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~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Custard Ice-Cream Base ~

IMG_9213Rich and creamy chocolate ice-cream.  One dip or two, with or without bits of chocolate or  sauce swirled throughout, it's almost impossible to resist.  Kids love it, adults do too, and, I'm betting it's the favorite-flavor of at least one person in every family.  No banana split would be complete without a dip of chocolate, and, it's a requirement when making the perfect double-chocolate shake or malt too.  Whether it's firm scoops served in a bowl or swirls of soft-serve piled high atop a cone, the Summer heat is the perfect time to indulge in this cool and satisfying treat.

The difference between ice cream & frozen custard:

IMG_9201During June, July and August, we will all most likely eat more ice cream than we did during the past nine months.  In my kitchen, during the next three months, I'll be making more than I did during the past nine too.  Whatever flavor I've got churning, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, everyone I know (myself included) will generically refer to it as ice cream.  That said, what I'll technically be making is frozen custard, and, if you make homemade ice cream, I'm betting you're most likely making old-fashioned frozen custard (or a version of it), too.  Read on.

Large_7f93e9cc-745d-4b8e-b498-5091f991cfcaStore-bought ice cream is made from milk or skim milk, or, milk or skim milk and cream, corn syrup or sugar, and flavorings.  Egg yolks are sometimes added, but not required. Ice cream is made in a machine that pumps lots of air into it as it churns, yielding a light mouthfeel.  It is federally defined as:  a frozen dessert containing 10% milk fat. That said, the simplicity of making old-fashioned ice cream has been so convoluted by high-tech machinery (to insure consistent, signature, hand-scoop-able texture), and additives, preservatives and stabilizers (for a long and palatable shelf life), one couldn't reproduce it adequately in the home kitchen, even if one was inclined to try.

IMG_9241Frozen custard is made from whole milk, or a combination of milk and cream, egg yolks, sugar and flavorings.  Egg-yolks are a requirement, and regulations require 1.4% egg yolks by weight.  The higher fat content (from milk and/or cream) gives it a rich, luxurious taste.  Whether made in a hand-crank or commercial machine, frozen custard is churned at a slow pace, to incorporate little air, giving it its dense texture.  Because it melts almost on contact with the lips (similar to soft serve ice cream), it is best served immediately, directly from the machine it was made in.

A bit of rich & creamy frozen-custard history:

IMG_9198Frozen custard was invented on Coney Island, NY, in 1919.  Two ice-cream venders, Archie and Elton Kohr, discovered that when they added egg yolks to their home-made ice-cream base, they produced a richer, creamier, smoother ice cream.  On the first weekend they sold 18,460 cones. They had invented the precursor to our present-day soft-serve ice cream, with one exception: little air was pumped into their product.  As described above, true frozen custard is quite dense.  The mixture enters a refrigerated tube, and, as it freezes, blades scrape the frozen product from the sides of the barrel walls.  Unlike hand-scooped ice cream, the mixture stays in the machine, being discharged directly into cones or cups, on an as-needed basis, to be served immediately.

IMG_9149For my easy-to-make, foolproof chocolate-flavored custard-base:

2  cups heavy cream

2  cups whole milk

1  tablespoons vanilla extract

1  tablespoon chocolate extract

1/2  cup firmly-packed cocoa powder

2  tablespoons firmly-packed cornstarch

8  large egg yolks

1 1/4  cups granulated sugar

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

IMG_9151 IMG_9151 IMG_9151 IMG_9151 IMG_9151 IMG_9151~Step 1.  Place cream, 1 1/2 cups of the milk and extracts and cocoa powder in a 4-quart saucepan on the stovetop.  With the heat turned off, take a moment or two to thoroughly whisk the cocoa powder into milk mixture.  In a 2-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch.  Set aside.

IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957~Step 2.  In a medium bowl, use the fork to whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add the egg yolk mixture to the 2-cup container with the milk/cornstarch mixture.  Use the fork to vigorously combine the two mixtures.  Set aside. 

IMG_9161 IMG_9161 IMG_9161 IMG_9161~Step 3.  Heat the saucepan of milk mixture on the stovetop over medium heat.  Heat the mixture until almost steaming (not full-steaming, simmering or boiling), whisking occasionally, about 2-3 minutes.  Adjust heat to low.  While whisking constantly, gradually and in a slow steady stream, whisk the egg yolk/sugar/milk/cornstarch mixture into the almost-steaming milk mixture.  Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes.  In the beginning, mixture will be foamy on top.  As foam subsides and when mixture begins to thicken, switch from whisk to a large spoon to stir.  Continue to cook gently until custard base is simmering gently, nicely-thickened, silky-smooth and ribbon like, about 3-4 minutes.

IMG_9177 IMG_9177~ Step 4.  Remove saucepan from heat and immediately transfer custard base to a 2-quart food storage container.  Cover the surface of the custard base with a layer of plastic wrap, meaning: don't cover the container, lay the plastic directly on the surface of the custard (to prevent a rubbery skin from forming on the top).  Cool for 1-2 hours prior to putting the lid on the container and refrigerating for several hours to overnight.

IMG_9012 IMG_9182 IMG_9182 IMG_9182~Step 5.  From here forward, for the rest of this recipe, follow the directions that came with your ice-cream maker.  Because mine has a built-in freezing system, I pour all of the cold custard base into the stainless steel work bowl (which has been pre-chilled by the machine for me).  The lid goes on the work bowl and the machine gets turned on to churn for 1 hour - 1 hour, 10 minutes.

Scoop into a pretty bowl or favorite ice-cream cone...

IMG_9207... & enjoy your journey back to a kinder, gentler time.

IMG_9220Pinch me -- this is almost too good to be true.

IMG_9230Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Custard Ice-Cream Base:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 quarts chocolate-flavored frozen custard.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; fork; 4-quart saucepan; whisk; large spoon; 2-quart food storage container w/tight-fitting lid; plastic wrap; ice-cream maker; ice-cream scoop

IMG_9069Cook's Note:  All frozen-custard and ice-cream base recipes are not created equal.  Sometimes the consistency is too soft, sometimes its too dense, or worse, full of nasty ice crystals.  Some recipes are cloyingly sweet, and other times, not enough flavoring is added.  Frozen custard and ice-cream are both emulsions with two components that need encouragement to meld (fat and water), by adding components that absorb water (sugar, starch and protein).  Meet my foolproof recipe for ~ My Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Custard Ice-Cream Base ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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