Sunday, February 19, 2006

Making Frozen Cold Stuff

Once upon a time, we used to call ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, whatever "frozen cold stuff", because Rachel didn't know what it meant. I haven't tested the (ice) waters lately, but I'm pretty sure she does now, so we tend to spell or mouth whatever we're talking about now.

At any rate, Dawn's father gave us the Williams-Sonoma Ice Cream cookbook and a gift certificate for an ice cream maker for our anniversary. This to go with the Ice Cream King & Queen bowls he gave us a few years ago. He chose a gift certificate because he didn't want to try to bring the machine up on a plane, but he had one in mind, so I took him to the nearest Williams-Sonoma. There we discovered that KitchenAid makes an ice cream maker attachment that, among others, fits our mixer.

This is very cool. Although it really only takes up marginally less space, it's nice not to have wound up with a whole new independent device. It also makes slightly more at a time than the Cuisinart, if I remember correctly. The idea of not having a new device but expanding the utility of one we already have was very appealing, and is the real reason we settled on it.

I finally got around to trying it out with Rachel when Dawn stayed in So Cal after her sister-in-law's funeral. I came home to Rachel, who'd spent the night with my parents and part of the afternoon with a neighbor. Since Dawn was coming home on her birthday, I decided that Rachel and I should make ice cream. Well, actually, I was planning on some kind of sorbet (no fat), but Rachel picked the Double Chocolate Ice Cream from the Williams-Sonoma book and wouldn't be swayed. No, I didn't try that hard. Only got as far as "well, Rachel, I was thinking of (don't remember which one)".

This actually went pretty well. The ice cream was very tasty, though a little bit gritty. I started to say 'grainy'... I have photography on the brain because I've been culling the digital image collection. I'm down to about 6800 pictures dating to 11/01. Don't know where I started. But I digress. I'm not sure it really qualifies as double chocolate in my book, but I did use Ghirardelli powder and Scharffen Berger 72% (I think) El Carmen bars. Dawn was extremely thrilled and Rachel, I think, actually managed to keep it something of a secret. I think she gave away that we made it, it was brown, and it was cold. Not too bad for not quite 4 1/2!

The problem that did crop up was in the making. In retrospect, I think that I may not have locked the bowl properly. As a result, when the ice cream started to thicken a bit, the blade bound a little bit and made the bowl turn and jump out of its seat. This pulled the blade's little attachment piece off the drive shaft and scraped off some of the inside of the attachment, rendering it now improperly shaped to fit the drive... whooops. Williams-Sonoma were kind enough to exchange it; I hadn't realized then what happened, so all I could tell them was that it jumped unexpectedly.

Our next try, last week, was to make Meyer Lemon Sorbet (also from the W-S Ice Cream book), with lemons from one of the trees in our back yard. I didn't have as many lemons as I needed, so I attempted to cut the recipe to the right proportions. I might have miscalculated the amount of sugar, because it was a little too tart. I also finally figured out that the freezer was turned to its coldest setting, because the sorbet was rock solid and took more than twenty minutes to thaw significantly!

I wish I'd strained this a little too - there was too much of the lemon flesh that wasn't pulp... little bits of the various white of the lemon. I am not sure whether this is because those pieces fit through the strainer when I was juicing the lemons, or if I didn't keep the strainer clean enough and it was overflowing. I suspect the later. It also would probably have been good to slice up the zest somewhat so that I'd have lots of little pieces, rather than a couple of dozen long strips.

Today, we went for Blood Orange Sorbet (from Lindsey Shere's Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook, page 77). Rachel went shopping with my parents yesterday so that Dawn and I could have breakfast and a much needed chance to talk without interruption. Part of getting her to agree to go was to help her make a list of things that she should get. Cheese (cantal and istara, thank you very much! No swiss for this girl, thanks to my parents), strawberries (if there were any good ones available), and blood oranges.

This time, I decided that I was going to use the amounts from the recipe, come hell or high water, so when the really good blood oranges from Monterey Market didn't produce enough juice, I sent Dawn off to get more. The ones she got from Berkeley Bowl (Monterey Market was closed, since it's Sunday) were not as red, though I couldn't say whether that changed the taste significantly. We have more of those left now; I should see how they are.

Anyway, I had the same problem with this that I did with the lemon, as far as getting more than juice and pulp. I will have to get a strainer! I really did want to leave the pulp in, and should again have chopped up the zest, but it wound up not mattering. I didn't want the non-pulp pieces of flesh in there, so I wound up straining it through a flour sifter. Hey, it worked, so don't knock it! I did lose the majority of pulp as well as the zest, but since I hadn't remembered that I wanted to chop up the zest, that part might be OK.

Since the recipe only calls for heating a small portion of the juice (instead of water, which was nice somehow) to melt the sugar, the mixed juice wasn't all that warm, so I decided not to bother chilling it. Especially since the recipe didn't say how much or for how long. That might have been a mistake, because the sorbet stopped getting thicker at a point when it was really still just slushy. It was absolutely delicious, however. It definitely did not come out too tart; in fact, it might even have had a touch too much sugar. It seems as if it might be difficult to adjust the amount of sugar, since you're only melting it with a little bit of the juice initially, and have to mix it all together to find out how sweet it has become...

Will have to think about that. I suppose that when it turns out not sweet enough (because of starting with less sugar) I could take some of the juice, even though it's partially sweetened, and use it to melt some more sugar. Or maybe I'll try it with Stevia next time... that won't even require heating to melt.