Monday, August 2, 2010

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Kannapolis seems to think that summer is over.  We ended a "beach music festival", complete with fireworks, to mark the end of summer.  On July 31.  I don't necessarily buy into their theory that summer ends when July does.  In Colorado, August brings fresh, juicy, ripe peaches.  Here, in NC, the season begins a little earlier.  Peaches have been showing up in the market for a couple weeks, but they just keep getting better.  As you all know, I'm a bit lazy, and standing over the sink to eat a drippy peach is a little too much work.  I like to find alternate ways to eat peaches.  One of the very best is peach ice cream.

I'm sure I could find plenty of peach-flavored ice cream at the supermarket, but I'm talking real ice cream with real peaches in it.  Where the peach flavor comes from the fruit itself and not from some lab on the New Jersey Turnpike.  To be sure, I knew that I'd have to make my own.

Making ice cream is a lot easier than most people imagine, especially with the advent of the electric ice cream machine.  I got one for Christmas several years ago.  While I don't use the machine frequently, I do use it often enough to be glad I've got it.  The most difficult part is remembering to keep the canister in the freezer.  Now that my freezer is reasonably empty (thank you, Early Escapades!), I keep the canister in there at all times.  When I decide it's time to make ice cream, I can do it right then.  No advance planning required!

Peach ice cream is also a good option (as is peach cobbler) to use up some of those peaches just sitting around, getting a little overripe.  But don't use any that are way past their prime.  Remember, garbage in, garbage out.  I picked up some blemished peaches for this purpose.  They're cheaper and just as good in ice cream.  Another bonus of homemade ice cream is that it tastes almost nothing like purchased ice cream.  Unless you love the insipid taste of store-bought, generic ice cream.  Then homemade may not be for you.  But I love it.  Maybe it's because I can taste the love in it.  Love tastes better than something made in some lab on the New Jersey Turnpike (there's that phrase again).  This way, I've got summer in the freezer until I decide that summer's over.

Peach Ice Cream
Adapted from Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 cups sugar (divided use)
6 large egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 lb ripe peaches
2 tbsp sugar

Prepare an ice bath:  place ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl.

Combine cream, milk, and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.  Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until it thickens and turns pale yellow, about 2 minutes.  Gradually add about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan.  Cook over low heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon (about 180 degrees F), stirring constantly.  Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Place the bowl in the ice bath.  Add the vanilla.  Stir the custard every few minutes until cool.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight. 

Peel and pit the peaches, then cut into slices or chunks.  Sprinkle with the sugar and refrigerate for a few hours.  After the peaches have macerated, puree half.  Crush the other half into smaller pieces.

Freeze the chilled custard in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.  Towards the end of the freezing, slowly mix in the puree and the peach pieces.  Pack the ice cream into containers and freeze 2-3 hours before serving.

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