One of the best things about making ice cream at home is that of all the many foods you can cook, it is both very forgiving and very open to experimention. Once you learn a small set of basic techniques you can let the mad scientist in you run wild.
Last night I wanted to make some ice cream for dessert. After looking in my refrigerator I saw that I had some half and half, some buttermilk and some Meyer Lemons on hand. Also the idea of a caramel appealed to me at that moment. So I went to iloveicecream.net (what an awesome website! 🙂 ) and found two recipes I could mix and match from to make ice cream from what I had on hand.
I primarily used the Burnt Orange recipe to see how to make a citrus caramel and the Buttermilk recipe to find out that the buttermilk is added in after the custard is heated up on the stove. So here is what I came up with. Note this ended up being a relatively low fat, low sugar recipe.
- 1 Large Meyer Lemon zested and juiced. Try to have around ¼ - ½ a cup of juice.
- ½ cup of table sugar
- ¾ cup of half and half
- ¾ cup of buttermilk
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Combine half the sugar, and the 2 egg yolks and salt in heat proof, medium sized bowl. It needs to be big enough to hold the whole recipe.
- Combine zest and half and half in a saucepan and bring almost to a boil. Stir so that mixture doesn't burn. Remove from heat.
- Now we are going to make a simple caramel from the juice and sugar. In a heavy bottomed saucepan add half the sugar to the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over a medium low heat. Let the mixture boil until it starts to brown, swirl the mixture occasionally. I found that I had to add a tablespoon of sugar after awhile to kick it over the point of caramelizing. Once its starts to brown it does so quickly, so start stirring with a fork. You want to go for at least an orange brown color, but brown it as deeply as you wish, just keep it moving so that it doesn't burn. When you are finished remove from heat.
- Slowly add about ½ cup of the half and half/zest mixture to the caramel, whisking vigorously. Mixture will bubble and steam. when things calm down, add the rest in a thin steady stream, continuing to whisk. I prefer to use a fork for all this whisking as there isn't enough custard to fully engage a whisk. Return the caramel to the stove and cook over a very low heat until everything is well mixed and hot.
- Remove mixture from heat and in a series of small trickles pour into the bowl containing the egg yolks, whisking vigorously. The point here is to combine everything slowly enough so that the eggs don't overcook into scrambled eggs. If you are leery of this process you can use a more traditional tempering method.
- Pour the combined mixture back into the caramel saucepan and cook over a medium low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a reliable instant read thermometer is good. Do NOT let it come even close to boil.
- Pour mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.
- If you have a freezer/compressor ice cream maker you can pour the mixture into it as soon as you would like and freeze as per the manufacturers instructions. One pint wont take more than 20 minutes or so to freeze.
- If you have freezer bowl style maker, refrigerate the mixture until its cold, at least 2 hours, before making. For other pre-chilling methods click here.
So how did it turn out? Well I wont be entering any ice cream competitions with this recipe but it did the job, everyone forced to try it (little persuasion needed), liked it. I found the citrus caramel and buttermilk flavors worked very well together as I had hoped. Mission accomplished.
This ice cream freezes hard after an extended period in the freezer. Microwave for 10 seconds to soften before scooping and serving.
Though I found the recipe plenty sweet for my taste, if you have strong sweet tooth that would be the first thing I would suggest changing. Maybe add a 1/4 to 1/3 cup more sugar. Next I think I would try heavy cream in place of the half and half or maybe add tablespoon of cornstarch to smooth out the texture a bit more.
A good video from finecooking.com on making caramels.