Monday, January 29, 2007

Ice Cream for Your Health

I really can't think of any good reason not to make ice cream at home. No appliance could possibly be more widely-owned but under-utilized than the ice cream maker. So that's an excuse you probably don't have. Nor could there be more than handful of humans who could honestly claim to not have an affinity for the frozen custard that we consume in almost unspeakable quantities.
Now, hold on. I know what you are about to say. But its not true. For most of us -- yes you too, there -- making our own ice cream has a net positive impact on our health. "Mais Non! How can this be Monsieur le BackBou?" you ask. But the answer is simple. The very act of preparing a classic ice cream recipe of necessity changes a person's relationship with the product. My typical one quart recipe goes like this -- 6 eggs yolks, 1 cup whole cream, two cups half and half and 2/3 cup sugar. Ever since I started making ice cream (which, not coincidentally was shortly after I got married) the notion of consuming something close to a pint approaches the impossible. And this, I will tell you, represents a significant change in my ice cream eating habits. Now perhaps you were never the gourmand that I was, but I'm willing to bet a little quality time in the kitchen with your ice cream maker will change your relationship with the stuff.
But wait, that's not all. It is also really easy to make, much less expensive than Ben & Jerries and extraordinarily gratifying in every respect. Basically, you just cook the half and half (or other dairy), sugar and yolks over a double boiler until it thickens some, then you cool it, add some whole cream, and then after some refrigerator time you toss it all into the ice cream maker. Of course, there are the embellishments -- melted chocolate, coffee beans, vanilla, hazelnuts, Oreos and what have you, but they add no complexity to the process.
The real reason to make ice cream, of course, is to enjoy the end product. A simple homemade vanilla bean ice cream is its own reward.