This post originally appeared August 19, 2018, on the Chile Today Hot Tamale! website. (www.chiletodayhottamale.net)
Once upon a time, I was the very best customer for Breyers Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream in the world. That ice cream is not only delicious, but it also provides a velvet-like feel to the tongue. It is, in short, the perfect taste treat.
I haven’t bought any in close to two years now, because two Christmases ago, my step-daughter gave me an ice cream maker. I brushed up on the physics and chemistry of making ice cream, and came up with a recipe that is absolutely delicious. It lacks that feel that the Extra Creamy provides, but the ice cream is excellent, and, if you are into the all-natural thing, the ingredients will make you happy: 4 cups of heavy whipping cream, 3 cups of Half and Half, 1 ½ cups of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract from Madagascar vanilla beans. Use those ingredients in the ratios provided above, follow the specific instructions for your particular ice cream maker, and you will move a floor or two closer to heaven.
A year or so ago, I tried to branch out. It didn’t work too well. Have you ever had homemade peach ice cream? If you have, you know that the chunks of peaches get frozen, and tend to ruin the texture of the ice cream. I had a brilliant idea: why not use a peach jam instead of cut up sections of peaches. Better still, why not use Chile Today Hot Tamale’s Georgia Peach Pepper Jam (which you can purchase here)? The advantage to using a jam is that the chunks of peaches are smaller, and more homogeneously distributed throughout the jam, which gives it a good chance of being distributed throughout the cream. And the nice thing about using George Peach Pepper Jam is that the casein from the milk products will temper the capsaicin from the pepper, resulting in a nice taste without a painful burn.
That experiment didn’t work out very well, as the jam settled to the bottom of the ice cream maker. Clearly I needed to use a blender on the jam before adding it to the cream. But before I could try to do that experiment over, another one occurred, which produced great results.
A couple of weeks ago, some of the kids and one grandchild came for a visit, and I prepared for the visit by making a batch of ice cream. But I did something different that changed the feel of the ice cream. You know how it is impossible to sweeten iced tea with sugar? The tea is so cold that the sugar just doesn’t dissolve. This began to worry me, as I was adding sugar to cold whipping cream and cold Half and Half. Was I getting the maximum sweetness out of the sugar? So I borrowed Kathy’s monster blender.
Most mornings, Kathy blends up some sort of concoction which, I suppose, goes by the name of “smoothie.” It is a mix of milk, honey, frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, etc.), and probably some other healthy stuff I don’t want to know about. In order to break the frozen fruit down into a nice smooth drinkable mixture, she uses a blender that is nearly industrial strength. Nothing frozen can survive the high speed rotation of the blades. It occurred to me that this would be an ideal way to disperse the sugar: put both the whipping cream and the sugar into the monster blender, and flail away. And so I did. I deposited the blended mixture into the ice cream maker, plugged it into an outlet, and added ice and salt.
My ice cream maker stops when the ice cream becomes viscous. This normally takes less than an hour, say 45 or 50 minutes. That day, two hours after starting, the ice cream maker was still churning and churning. I had to investigate, because this just wasn’t right. So, when I stopped the maker, I found that I had nice, solid ice cream that scooped very easily because of the low viscosity. Best of all, it had the velvet feel of Breyers Extra Creamy. Apparently the blender injected a good bit of air into the ice cream, and that created the velvety feel that delights the tongue.
Then I asked the question: why not try this approach with peach ice cream? Using the exact same recipe given above (including the vanilla extract), I added one nine-ounce jar of Georgia Peach Pepper Jam by Chile Today Hot Tamale (did I mention that you can buy it here?) to the mix, fed it into Kathy’s monster blender, and made a batch of ice cream. Knowing that it would most likely not become viscous enough to make the ice cream maker stop of its own accord, I pulled the plug after an hour of mixing.
It is delicious. The peach flavor is subtle, not overpowering, so if you prefer a very potent peach flavor, you may want to try adding two jars of Georgia Peach Pepper Jam by Chile Today Hot Tamale (which, coincidentally, you can buy here). The most pleasant aspect of this ice cream is that the casein in the milk products did not completely neutralize the capsaicin from the habanero pepper. It is a bit strange, eating a frozen product that produces a gently glow as it slides past the tongue. I like it!
Just remember that when you transfer the ice cream to a container for the freezer, do not fill the container all the way up. The ice cream will expand a little upon freezing. Fill the containers no more than 90% full.
Now, please excuse me, as I have to go to the grocery store. You see, the other thing I’ve been craving this weekend is some nice, cold watermelon.
You’ve got to love summer!