a kid, the orange popsicles were always the last ones left languishing in the variety pack, getting sticky and syrupy in that weird way old popsicles do, until I would reluctantly finish them off (or foist them on unsuspecting friends) because my parents insisted that I finish the box before they would buy another. And don’t even get me started on the sad occasions at a relative’s house when the promised “ice cream for dessert” turned out to be just orange sherbet, which as far as I was concerned was practically health food in disguise. But I did have a soft spot for Creamsicles (or Dreamsicles, as we used to call them—was that just the knock-off brand? If so, it no longer seems to exist). Sure, I’d rather have a Drumstick or an ice cream sandwich any day, but if those weren’t available, a Creamsicle still made a worthy frozen treat, superior to the lowly everyday Popsicle. I still buy them occasionally, for that nostalgic vanilla-orange taste (plus there are now raspberry ones, which are even better).

So I was excited to see that not only did Lebovitz have an orange ice cream recipe, but he was comparing it to a Creamsicle. And indeed, although a whiff of vanilla would amp up the similarity, it does taste like a creamy orange popsicle—but even better, of course, what with the freshly squeezed orange juice and lack of corn syrup. At first I was ambivalent; it tasted quite sweet and…well, intensely orangey. But to my surprise, by the time we’d finished off the batch, I’d fallen in love. This is precisely the kind of unique recipe that makes it so thrilling to have an ice cream maker. I’d still probably turn down storebought orange sherbet if it was offered to me, but I ended up making this two times in a row. It’s refreshingly citrusy yet without the pucker of lemon, and (in California at least, with our juicy, plentiful oranges) you can make it cheaply all year round. Orange you glad I gave it a try? (Sorry; couldn't resist.)

I don’t know if it’s because the temperature’s on the rise or just because it contains fruit juice instead of a puree, but both times I made this, it came out of the ice cream maker fairly runny, rather than thick and fluffy like my first sour-cream-based ice cream. I was worried this would lead to a melty or icy finished product, but I stuck it in the freezer anyway and was rewarded with perfectly textured ice cream; I think the alcohol saved the day by preventing it from freezing too hard.

⅔cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 oranges, preferably unsprayed
1¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice (from 4 or 5 large oranges)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or another orange liqueur

1. In a blender, pulverize the sugar and orange zest until the zest is very fine. Add the orange juice, sour cream, half-and-half, and Grand Marnier and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then process it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Yields: About 1 quart
Time: 15 minutes of active work, plus chilling and processing time
Leftover potential: Good

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