Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sundae Soiree

Clockwise from top left: Cinnamon granola, peanuts,
fudge brownies, gingersnaps, bananas, chocolate-
covered pretzels and potato chips, salted caramel sauce

Last week, I made ice cream.

Not one night last week. Not one lazy Sunday afternoon that dragged into evening. I made ice cream all. Week. Long.

Clockwise from top left: tart frozen yogurt with honey
ribbons, coffee custard, vanilla cinnamon custard
I sold a sundae party at my office charity auction last December, and this past weekend the group wanted to cash in. In the auction description, I think I offered one homemade ice cream flavor, two baked goods, and an assortment of toppings. I ended up serving a three-course ice cream tasting menu. My ice cream maker needs 24 hours between batches to freeze. I have never cooked a custard. I made so many full-fat dairy product shopping trips that I thought Trader Joe's would cut me off. But four days of ice cream making was totally worth it for this menu:

Coffee custard with chocolate-covered
pretzels and potato chips, chopped
peanuts, and fudge brownies

Vanilla custard with salted caramel
sauce and gingersnaps

Tart frozen yogurt with honey ribbons,
cinnamon granola, and sliced bananas

Frozen yogurt freezing
(Of course I wrote far more obnoxiously pun-ny descriptions for the actual party menus, but I'll spare you my Dilbert-y corporate jokes.)

Maybe I went a little overboard? There were five guests at this party. Midweek, I started worrying that I didn't have enough food. Yes, I am my mother's daughter.

The frozen yogurt was the biggest surprise: One guest exclaimed after his first bite, "Wow, that's flavorful!" The yogurt had this almost cheesy flavor you don't get from low fat varieties. Contrary to the recipe title, this frozen yogurt didn't have the icy crisp flavor I love in Pinkberry, but its tart flavor and creamy mouth-feel complemented the custards.
Honey ribbons beribboning

Oh, those custards. They turned out way better than I could have dreamed: firm, full-bodied, and heavy. (Seriously, my Tupperwares weighed at least twice the store-bought variety, since the latter has more air pumped in.) The vanilla had a hint of cinnamon (I put 1 1/2 teaspoons into the warm batter before straining it), and the coffee had an undertone of caramel. I schlepped these babies on the subway in bags of ice, and their texture stayed perfect--scoopable but firm.
Many egg yolks were harmed in the making of this soiree

Would I do it again? Frankly, I'm inclined to buy a pint of Ciao Bella and call it a day. But I was surprised at how well the results turned out: A party is a success in my book if I'm left with five moaning guests and hardly any leftovers. Speaking of leftovers: I gave a bit of the coffee custard to my friend H. a few days later, and he e-mailed me this reaction:
"can i cut open the tupperware? i cant get my tongue in far enough to lick the bottom"

Lick the Tupperware Ice Cream
One of the many nights concocting
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups half-and-half
5 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream

  • Stir together the sugar and half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Beat the eggs with a whisk in a separate bowl
  • H's Tupperware
  • When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat. Using a ladle, add half the mixture to the eggs gradually. Whisk the eggs as you do this so that they don't scramble. 
  • Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream.
  • Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. 
  • Remove from heat. 
  • For vanilla cinnamon: Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1.5 tsp cinnamon. For coffee: Add 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • Pour the mixture into a clean bowl through a fine mesh strainer to remove the cooked egg bits and clumps of cinnamon
  • Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down to the surface of the mixture to keep a skin from forming
  • Chill in refrigerator for two hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions
Notes for the Naked:
  • E-mail me. Custard is a beast; you may need help wrangling this one. 
  • Yes, you need a whisk. Yes, you need a strainer. I tried to get by using forks and coffee filters. Don't be a fool like me.
  • I started with four egg yolks per batch, but the mixture didn't seem "thick enough to coat the back of a spoon" (had to Google that instruction a bunch--good visual explanation here) so I ended up adding more.
  • Your freezer has the biggest impact on the ice cream's consistency, and I think I mostly got lucky. I stored the custards in the back surrounded by bags of frozen veggies to keep them firm since they looked a little melty when I checked on them a few hours after preparation. To keep the frozen yogurt from becoming a hard block of ice, as it is wont to do, I made it the morning of the party and stored it at the front of the freezer, which is the warmest part.

Other recipes I used:
Everyday Granola (I added extra cinnamon, a half teaspoon of vanilla, and skipped the nuts and fruit)
A Frozen Yogurt to Rival Pinkberry's (I used one quart of plain, full-fat yogurt, strained for two days, and one pint of plain Greek yogurt)
Caramel Sauce (Added some salt to this. David Leibovitz has great tips on making caramel)
Chocolate Covered Potato Chips and Pretzels (I lost patience dipping the chips into the chocolate, so I ended up adding them all at once and pouring out the mixture in big clumps onto a sheet of parchment paper. I stored this in the freezer and smashed it up into bite-sized pieces before the party)


  1. this is amazing! how much did it sell for?
    (also: PUNS!!! post the puns!!!!)

  2. Thank you! I think I used up all my ice cream karma. The coconut milk one I made this weekend was a total disaster.

    I think it sold for $50. Not totally sure. The puns are a) incomprehensible to non-consultants and b) not very funny to consultants. But I will email you the fancy menu if you want :)