It’s no secret that my favorite food is ice cream. I grew up with a steady supply of Nerds blizzards, root beer floats made by my Opa, and trips to Northfield for bubblegum ice cream cones with my Grandma who was so patient, she held a napkin of my sticky, discarded bubblegum bits. (Chewing gum and licking ice cream is a multitasking feat I never mastered…) I attended a college with an ice cream endownment in a city that has an all-you-can-eat ice cream charity event every summer. I’ve been known to skip dessert at a nice restaurant to finish my meal with Dairy Queen instead. I can recommend my favorite ice cream shops from East Coast to West: Toscinini’s, Christina’s, and JP licks in Boston (just 3 of many); UConn Dairy Bar in Storrs, CT; vanilla and blueberry soft serve at CJ’s Big Dipper in Bar Harbor, ME; vanilla and orange twisted soft serve at Mixon’s fruit farm in Bradenton, FL; Jeni’s in Cleveland, OH; Chocolate Shoppe, Sassy Cow, and Michael’s Frozen Custard in Madison, WI; Molly Moon’s in Seattle, WA; and Bi-rite Creamery in San Francisco, CA.
Last week while driving to New York with my dad to visit my brand new nephews, I took an internet survey that asked a bunch of questions about my health, medical history, and habits in order to predict my longevity and offer suggestions to add years to my life. The results went kinda like this:
Yea! You’re going to live to 94! Sweetness!
+ 2 yrs if you work 5 days/week instead of 6 (can I get a Dr’s note to that affect, please?)
+ 0.5 yrs if you increase your calcium intake (fair enough, I know I don’t drink enough milk)
+ 0.5 yrs if you decrease caffeinated beverages (…really unlikely for the next few months…)
+ 1 yr if you cut your sweets intake from every day to once or twice a week
94 yrs of life are totally not worth living with only 1 day of sweets a week, and the quality of that extra year from 94 to 95 is far from guaranteed. Why make such a huge sacrifice now for what could be a year of bed rest and bad daytime TV? No thank you; no sir. Ice cream is an everyday food (not twice a day; everything in moderation, please!)*. Plus, it has calcium; and based on those same survey results, I probably shouldn’t cut out important sources of calcium in my diet!
To complement my liberal ice cream habit, I’ve accumulated various kitchen items including: numerous small bowls and tiny spoons*, 3 cookbooks, 4 ice cream scoops*, and the ice cream making attachment for my kitchen aid. Don’t get the wrong idea. Making ice cream at home is not economical. You can buy a quart of Edy’s for the cost of the pint of cream and other ingredients you’ll need to make it at home. Also, the slightly prohibitive planning and time required for homemade ice cream means I can’t whip up a batch on a whim.* This sadly demotes my ice cream maker to one of the least used pieces of kitchen paraphernalia I own; but I wouldn’t give it up in a second, and I don’t begrudge the space it takes up in my tiny kitchen or freezer because homemade ice cream can be divine.
With the weather tending towards hot and humid last week, I pulled the ice cream bowl down from the shelf, wiped it out, and stashed it in the freezer. I turned the temperature control knob even colder (at the expense of any fresh vegetables or fruit in my fridge that invariably turn into ice cubes when I turn the dial past 5) to make sure the bowl would freeze enough, and headed to the co-op for cream. Mr R was in San Francisco this weekend making me jealous as he got his weekly fruit quota sampling apricots at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, but he helped inspire this flavor combination.
Using the buttermilk ice cream recipe from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones as a starting point, I deepened the flavor a bit with brown sugar, then swirled in honey baked nectarines and Biscoff cookie crumbs. The combination is compelling and delicious. It will linger at the back of your mind until you find yourself scooping seconds into your bowl.
The sweet and summery flavor of nectarines is concentrated by baking and contrasts with the tanginess of the buttermilk custard. Hints of molasses and spice from the brown sugar and biscoff crumbs add a complementary, rich flavor and a bit of crunch to keep the tangy sweetness from stealing the show. I now sincerely apologize to everyone who doesn’t have an ice cream machine.
Buttermilk Ice Cream with Honey Baked Nectarines and Biscoff Cookie Crumbs (adapted from “Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones” by Hoogerhyde, Walker, and Gough) Nectarines aren’t in season? Can’t find Biscoff cookies? This recipe is perfect for improvisation. Any stone fruit (peaches, plums, cherries, etc.) could be swapped in for nectarines; and I debated using gingersnaps, shortbread, and Effie’s salty/sweet corncake crumbs before settling on Biscoff. Buttermilk Ice Cream 1 1/2 Cups heavy cream 1/2 Cup 2% milk 3 egg yolks 6 Tbsp vanilla sugar 6 Tbsp light brown sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 Cup buttermilk 1 package Biscoff cookies Honey Baked Nectarines 2 small, ripe nectarines 1 Tbsp honey 1 Tbsp light brown sugar a pinch of sea salt
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl briefly then add the vanilla sugar and whisk until smooth. Set aside. Place the cream, milk, and brown sugar in a pot over medium-high heat. (Preferably a heavy bottomed pot that conducts heat evenly and a gas stove. If, like me, you have neither, just be careful with the heat and watch everything closely). Stir the mixture frequently until it just comes to a simmer (there will be little foamy bubbles forming at the edges of the pot). Remove from the heat.
Now comes the tricky part. Have someone hold the bowl of egg yolks or put it on a non-slip surface. Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks WHILE WHISKING, then repeat with another 1/2 cup. This is called tempering the yolks. It keeps the yolks from scrambling on contact with the hot liquid because no one wants scrambled egg ice cream. Pour the tempered yolks into the pot with the cream and return the pot to medium heat. Stir constantly for 5-10 minutes until the mixture visibly thickens. It will feel more viscous as you stir and it will coat the back of a spoon. Draw a line on the spoon with your finger. If the line holds, the custard is ready; if the custard runs down the back of the spoon, keep stirring. Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl to remove any curdled bits. Whisk occasionally as the custard cools, then press a piece of cling wrap directly to the surface of the custard (to prevent a skin from forming) and place in the fridge to chill.
While the custard is chilling, make the nectarines. Rinse and cut into 1/2 inch chunks two small or one large nectarine. Mix the fruit with the brown sugar, honey, and salt. Bake at 375° until the nectarines have turned to mush and the sugar is bubbly and slightly caramelized. Remove, let cool, then puree until smooth.
When the custard is fully chilled, whisk in the vanilla and buttermilk. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, pre-chill your container in the freezer and smash a handful or two of cookies in a plastic bag with a rolling pin (or wine bottle, or ice cream scoop, etc.). Once the ice cream is done, scoop half of it into the container. Dot with spoonfuls of nectarine puree and sprinkle liberally with cookie crumbs. Cover with the remaining ice cream then add more fruit and cookies. Using a table knife, swirl everything together then cover and place in the freezer to firm.
Lick the bowl.
*Even Michael Pollan, a master at making strict rules about personal food consumption, believes you can eat as much junk food as you want as long as you make it yourself.
*Don’t ask why, i just hate eating ice cream with normal sized spoons. I even save the little taster spoon at scoop shops so I can skip the big spoon at the checkout.
*Yes, I actually have 4 scoops. I will be impressed if you have more.
*Probably a good thing I can’t make a pint of ice cream at a moment’s notice since it doesn’t come in 1/2 fat or double churned varieties…