Peaches bring out the best and worst in us. It’s not us really. It’s the damn peaches. They are so very, very frustrating to work with. They can rot in an hour. They can be rock hard for days, seeming to never want to ripen. Or they can ripen and have very modest flavor. It’s always a gamble.
I love a sliced ripe peach topped with a little sugar. Okay, drenched with sugar — it brings out the juice. My next favorite peachy thing is ice cream, with pure peach flavor.
And surprisingly, it’s hard to do. First there is the issue of the ripeness and sweetness and flavor level of the peaches. Worse, for some reason, peach ice cream recipes are all over the map. A classic ice cream has a custard base — which may intimidate people although it is nothing more than boiling some dairy products and carefully mixing with egg yolks. Dorie’s recipe below gives you the perfect, and quite simple, instructions for carrying out what is really a modest step.
Yet, today, I was googling recipes and saw all sorts of nonsense: like no custard at all. Just puree some peaches, mix in with milk and raw egg and freeze. Yum. I can see those little germs with their scuba gear on just waiting to swim into my intestines.
No, I want my custard, for texture and safety. And I want sweetness. So on the web I found this wonderful idea from Dorie Greenspan. Cook some of your peaches in honey, to achieve lots of sweet flavor. Of course, the custard is made with egg yolks and sugar too so there is sweetness aplenty here.
Because of the peach issues, some flexibility is always a wise idea. Our peaches today were not hard, but they did not blossom with flavor. So we added the juice of one lemon. If you have serious “underflavor” problems, you can add some peach jam or preserves. Every time is going to be different, but this recipe gives you the foundation you need for success.
And how did this one come out? Great texture with a mild, not overpowering, peach flavor. It’s fine to enjoy by itself, or to pair with a slice of pound cake or angel food cake.
Go ahead. Master making a custard, and playing with your peaches.
Honey Peach Ice Cream
Yield: 1 quart
- 4 large ripe peaches
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 large egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Chop 2 of the peaches into 1/2 inch chunks and toss them in a small saucepan. Add the honey and bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until the peaches are soft (about 10 minutes). Scrape the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree. Set aside.
Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and sugar together until blended in a heatproof bowl. Drizzle in a bit of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs (making sure they don’t curdle). Slowly add the rest of the milk mixture. Pour the milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan and heat while stirring until it thickens. Remove from the heat, pour into a heatproof bowl, and stir in the vanilla and peach puree.
Refrigerate the custard until chilled. Scrape into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, dice the remaining 2 peaches and add them just before the ice cream is thickened. When the ice cream is ready, pack into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours until it is firm enough to scoop.
Source: Dorie Greenspan in Baking: From My Home to Yours
There are certain days that haunt us all for the rest of our lives. A tragedy, a death, a monumental world event. You remember where you where, what you thought, how others around you reacted.
I always remember the morning after I proposed to Suzen. Not the night I proposed, which was a romantic dinner. No, the morning after. I slept in, woke up, and found she was not in our bed. I went downstairs. I heard her in the kitchen.
Chaos. There was a garbage bag open on the floor. The refrigerator door was open, and Suzen was reaching in and removing items.
“Now that we are getting married,” she began, and then she tossed away all my heavy cream and most of the butter. “You’re going to clean up your act.”
A quarter century has past. No, she did not win. Neither did I. We compromised. We eat well, but try to find flavor in healthy ways.
For example, perfect ice cream with no eggs. No eggs? No custard? How can it be? Great ice cream means rich. Well, this recipe is not poor. There is still plenty of heavy cream and milk, but it is egg free. And it’s wonderful to taste. Oh, did I mention the corn flavor?
Yes, this is Sweet Corn Ice Cream, from the exciting new book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I’ve already posted her Beet and Mascarpone Ice Cream. This corn ice cream is equally different and delicious. There is a subtle corn flavor, one that is light and sweet thanks to the market stand corn we used.
We did a taste test of this ice cream on several colleagues — without telling them the actual flavor. The loved the ice cream at first bite, but they had querulous faces as they searched for what to call it. Corn was not on the tip of their tongues.
Jeni’s recipes are real contributions to the dessert world. New flavors that you will chuckle about at first, then savor when you taste. And new techniques: using a cornstarch slurry and a cream cheese component to obtain a smooth custard-like texture.
Over this book, the only disputes Suzen and I have are about which recipe to try next. I am all for the Salty Caramel but she’s ready to do the Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Torched Marshmallows. I guess I will compromise. I love her. I love marshmallows. Don’t ask me to choose.
[Jeni suggests that you make this ice cream by layering in a Black Raspberry Sauce when you scoop the ice cream out of your maker for final freezing. We did not do that, curious to test the pure corn flavor. We did make the sauce [blogging it tomorrow!], but served it on the side.]
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 ear sweet corn, husked [Note: you want it sweet and fresh!]
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 ½ ounces [3 tablespoons] cream cheese, softened
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
You will need four metal bowls: one large one for the corn, a small one for cornstarch slurry, a medium sized one for the cream cheese, and a very large one for the ice bath.
For the corn, slice the kernels from corn cob, then “milk” the cob scraping it with back of your knife to extract the liquid. Reserve the kernels and liquid. [Note: you may want to do this step all in one large bowl, with enough room so you don’t hit the side of the bowl and cut yourself. Those were my instructions from my loving wife.]
For the ice cream, make the slurry in a small bowl. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch and stir with a spoon or small whisk to make a smooth slurry.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.
Fill the largest bowl with a mix of ice and water to form an ice bath. [Note: if there are two of you doing this, one person can cook the ice cream while the other makes this ice bath just before use to preserve the ice on a hot summer day.]
To form the ice cream base, combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, reserved corn kernels and corn milk, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Removed from the heat and force the mixture through a sieve into the bowl you used to reserve the corn kernels. When you force the mixture, you will leave behind the corn cases and possibly some kernels that have not opened. [Note: what does not go through the sieve should go into a small bowl. Add salt and pepper and snack away. When was the last time you had corn cooked in milk and heavy cream? Suzen is not aware I did this behind her back.]
Return the mixture that has passed through the sieve to the saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. [Another note: we’ve used this technique twice and found takes us about 2 minutes to see real thickening.]
You are about to mix that hot liquid with the cream cheese. Ideally, this is a two person job. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary until cold, about 30 minutes.
Big note: Suzen and I were a bit concerned about putting that hot liquid immediately into a plastic bag. So we floated the metal bowl we used for the cream cheese in the larger ice bath bowl. After 10 minutes, the mixture had seriously cooled. Then we poured the liquid into the plastic bag, added ice to the ice bath, and submerged the carefully sealed plastic bag.
Finally, freeze the mixture using your ice cream mixer. Let the mixture churn until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a container, press a sheet of parchment paper directly over the top surface to prevent freezer burn, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer, usually the back wall, until firm, at least 4 hours.
Source: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.