I’ve never been one of those people for whom the sun must be shining in order to eat ice cream. In fact, I could (and sometimes do) happily eat it everyday; in my mind, it falls into the same category as books: too many books…too many flavors…too little time. Over the years, I’ve slowly been working my way through some of the more extreme ice cream flavors (olive oil gelato, basil ice cream, corn and candied bacon…Yes, I have indeed tried all of these flavors) and with varying degrees of adoration. But, alas, even one lifetime could never be enough to sample them all. Though it’s a fact that I’ll probably die trying. 🙂
This is why on a rainy Tuesday this past week, despite the fact that I ought to (like every other food blogger out there) be eating lots of vegetables and participating in some kind of yearly cleanse (but this is the year of saying “to hell with shoulds!” So I will happily march to the beat of my own drum), I decided to pull out the ice cream maker’s instruction booklet and get down to business. After all, this is something I had been dying to own for months, maybe even years. It was only my recent development of frugality (something that probably comes with age and maturity), as well as my deep-seated belief that making ice cream was still a tricky enterprise, that had probably kept me from achieving ice-cream making glory sooner. As I’ve discovered with many things, however, it’s never too late to make up for lost time.
The most difficult question facing me was, which flavor should be my first? I was eagerly eyeing a recipe for Cinnamon Ice Cream in The Perfect Scoop, but then, given my time constraints, I decided that a French-style ice cream, made with a custard base, would take too long. Perhaps this was partly due to laziness on my part, but rainy days have a way of making you take shortcuts…In any case, I recalled an article that Melissa Clark had written back in August and decided that egg-free, American-style ice cream was the way to go. After all, given the predominance of eggs in ice cream, I can’t remember the last time I would have had this kind of ice cream…if I ever even did. Based on the flavors she suggested and what I had in the cabinet, I felt that Maple Spice was the way to go. But then, when I went to the grocery store in the rain with the intention of buying maple syrup and somehow it slipped my mind (old age is cruel), upon arriving home I determined that honey could easily replace maple syrup and the idea for Spiced Honey Ice Cream was born!
It was kind of glorious and a lot of fun to make. After the initial part of letting the spices steep in the cream, mixing all of the dairy products together and then putting it into the fridge, you’ve got a lot of time on your hands. Enough time to turn to another project: organizing the many recipes you’ve cut out of magazines over the years…to turn them into a handwritten cookbook. That is, once the beautiful one you found in this store on Etsy arrives.
Projects aside, another reason I had planned to make ice cream, despite the obvious one, was that a good friend was coming over to finish watching “Dollhouse,” the amazing Joss Whedon show that was cancelled prematurely. TV watching requires snacks and good ones at that. Even though ice cream won’t ever fall into the “healthy foods” category–and especially when you watch yourself pour a pint of heavy cream into the mixture; oh well!–it’s soothing and happy and fun. The texture of this ice cream in particular is also quite light– creamy and soft. We topped ours with a mixture of walnuts and pecans and, in honor of one of Dollhouse’s more complex characters, called it “The Alpha Sundae.” It’s perfect for an evening that turns into a slumber party and, especially when you take the lingering taste of the cardamom and the soft flavor of the honey into account, oddly perfect for a rainy day.
Spiced Honey Ice Cream
Yields about 1 quart
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s “Egg-Free Ice Cream Lets Flavors Bloom”
For the base:
1/2 cup honey, preferably of a good quality (I used Virgin Organic Multi-flower Honey)
2 cups heavy cream
6 cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1 4-inch cinnamon stick
A few dashes of salt
1 cup whole milk
-In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce honey, about 10 minutes. **I will say here that, while I used 1/2 cup of honey, I think that 1/3 cup would have achieved a similar, yet slightly more subtle, flavor. It all depends on how rich you like your flavors.
-Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer one cup cream with cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and salt, stirring occasionally until cream begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. Allow to stand, off heat, for 20 minutes.
-Strain into a bowl, discarding spices. Stir in reduced honey, remaining cup cream and the milk. Transfer bowl to refrigerator or set into an ice bath to chill.
-When cold, pour into bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a container and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, or in refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. **Even having done this, the ice cream was, initially, still quite soft. This may, however, just be the result of custard-less ice cream.