Sunday, January 27, 2008

Orange Vanilla (Cornstarch) Ice Cream, Bittman Style

I know! I know! I've been horrible about posting. No excuse, but it's the new year, and we're back from traveling to Hawaii and to the mountains, and I'm ready to settle in and cook.

And really, we're working on cooking healthier meals, after the obvious holiday indulgence. I'll post later about creamy low fat vegetable soups, thanks to the new immersion blender I'm loving. I also have thoughts about the local food movement, and the dilemmas I've been occasionally encountering around eating well, eating organic food, or eating locally. Also a post for another day.

Today is ice cream. It's pouring, and 38 degrees, but we still wanted ice cream. I always want ice cream. My mom gave me a new countertop freezer for my birthday, the kind with an insert that you keep in the freezer, and I wanted to give it a try. I'd been hearing about Mark Bittman's cornstarch variation of the traditional egg-based custard recipes, and that had me very curious.

You can read the full article Bittman wrote about this recipe. In short, cornstarch is cooked with milk or cream and sugar, then flavorings are added, the mixture is chilled and then frozen. Since there are no eggs, the ice cream is lower calorie, and the flavor is theoretically cleaner, less "eggy".

My favorite homemade ice cream ever is the Orange Cream Deam from the Ben and Jerry's recipe book, which is a vanilla ice cream with orange juice concentrate blended in. I thought we'd try something similar here, and it worked very well. This ice cream is unbelievable smooth and creamy, without the normal graininess that you expect with homemade ice cream. I actually think I prefer the more textured traditional recipe, but this is pretty damn fantastic (and only about 20 minutes of hands on work).

Orange Vanilla Ice Cream

*2 1/2 cups milk, cream or half-and-half (I used about 1 cup cream, the rest milk); divided
*1/2 cup sugar
*pinch of salt
*3 TBS corn starch
*1 tsp vanilla
*about 1/4 c. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (more or less to taste) but cold .

-Mix 2 cups of the milk/cream, the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to steam.
-Meanwhile, mix the remaining milk/cream and the corn starch with a fork until no lumps remain.
-Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, increase heat to medium, and heat until it barely boils, stirring constantly. As soon as it begins to boil, turn heat all the way down and continue stirring for another five minutes or so, until nice and thick.
-Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
-Leave in sauce pan and place pan in a bowl filled with ice and water (make sure, of course, that your water isn't so deep that it overflows into the custard). Let it chill, stirring frequently, until it's cold all the way through. If you have more time, you can chill in the fridge, but don't forget to stir often or a skin will form.
-When chilled, stir in the thawed but cold orange concentrate. Start with just a couple of tablespoons and taste as you go.
-Pour into your freezer and chill per instructions.

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