A Tale of Two Ice Creams
My family would regularly make hand-churned ice cream for summer festive occasions. Memorial day and July 4th in particular were not complete without our homemade Cookies and cream, chocolate cookies and cream, or butter pecan. My dad even won an office contest with our butter pecan recipe. It was a group effort. My mom would make the ice cream base, and my dad would pack our hand-crank freezer with ice and salt. We would each take our turns churning the big crank–usually 10-15 minutes at a time–and were rewarded with a taste of the creamy goodness that clung to the dash when it reached soft-serve consistency. The ice cream was then covered, packed in more ice and salt and topped with newspapers and a few quilts to cure until dessert time. Packed thusly we would transport it to various functions. I even remember eating homemade ice cream on the national mall while we waited for fire works. I also have vague memories of meeting Joe Biden? We made ice cream so often that we ended up patching the fiberglass bucket and welding a piece back on to the crank when it broke off. We had a brief foray into using an electric ice cream maker but the motor burned out quickly so back to old faithful we went.
I purchased our ice cream maker when my wife was deployed in Iraq many years ago. We thought it would provide a good activity for me to do with our only child at the time. We found a coupon and purchased a Cuisinart 2-quart model . A lot of home ice cream machines don’t make a full half gallon which is needed when you want to make enough to share or give each guest more than a tablespoon. It was easier to use than Old Faithful as you didn’t have to worry about ice and salt. You just kept the insert in the freezer and pulled it out when you were ready. I’ve made ice cream and on off over the years but having some friends over recently gave me the motivation to try again.
I decided to make a traditional churned ice cream as well as one of these new fangled “no-churned” recipes that now seem to proliferate the interwebs. I settled on a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup with fudge swirl for the churned and then found a strawberry cheese cake recipe for the no-churn. Strawberry cheesecake is one of our favorite flavors at our local ice cream place.
The Peanut butter cup recipe came together pretty easily. You blend peanut butter with sugar and some dairy and chill it down before putting it in the ice cream machine. Once churned you fold in PB cups and a fudge sauce you make on the stove top and cool down. The finished product had a good peanut butter flavor and a creamy texture that softened quickly after freezing for several hours. I really wanted to use the mini pb cups from Trader Joe’s, but I was at the “not one more store” point in my shopping trip so I opted for unwrapped mini Reese’s cups in a bag. They were still a little to large. The fudge swirl was made with unsweetened chocolate so it was quite dark–I lightened it up with a little heavy cream. Next time I would use semi-sweet chocolate. I am a dark chocolate fan, but my family prefers something a little more mellow.
Most no-churn recipes involve whipping cream and then folding in flavorings before putting it in the freezer. In this recipe you blend the cream, sour cream, cream cheese (lactose intolerant need not apply), sugar and some lemon juice in a food processor. Then you layer it with a separately made strawberry sauce and cheesecake bites. Please note, I did not make from scratch cheesecake as the recipe directed. I just bought a few slices of pre-made cheesecake from our local Wegmans. Yes. I am a monster. The recipe had a fresh, light flavor from the strawberry sauce, lemon juice and lemon zest and good cheesecake taste. Because no air is churned into it, no churn ice cream (this recipe anyway) freezes really hard and I do recommend you leave it out to soften for the time indicated.
I would be willing to try some other no churn recipes, but I I find the texture of churned ice cream is so much better. It was fun making ice cream again. Happy Summer!