Beer and Ice Cream, Perfect Together
I liked this post on making beer ice cream by Louise Emerick on the America’s Test Kitchen Feed blog. She has a experimented with a number of different styles of beer gives suggestions accordingly. A general conclusion is that beers that emphasis malt rather than hops make the best ice creams. Hoppy beers get bitter when cooked. This matters here because of a feature of the recipe that is unique among beer ice creams that I am familiar with. Louise simmers the beer to reduce out some of the water and alcohol, so when she says avoid hops heavy beers there is a good reason.
She also points out that you need to make sure to use beers that have and alcohol by volume (ABV) of under 11%. This recipe uses 5 ounces of beer ( a little over half a cup) , 2 cups of heavy cream and no milk. Even though the beer is reduced by simmering Louise is concerned that you might end up with to much alcohol for the ice cream to freeze if you use a beer with a higher ABV. Its an interesting question, I would have thought reducing the beer on the stove would remove most, if not all the alcohol, but she has made a number of batches of this so her advice is best followed.
How to Not Temper Eggs
The beer ice cream version she details is egg custard based and what I really loved about this post was the way she tempers the eggs. She doesn’t. Louise just combines the sugar, dairy, egg yolks in a pan, whisks them together and brings the mix up to temperature slowly, constantly stirring with a soft spatula to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. The big reason this works is because she uses a good instant read thermometer. So when the temperature hits 180° F she intermediately pours the mix through a strainer over a bowl sitting in an ice bath. Duh! Why the heck haven’t I thought of this? This is the simplest technique imaginable. Now IMHO 180° F is living dangerously, I normally go to 170°, but she says does it all the time without a problem. It raises an interesting question though, how if at all, does cooking to a different temperature, somewhere between 165° – 180° effect the final flavor of the custard?
But the good new is as long as you have a good instant read thermometer (essential) , a heavy bottom pot or pan, and make sure to keep the mix moving while you are cooking, there is no reason to mess around with tempering eggs. Remember food keeps cooking after its off the burner, you have to stop this process by pouring the mix out of the hot pot and into a bowl or container sitting in an ice bath (even cold water will work).
Even if you don’t plan on making this ice cream, I hope you read her post just for the tempering technique. FYI you can read the post by just clicking below, however to see the actual recipe details, America’s Test Kitchen makes you sign up with either your Facebook login or by giving them a name and email address. The first time I have seen this on a cooking site.