04 October 2010

Just Vanilla

This is a quickie with no pictures, but two (2!) complete recipes. I'm going to go ahead and assume that you know what vanilla ice cream looks like.

And now you're thinking about ice cream, aren't you? Maybe it's a cone from the shop in town, or something on a stick from the truck, or soft serve from the college cafeteria? Is there chocolate sauce? A cherry on top? Can you feel that dribble on your chin? Need a napkin?

I love ice cream. It is my favorite dessert. If I had to I would give up cake and pie and crumbles and all that in order to keep ice cream in my life. (Note: perfectly ripe fruit is not dessert. It is fruit, and it is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I'm not offering to give up perfect blackberries here. I will even put them on my ice cream.)

My brilliant, gorgeous sisters-in-law gave me an ice cream maker for my last birthday. That this is like giving a spoon and a lighter to a drug-addict is neither here nor there. Now I have an ice cream maker and thus have free access to garbage-free, delicious ice cream at any time (assuming the canister is frozen and I have the ingredients. The canister lives in my freezer.) My first discovery is that unless you have access to high powered industrial ice-cream machines, anything remotely low fat (by which I mean made half and half or less.) will be not quite smooth and creamy enough. Fortunately, there is a solution: frozen yogurt.

My recipe produces a lovely tangy, creamy frozen dessert that melts wonderfully on your tongue, and doesn't hide its yogurt roots the way some commercial fro-yos do. As a bonus, it's super easy to throw together.

Of course, sometimes frozen yogurt isn't what you want. What you (or the birthday boy you're treating) want is the real deal. The real deal is thick and creamy and just sweet enough and makes you wish you had just run a marathon so that you could justify a big bowlful. I don't run marathons (sadly), so I don't make real deal ice cream often. For the birthday boy, I yard-saled an ice cream ball. (It was free! And came with rock salt! How could I not?) The party was at the playground, so I let the kids, and the adults, roll, kick, slide and toss the ball around until it was done, and it worked beautifully. If it's been a while since you had the real thing, it will be a revelation.

Whichever recipe you try, buy good ingredients, because there's no place for the cheap stuff to hide.

Frozen Yogurt

3 cups full fat Greek style yogurt (or strained regular yogurt)
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Stir together and freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. You will end up with soft serve, which isn't such a bad thing, or you can transfer it to a container and allow it to harden in the freezer. You can use low fat yogurt, but it will not be as creamy and scoopable, especially right out of the freezer.

Real deal ice cream
(for just after the marathon, or the playground)

32 ounces heavy whipping cream
¾ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Mix thoroughly and freeze according to manufacturers instructions. This would be a good time to dig that hand-cranked machine out of your parent's basement.

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