Ice cream is pretty great — everyone knows that — and you don’t need me to tell you why. We’ve all got our own ice cream joints and our own favorite flavors and our own cone/dish (both?) preferences. I’m pretty sure we are all ice cream experts. Homemade ice cream, though, is even better than great. It’s like “YES!!!!”, but in a food. Think about that. It’s like how winning the lottery would taste. I do not think that is too strong of a statement.
I promised Kelly a quart of homemade ice cream as her birthday gift. I had recently received an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer for my own birthday a few months prior, and I was having no trouble putting it to good use. I was, however, having a bit of trouble deciding on a flavor of ice cream to make her (“I know! I’ll make ALL the flavors!”). I eventually settled on a gluten-free version of Cookies & Cream Ice Cream. For future reference of gluten-free and gluten-full people alike: Glutino makes some damn good cookies, some of which definitely did NOT make it into the ice cream… sorry Kelly. Compared to your standard glutinous sandwich cookie, the crumb is finer and the texture is toothsome. I may just be converted from my normal Joe-Joes.
Any cookie can be crushed up and mixed into the ice cream in the final stage (thoughts — Milano ice cream? Samoa ice cream — maybe with a salted caramel swirl?) so I figured I’d crush some Glutino Chocolate Sandwich Dream Cookies and give it a go. Plus, I could not remember ever seeing a gluten-free version of cookies & cream ice cream — perhaps some of you out there have? — so I figured there might be a novelty factor that would make it an even better birthday gift (and that would excuse the presentation of the ice cream in my ho-hum Ikea plasticware). My flavor choice was validated when Natalie told me that Cookies & Cream is one of her favorite ice cream flavors, and that she has never before been able to share it with Kelly. I shed a single, joyful tear.
Making ice cream is great fun, and there are a lot of nice foodish moments in the process of making ice cream: the rich smell of the cream, milk and sugar as it heats up, the way that the base thickens precipitously as you approach the end of the cooking process, the increase in volume as the ice cream freezes, and (of course) licking the beater of the ice cream attachment after dispensing your frozen product — and they make the process as worth it as the product. And believe me, the product is worth it. Like, go-out-and-buy-an-ice-cream-maker worth it. Kelly & Natalie will tell you.
What follows is a recipe and a brief rundown for Cookies & Cream Ice Cream (gluten free in this version), from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones.
A few notes about the recipe:
Ingredients — I used organic milk and cream from the Wooster Square Farmers market, and high quality vanilla extract (Nielssen-Massey). This is incredibly important, as the flavors of the cream and vanilla are purely, prominently showcased and are just better with better ingredients. So, for the best ice cream, use the best ingredients you can find.
Cookies — the recipe calls for 1 1/4 chopped chocolate cookies, in pieces 1/4 inch or larger. I personally (and Kelly and Natalie confirmed this) like my Cookies & Cream ice cream the best when the ratio of ice cream to cookie bits is fairly equal (let there be no bites without sizable cookie chunks!) I also prefer large chunks of cookie, but feel free to modify if you are looking for something different (I’m personally not a fan of “cookie flavored” ice cream, with tiny crumbs coloring vanilla ice cream, which is incidentally why I am also disappointed in the Oreo Coolatta at Dunkin Donuts. If you were similarly disappointed, I assure you, this ice cream is waaay better).
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk (here, we used 1%)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups chopped chocolate cookies (in pieces 1/4 inch or larger). Glutino gluten-free sandwich cookies were used here, but any cookie will do according to your preferences. If you are using Glutino, I used all but 4 cookies from the package in the ice cream and achieved an excellent cookie to ice cream ratio).
1. In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, and then whisk in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium (I actually turn it off at this step to give myself time for the next step). You will know that you have approached a bare simmer when there are tiny bubbles forming and breaking around the rim of the saucepan and the whole mixture will swell a little bit (instead of the normal slightly concave meniscus — points for science words!).
3. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture. While whisking the egg yolks continuously, pour a very thin and slow stream of the hot cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream while whisking continuously. In this step, we are gently heating the egg yolks so that they don’t cook and coagulate out of the mixture when we add them to the rest of the heavy cream. The whisking is important because it mixes the hot cream into the egg yolks before it has a chance to cook them.
4. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream left in the saucepan continuously as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
5. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it has thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. We’re not looking for it to thicken too much — we want it to go from the thickness of cream to the thickness of “thinnish pureed soup” but not much further. You’ll know its ready when the mixture coats the back of the spatula, and when you run your finger through the coating, it holds a clear path. (Note: the mixture will thicken very quickly and will continue to thicken even after you have turned the heat off. You don’t want it to thicken past the stage described here, so if you are at all nervous about overcooking it, feel free to cook the mixture on medium low heat. It will take longer, but you will be able to watch the process happen more slowly).
6. Strain the base through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container that you can fit in your fridge. Put the container in an ice bath, wash your spatula to remove any traces of uncooked egg, and use it stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Once it is cool, remove the container from the ice water bath, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. While you wait, chop the cookies — place the whole cookies in a gallon size ziploc bag and use a butter knife (or if you are a daredevil like me, the back of a chef’s knife, very carefully) to gently break them gently into quarters. Store in the bag until ready to use.
7. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. While it is churning, put the container you will use to store the finish project in the freezer. You can either add the cookies in the last minute of churning or mix them in by hand after it comes out of the machine. I prefer to mix them in by hand so they don’t get as broken up. I also typically will scoop out a layer of ice cream into the storage container, then add a layer of broken up cookie, then add a layer of ice cream, then repeat, etc. At the end, give the whole thing a good stir and place it in the freezer. One last note: the ice cream straight out of the machine will be a “soft-serve” consistency; once it has been in your freezer for 3-4 hours it should settle into a hard ice cream consistency.
8. Try not to eat it all in one or even two sittings (and in my case, usually fail). Happy ice cream making!
*Katharine is the studio manager here at Kelly Prizel Photography as well as being the food expert on call.