Everyone, meet my ICE-21 Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. ICE-21, meet everyone.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to make my own ice cream. Maybe it began three years ago, when I spent all summer working at a gelato store near my home. It was a tiny shop, and during the day, I was the only employee. I had my own key, and opened the store on my own. I turned on the freezer, set out the tubs of gelato, and refilled all the toppings. Unlike most college-aged students home for the summer, I never viewed my work as a “summer job.” To me, it was fun; I liked interacting with the customers, explaining the different flavors, and feeling (for the five to six hours I worked) like I owned the place.
Finally, this summer, I couldn’t wait any longer. I decided to buy an ice-cream maker as a birthday present to myself, and also purchased a cookbook: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.
Ever since the first time I tried Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, I was hooked. I was visiting a friend in Columbus, Ohio last summer, and knowing that I was an ice-cream lover, he introduced me to Jeni’s. The lines were long, but the wait was worth it; I had never heard of flavors like “Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry,” and “Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk,” but after one taste, I knew I had to have more. We went back to Jeni’s twice during my visit, and upon returning home, I discovered that a local market sold pints of the ice cream.
However, the store didn’t sell my favorite flavor of Jeni’s: Pistachio and Honey. I bought a pint of the Salty Caramel (a close runner-up), but I still remembered the nutty flavor of the Pistachio Ice Cream, balanced with the sweetness of the honey. I pined after it for awhile, and wished that there was a Jeni’s store closer to home.
So when I was trying to decide what flavor to make first with my new ice-cream maker, Pistachio and Honey seemed like a natural choice. I skimmed Jeni’s cookbook for the recipe, but surprisingly, there was only a recipe for Roasted Pistachio. Not to be deterred, I decided to substitute 1/3 of the 2/3 cup sugar with honey, and have a little faith; I was nervous that by altering the recipe (especially never having made ice cream before), I would end up with some type of weird paste or burnt cream, or that it would adversely affect the flavor.
Luckily, the ice cream turned out even better than I had expected. I read through the directions twice before I started, and made sure to follow Jeni’s advice to the letter; after all, armed with her tips and suggestions, how bad could it turn out?
It was fun watching the ice-cream freeze in the machine, and when it started coming away from the sides, I removed the freezer bowl from the machine. I scooped the ice cream into a plastic storage tub, and per Jeni’s directions, I put a layer of parchment paper on top (to seal out any excess air). Then (even though I was tempted to eat most of it immediately), I put the container in the freezer to set overnight…Of course, I had a few tastes before putting it away, but I was anxious to see the finished product.
Eating the first scoop was like trying the ice cream for the first time all over again. The roasted pistachio taste was smoky and nutty, perfectly complimented by the sweeter almond flavor and honey. The salty nut taste hit my palette first, but was quickly balanced out by all the sweetness. Only Jeni’s ice cream can create that kind of taste experience; you move through a whole spectrum of flavors, all in the amount of time it takes for the ice cream to melt on your tongue.
I’m glad that I bought the ice cream maker and cookbook, and I can’t wait to try out other recipes throughout the rest of the summer. Next time, I’m thinking that something with chocolate may be in order…
Jeni’s Splendid Pistachio and Honey Ice Cream (adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home)
Makes about 1 quart
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (you can find these at Trader Joe’s)
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey (I used Clover)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Spread the 1/2 cup pistachios out on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until fragrant and just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and pulverize in a food processor until the pistachios become a very smooth paste (it will start sticking to the sides of the food processor). Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Mix the cream cheese, pistachio paste, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with (mostly) ice and water.
COOK: Combine the remaining milk, the cream, honey, sugar and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about one minute. Remove from the heat.
CHILL: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
FREEZE: Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and turn on the ice cream machine. Pour the almond extract into the opening in the top of the machine and continue to spin the ice cream until thick and creamy.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.