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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Frozen Custard Party

We love to entertain, so if it hadn't been Corinna's birthday giving us an excuse, we might have just tagged on to St. Patrick's Day.

Corinna has been trying to cut back on sugar, so instead of a birthday cake, I made frozen custard. I know, that sounds like I decided to serve whiskey instead of tequila but there was a big difference.

My stock cake, the Chocolate-Mayonnaise from Joy of Cooking, it's got 1-3/4 cups sugar in the cake itself, plus confectioner's sugar in the cream cheese frosting. It's exactly the kind of thing that, for whatever reasons send her into a tailspin. What kind of birthday treat is that, to feel like shit the rest of the day?

The frozen custard called for sugar, but I was told by friends online I could cut it by half. But since honey doesn't seem to hit her like refined sugar, I used a cup of my 2002 harvest (I used to keep bees) and no refined sugar at all. Two quarts of heavy cream, two quarts of milk, ten eggs, a quarter cup of vanilla extract. That's it, the whole recipe.

You beat the eggs into a frothy state while heating the rest on the stove slowly to 160ºF. Then you start mixing a half cup or so of the warmed dairy into the eggs at a time (this is called tempering the eggs, if you plunge them straight into the hot, you'll end up with scrambled egg chunks in your ice cream). Once you've got about half the hot mixed into the eggs slowly, reintroduce that to the pot and slowly raise the temperature a bit more, to more like 170ºF. I was looking for it to thicken, which didn't happen at those temperatures, but once it cools overnight in the fridge it'll be quite thick.

Then it's into the ice cream freezer with it. About a half hour later, you have a treat that could spoil you for Ben & Jerry's. Five quarts of it. We actually split the batch in two, half of it was plain vanilla, then we did some with peaches and blackberries in the mix. Should have pureed the fruit, it was like chunks of fruit in the ice cream instead of an overall flavoring like we had in mind, but it was still quite good. Actually with the fruit, I think we ended up with more like six quarts of total product. A bit more than our 18 guests ate.

And that's the best part of this whole deal: the homemade ice cream I grew up on, what I now know is 'Philadelphia Style' turns into a rock when you put the leftover in the freezer. It's awesome right out of the ice cream maker, but I've had my ice cream maker for about 20 years and only used it, I think, twice previously because I so rarely have enough help to eat a whole batch at one go. Eggs contain natural emulsifiers, so the frozen custard (or French Style ice cream if you prefer that term) stays edible in the freezer. Not as good as it is on day one, the fresh out of the cylinder thing is still the best ice cream ever gets, but a week later I still have frozen custard in the freezer and I don't need the Navy to run an icebreaker at it before I can suck on a sliver.

Of course, we didn't just make custard. There was smoked Polish sausage, homemade Kim Chi, and a ton of fruit & veggie tray stuff. Corinna had made a City Market produce run, then I did not realizing all she'd bought. I think I spent about four hours washing, sorting, and cutting fruits and vegetables—and making a Greek seasoned portobello-asparagus-bell-pepper stir fry.

And my nephew really enjoyed the cats. He's a bit allergic (not just to kitty-cats) but he's a fan of animals in general. I think I saw a little 'they make me miserable but it's worth it' in his interaction with Bulldog in particular.

Anyway, it was great to see so many friends. I got a little busy with other stuff and barely took any pictures (for me anyway), so that's why there's so much text and so few photographs for one of my blog posts.

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