Thursday, July 21, 2011

Change of Plans

The delightful and sometimes frustrating tendency of my plans to change sometimes evolves into spontaneous attempts at recipes.  In this case, I actually did finish reading a research paper given to me last Saturday, but my thermodynamics notes did not happen.  I enjoy being at home, but there is this pleasant and utterly non-productive lack of urgency, deadlines and stress that accompanies the semester.  Restful as it may be, irritation at inactivity often sets in.  However, yesterday, as I procrastinated and spent time with the puppy outside in the backyard, inspiration struck.

Here's the puppy!  Inside, because taking his picture outside is a skill I have yet to master.  He's an energetic pup.  Very, very energetic pup.
For the past couple of days, there has been an extra cup of heavy whipping cream languishing in the fridge.  Combined with a prolific lemon tree in said backyard and my penchant for almond flavors, I thought of a lemon almond ice cream.  The internet bestowed me with a single lovely recipe for :pastry studio's Lemon Almond Ice Cream and of course, I promised myself I would finish reading that paper before I tried it.  About 6 pages of chemicals (that I can barely pronounce) and acronyms (that I had to keep looking up) later, here we are, the slightly altered version of the lemon almond ice cream.

I skipped the lemon juice because I usually use it as an acid for making buttermilk, and the idea of congealed milk wisps floating around my ice cream did not appeal to me. Perhaps next time I will gather my courage and pour lemon juice into milk without cooking the results.

I use this to make buttermilk for biscuits...
However, :pastry studio uses lemon juice mixed directly into the milk and cream as well as another blogger who used the recipe.  Perhaps it's a matter of taste?  I also doubled the lemon zest because I thought it was a waste not to do something useful with the half-stripped lemon.  I guess the juice I didn't use will go to something else, maybe a lemon tart?  Or biscuits.  We'll see.  Oh, and one more thing.  I used 1% instead of whole milk because that's what we had in the house.  I appreciate both icy and creamy ice creams, so it wasn't an issue for me.

Lemon Almond Ice Cream from Pastry Studio
Makes about 3 cups

5 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup 1% milk
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
One "pinch" salt (I approximated here.  Taste the mixture, then add salt.  When the flavors are intensified, that's enough salt) 

1 vegetable peeler or Microplaner if you have it
1 chef's knife to chop lemon zest if you have no Microplaner (alas, I do not)
1 large, sturdy mixing bowl
1 rubber spatula or balloon whisk
2-cup liquid measuring cup
½ teaspoon measure
½ cup dry measure
1 tablespoon measure 
Refrigerator large enough to accept mixing bowl
Freezer large enough to accept mixing bowl
Plastic wrap for the mixing bowl
Something to stir the ice cream as it freezes (such as a butter knife)


1. Zest the lemon and place in the mixing bowl.

Yummy, chunks of lemon zest.  Vegetable peelers are good things.
I love the smell of freshly chopped lemon zest :)

2. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The flavors should meld together during this time.

3. Freeze in ice cream maker or in the freezer.  If using the freezer, put the whole bowl in.  Take it out and stir every 30 minutes, particularly incorporating the frozen bits along the side of the bowl.  I got this very helpful tip from the blogger at The College Bakery.
I realize it looks like mashed potatoes.  They taste radically different, unless your normal potato seasonings are lemon and almond and sugar.  There was a photo I took that showed the ice cream in scoops in a bowl, but for some reason the lighting was very strange.  Perhaps I will retake that particular photo.


The ice cream has a tendency to become icy rather than creamy, either from my use of 1% milk instead of whole milk, or constantly forgetting to mix it every 30 minutes (or possibly both).  

It also melts rather swiftly.  I think this is because the ice cream is not made from cooked custard, which freezes hard and has a lovely creamy texture.  

Flavorwise, it is perfectly balanced between lemon and almond, but a little too sweet for my liking.  This probably results from skipping the lemon juice.   Next time, I will probably cook the custard instead and either reduce the sugar by about half or add the lemon juice.  

My last note would be that there is finely chopped lemon zest densely scattered throughout the ice cream, which leaves your mouth full of chewy little bits.  I happen to like these bits, but if you do not, keep the lemon zest in as large pieces as possible when making the ice cream mixture.  This is one of those nice times when not having the right tool is useful.  Right before you freeze the ice cream, strain it into another bowl to remove the lemon bits.  The lemon flavor may be slightly diminished, but your ice cream will be pleasantly homogenous (well, as homogenous as icy-creamy-melty homemade non-machine-churned ice cream can be!).

Postscript:  My boyfriend is going to try this recipe, all the way over on the other side of the country.  I'm excited to see how his ice cream turns out! :D

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