Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

It's summertime and officially ice cream season. If I'm honest, it's ALWAYS ice cream season in our house, but summer always seems a bit more legitimate than, say, February.  My dad used to make ice cream when I was younger so making it always reminds me of him. It was always made in the summer months, and often around the 4th of July if we were home (instead of in Indiana). He used to make strawberry and chocolate and sometimes he would mix it up with peach too. I don't even like peaches, but his homemade peach ice cream was always like heaven.  We had a classic ice cream machine that required adding ice and salt around the edge of the ice cream pot and it always seemed to take hours to make... though that could just have been my impatience.  I use a Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl attachment that we got as a wedding present. My pro-tip for using this is to wrap a clean towel around the top of the bowl to help separate the churning ice cream's exposure to the temperature in your kitchen. It helps it set up faster. We were also given a Cuisinart ice cream maker last year when our friends were moving out of the country. Yes, having 2 ice cream makers makes life even more dangerous.

I've been making ice cream for a few years now but I'm always in search of new and inventive recipes. I tend to rely on my 1978 5 ring red binder Betty Crocker cookbook (FAR superior to the newer versions where the recipes have changed) to start the base for my ice cream. My parents got this when they got married and it was used so much when I was growing up. I found mine on Ebay - and they don't go for cheap either because I think people recognize they're superior!!  I've tried other ice cream recipes but the vanilla ice cream is the one I tend to go back to - at least as far as the ingredient ratios are concerned.  I'd also seen a recipe online from the blog My Big Fat Cuban Family for Dulce de Leche ice cream so I borrowed her method of incorporating the actual dulce de leche into the ice cream.

The third thing I tried was trying to lighten up the recipe. I know you're saying, but you dumped in a whole can of dulce de leche, but the base of the ice cream was in fact lighter - I swear!! I'd been reading ice cream recipes over at Cooking Light and they recommended substituting light or fat free Evaporated milk for whole milk in ice cream recipes and also substituting whipping cream with half and half.  Both of the new substitutions are lighter in calories, but still have a heavy milk weight feel in your mouth so your brain doesn't exactly know what it's missing (the calories - do we ever miss calories?).

A couple of days before you want to make your ice cream (or even a week in advance) make your dulce de leche.  There are TONS of methods to make this that you can find online. I tend to do the lazy/quick version where you just dump a can of sweet and condensed milk into a sauce pan at medium heat and stir CONSTANTLY (all over in the pan - don't miss a side or corner) for 10-15 minutes until it gets a caramel color and covers the back of a spoon.  Put it in a glass bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and put it in your fridge to use later.

The night before you'll need to put your ice cream canister in the freezer (if this is the method you're using). While you're at it you might as well make your ice cream custard. You need to your ice cream base to be cold before you put it into your canister. The custard takes maybe 15 minutes to make.

Here's my recipe:

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream 

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup Fat Free/Light Evaporated Milk
Dulce de Leche
2 cups Half and Half

In a sauce pan at medium low heat mix together egg yolks, sugar, salt and Evaporated milk. Make sure it's well combined before you then spoon in 3/4 of the dulce de leche.  Whisk constantly - you don't want your eggs to cook like scrambled eggs, you want the whole liquidy goodness to heat up slowly and together. You'll also need the dulce de leche to melt into the milky mixture so make sure you keep stirring.  When the mixture starts to thicken and you see small bubbles start to form along the outside edge of the pan is when the ice cream mixture is done. This is essentially the ice cream starting to boiling - but don't let it really boil a ton. This takes a while, but when it's ready it happens fast.

Another obstacle is that the dulce de leche makes the mixture froth a bit, so make sure you stop once in a while and check to see if you can find the bubbles along the outside of the pan.  Look in the middle though. Do you see the caramel colored ice cream base goodness in the middle? Yum.

Once the base starts to thicken you'll want to take it off the stove and strain it thought a strainer if you have one fine enough. If you don't, drape some cheese cloth over your strainer and it'll help catch some of the imperfections in the base. Pour the ice cream base into a container with a lid and put it in the fridge. Once it's cool you'll want to add in the half and half and then put the base back in the fridge to continue to cool.

Once your base is cold you can start to make your ice cream. I recommend you chill it for at least 5 hours or over night. Now it's ICE CREAM TIMEEEE!!! Follow your ice cream maker's directions for making your ice cream. For mine, I put my frozen bowl in place, add the churning mechanism, and turn on the machine. Then I slowly pour in the ice cream base and then cover the top with a towel. In 20 minutes I've got ice cream!!  A few minutes before the ice cream is done, I spooned in the leftover dulce de leche and let it incorporate into the ice cream. (If your dulce de leche is too thick, try stirring in some evaporated milk to thin it out a bit.)  Scoop the ice cream into a freezer safe container and pop it in the freezer for a few hours to harden up a bit more.  The only problem you might have at this point is not eating it all at once.  If your ice cream is a bit hard when you're ready to eat it - let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes or put it in the fridge for 20 minutes before scooping.

Now I know this isn't the greatest photo ever, but we were more focused on getting the yummy goodness in our bellies. Make some and I promise you won't be disappointed. 

What's your favorite ice cream flavor??

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