Sunday, August 5, 2012

Boozy Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

This has been the summer of ice cream. I love good ice cream, but commercial ice cream isn't so good. Way too much sugar, not enough fat and cream - and then there are the stabilizers, preservatives, thickeners and so on. Who wants to eat that? Well, I have to admit that in matters of ice cream and resistance of crappy chemical food, I can't say I've generally had the high ground. I've always wanted to make good home made ice cream, but it was never good enough to justify the effort.

After doing a bunch of research, I decided that my ice cream maker wasn't up to snuff - that it didn't put enough air into the cream while it was churning. So I kind of gave up.

But then, I went to a lovely dinner at Michael and Elme's house and they had superb homemade ice cream. Their secret? The Kitchen Aid stand mixer ice cream maker attachment. I bought one immediately, and it's been life changing.

My favourite Haagen Dazs is Dulce de Leche. I thought it was wonderful until I invented this one. I made 4 batches in a row and it's really, really good. Sweet, caramelly, creamy, with just a dash of alcohol to keep it from being cloying.

About Dulce de Leche: DdL is a sweet prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar. You can buy dulce de leche if you live in a Latin community with really good stores. Otherwise, make it yourself. Don't buy the Hershey brand - way too sweet! It's so easy to make that there is no reason buy it.

You need to make the dulce de leche the day before you want to make the ice cream. It isn't a lot of work at all, but it takes a while. I like the slow cooker method, but there are alternatives: Check out this link. Buy two cans of sweetened condensed milk. For the record, PC brand sweetened condensed milk makes way better than DdL than Eagle Brand. No idea why. I've used both and was shocked by the diference.

About the cocoa: If you live in Toronto, I strongly recommend that you make the journey to Soma in the Distillery District and buy some of their cocoa. I promise that if you've been using grocery-store cocoa (who hasn't?) all your life, it will be a revelation!

better pictures to come!
About cream: Did you notice about three years ago that the shelf life of cream suddenly drastically increased? The wonders of ultra high temperature pasteurization. And the addition of guar gum, carageenan and various other thickeners because UHT pasteurization seems to remove all the creaminess from cream by breaking down the proteins. If you really want sublime taste, texture and food value, try to find some cream that has been pasteurized the old fashion way. Having said that, normal cream is hard to find, and this ice cream is out of this world, even with UHT cream.

Boozy Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

3 cups table cream (18%)
2 cans evaporated milk, converted into Dulce de Leche
2 egg yolks
teaspoon vanilla
couple splashes of Brandy (you could use Bourbon, Frangelico or Amaretto if you have it on hand)
couple more splashes of cream
one teaspoon good quality cocoa
one tablespoon chilled butter cut into four pieces
pinch of cinnamon
couple shakes of salt

1. Make the ice cream base: You started with two cans of dulche de leche. Put the entire contents of 1 can, plus half of the second can in a medium sauce pan (or put it all in a measuring cup, and use 3/4 of the total amount, reserving the final 1/4 for boozy caramel ripple). Add the cream and a shake or two of salt, turn on the heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil (more than a simmer, but less than a rolling boil). While heating, whisk the mixture to break up the DdL and encourage it to dissolve into the cream.

(If you don't mind using more dishes, you can use your blender to mix the dulce de leche with half the cream before heating.)

2. Keep the mixture at this very low boil for as long as you have patience to stand there and stir it - up to 15 minutes. This evaporates out some of the water in the cream and improves the texture of the final product.

3. Put the egg yolks in a smallish bowl. Slowly add a ladle full of DdL and cream mixture, whisking it into the eggs. Add a second ladle full the same way, then stir the eggs back into the pot.

4. Bring back to a simmer for two more minutes whisking, whisking, whisking. Make sure you get in the corners!

5. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Cool on the counter, then put in the fridge to chill over night.

6. Make the boozy caramel ripple: Put the remaining Duche de Leche in a small saucepan. Add a generous dollop of brandy, turn the heat on high and whisk to dissolve the DdL in the brandy. Add about the same amount of cream as you did brandy, the cocoa, cinnamon and shake or two of salt.

We're going for a thick sauce-like consistency here. If its too runny, cook it until it thickens a bit. If its too thick, add a little more cream.

When you are satisfied with the consistency (and you don't have to be too exact here), take the sauce off the heat, stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, two tablespoons brandy, then whisk in the butter one piece at a time. If you want to, buzz the sauce with a mix master or whiz it in your magic bullet to make it perfectly, gorgeously smooth and frothy. Chill overnight.

Next day, freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

When you remove it from the ice cream maker, the ice cream will be about the consistency of soft serve. Pack 1 third into your freezer storage container. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the sauce (use your judgement - how much depends on how much you made). Pack in the second third and more sauce. Don't worry if you don't use all the sauce. Pack in the rest of the ice cream. Freeze in coldest part of the freezer for about 4 hours.

Eat! mmmm...

This ice cream is divine by itself, but if you are in the mood for something truly decadent, make a little spicy chocolate sauce by melting 2 ounces of good quality bittersweet chocolate into 2/3 cup of cream and adding a quarter teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Cut up some strawberries. Serve a scoop of ice cream, pour chocolate over, and sprinkle the strawberries.

Oh, and there is probably some left over boozy dulce de leche sauce. It makes a wonderful and decadent addition to coffee. Enjoy!


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