Here in Boston it is a balmy 40 degrees F. I'm not wearing a jacket, just my scarf, though I still wear my boots every day. After a brutal early winter, I'm thrilled to be able to leave my heavy winter coat at home. My hands are still cold.
I can imagine no better reason to whip up a batch of frozen custard than the warming late winter weather. Actually, as a New Englander, I don't need a reason to whip up frozen anything. Ice cream is our palliative, our comfort food, our sustenance. We like ice cream a lot. Growing up, we'd sometimes forgo Sunday dinner and instead head out to the nation's first super premium ice cream parlor (Steve's Ice Cream, in Somerville, MA), get in line with the rest of the rabble, and eat Sundaes with mix-ins. It seemed so novel.
I don't eat much ice cream now. After a stint as the obsessive lactose-intolerant ice cream maker at the Four Seasons in Atlanta I had limited access to cheap and easy ice cream. When times were good, I'd splurge on a pint of Capogiro and make it last as long as possible without tasting of the freezer. And causing much stomach upset.
My mom, the diabetic, she loves the ice cream. I keep telling her she's going to lose her feet if she keeps buying -and gobbling up - Cherry Garcia, which she can't seem to get enough of (and I won't touch, for so many reasons).
As a treat for her I made some ice cream. In some circles, that would be considered elder abuse. I'm not intentionally trying to make my mother's diabetes worse, but hey, if she is going to do it anyway, why not let her do it at home where I can monitor her intake. Just like the parents of a teenager.
Right now my ice cream machine is in storage. This rich recipe lends itself pretty well to a low-overrun (the air whipped into ice cream) freeze...ie frozen in the freezer without a machine.
You should make it a day ahead of when you plan to serve it. Don't hold it for too many days. Like gelato, this ice cream will start getting a little gummy after too long.
For vanilla, omit the chocolate. Will be less creamy....
2.5 C Half & Half
1 Vanilla bean (skip this if you don't want to spend the money, but it makes for lovely flavor)
1/2 C Sugar (decrease to 1/3 C for less sweet chocolate custard ONLY)
4 ea Egg yolks
2 T Non fat powdered milk
1 pinch salt
5 oz bitter chocolate, at least 70%, chopped fine
Combine half & half with split and scraped vanilla bean and bring to a simmer. Just before it comes to a simmer, whisk salt, sugar, and egg yolks together. Slowly pour about 1 c of the simmering Half & Half into the egg mixture, whisking until combined. Pour mixture back into pan, reducing heat slightly. Stirring constantly with a WOODEN spoon, Mixture will thicken - do not allow to boil, or mixture will curdle. When the wooden spoon holds a thick sheen once removed from the mixture (called 'nappe'), STRAIN into a metal bowl - if you are making chocolate, have broken up chocolate at the bottom of the bowl and stir until combined. Use an immersion blender if the chocolate is not distributed evenly.
Cool immediately. To speed up cooling, place bowl of custard on a bowl filled with ice, salt, and a little water. Stir until cooled.
Process in ice cream maker or freeze in your freezer. If you use the freezer, scrape the bottom with a spatula and whisk it every hour or so for the first couple hours. It will take about 12 hours to freeze, and should be soft and custardy. If it is icy, allow to thaw a bit and throw it in a food processor and process until smooth.
If it gets too hard, allow it to melt a bit, throw it in a food processor, and process until smooth.
If it is too rich and creamy for you, before you freeze it, increase the amount of Half & Half in it until the custard is the texture you like.