July 7, 2006
Ice Cream, I'm gonna make Ice Cream!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for frozen dairy products. I've had a desire to make ice cream for many years now. My blogging partner, Meg, was kind enough to give us a French Donvier manual ice cream maker many years ago, but I've been unsuccessful making ice cream, making a mushy soupy sweet mess or unsatisfying icy white crystals instead of ice cream. I'd been discouraged enough that I'd pretty much given up on making the stuff from scratch.

However, with my recently acquired cooking skills, I thought the Fourth of July seemed like a great day to declare independence from the commercial ice cream makers and finally make a batch of Barrett's American-style Ice Cream

Now, ice cream is not originally American, but it has a long history in this country. Ben Franklin supposedly brought it back to the US from France, but Ben purportedly brought a lot of things back from France, and some of these stories are less accurate than others. What is known is that the Founding Fathers loved the stuff, especially Thomas Jefferson. Visitors to Monticello often remarked on the ice cream dishes served there, and the earliest American recipe for ice cream comes from Jefferson's notebooks.

I started with what might be one of the simplest of ice cream recipes - 2 cups milk, 2 cups heavy cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 cup powdered sugar. I combined the ingredients, and simmered them over a medium low heat, stirring constantly. Ten minutes later, the mix had thickened a bit and evenly coated the wooden spoon I used to stir it.

I cooled the mix on the oven top until it had reached near room temperature, then transferred it to the refrigerator. About half an hour later, when the mix was refrigerator temperature, I assembled the Donvier ice cream maker, using the core I had frozen the day before.

Following the directions, I tuned the crank on the ice cream maker3 times every thee minutes. Ignoring the directions, I continued this for 30 minutes instead of the 15-20 minutes suggested in the directions. Voila. Instead of the mess I had made before I had an ice cream-like substance. A little loose, sure, but very much like ice cream. I packed it into a container and put it in the refrigerator to freeze.

The result - ice cream! A little harder than commercial ice cream, but recognizably ice cream! Wow. It only took me 40 years to get to this point.

So now that I've made plain vanilla ice cream, watch out. We'll have some tasty variations soon, starting with the vanilla base that I've made here. Cherries are particularly plentiful right now...

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at July 7, 2006 7:33 AM Print-friendly version

I miss my old Ice Cream maker. We would always add a swirl of maple syrup to our vanilla once it started to harden, then break up pieces of sugar cone.
The sweet vanillaliscious memories!

Posted by Garrett on July 7, 2006 at 6:30 PM

A pastry chef friend taught me to make the best vanilla ice cream ever. When you're ready for Round 2 with your ice cream maker, try this: Make a batch of creme anglaise, chill it, and process in your ice cream machine. It creates the most intensely vanilla ice cream, with little flecks of vanilla from the inside of the bean. Yum.

Posted by lydia on July 8, 2006 at 6:37 PM

Barrett, three things:

1) I thought I warned you that it takes twice as long?

2) Donvier actually recommends cooling cooked mixtures overnight or at least six hours if I recall - this makes a denser, nicer texture.

3) If you leave the machine to "rest" for another 20 minutes with the paddle removed and the button from the handle in the hole (instead of putting it in the freezer) I find you get a really good texture.

I had no idea you were having problems getting a successful ice cream! Glad to hear its going bettter now, though...!


4) Try dumping six containers of fruit yogurt (all the same flavour) in the container after work one night. It makes really quick and easy frozen yogurt, yummy!

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 9, 2006 at 11:11 AM

An electric ice cream freezing is inexpensive and produces a better result than the Donviers in my experience. You need ice and salt, but it's well worth the extra effort.

Posted by Jen on July 9, 2006 at 12:52 PM

Um, another point - no eggs?? Especially in a base that is cooked before freezing, I see no reason to exclude them and they add enormously to the consistency.

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 9, 2006 at 1:39 PM

Meg, I think of eggs in vanilla ice cream as a French Vanilla ice cream or custard. I was trying for a purer plain old American ice cream.

I do like French Vanila, though the Rehead can't stand it. It may have to be a private batch just for myself.

I've also discovered (read, "was taken to by someone in the know") a fantastic ice cream shop in Georgetown called Thomas Sweets that i'll have to take you to when you visit.

Posted by barrett on July 10, 2006 at 9:46 AM

I think if you look carefully at most vanilla ice cream you'll see eggs are included, Barrett - in the recipe book that came with my Donvier ice cream machine (yes, 18 years on I still have it!) both the vanilla and the French vanilla recipes call for eggs. The latter just has more and an extra egg yolk.

Posted by Meg in Paris on July 10, 2006 at 5:08 PM

If you add eggs, you're technically making a frozen custard. Many "ice creams" sold today are actually custards (particularly the premium brands), but they're still custards.

I have the same booklet and yes, most of the recipes involve eggs. But it is a FRENCH ice cream maker, isn't it? And as I stipulated previosuly, French vanilla ice cream has eggs in it.

I'm not against eggs, but I don't think they're necessary. In fact, I know they aren't because this ova-less batch of ice cream was just delicious.

Posted by barrett on July 10, 2006 at 5:20 PM

It may be a French-sounding name, Barrett, but it's not a French product. They are unobtainable here as I know from exhaustive research. When I bought the spare paddle I had to order from the US and have it delivered to the US.

European freezers, as a rule, are much smaller than US ones and in fact it was many years before I bothered bringing my machine here because I didn't have a freezer big enough to use it!

Posted by Meg on July 11, 2006 at 9:16 AM

I think the maker may have been born in France after all, though the company is apparently Canadian.

The Donvier site itself isn't very helpful in discovering the origins of the product, but it does mention they're owned by Browne & Company. On B&C's website, they mention that though their headquarters is in Ontario, and they mention only one manufacturing facility that is in, of all places, France.


That might explain why I was convinced it was French while the maker boasts North American proportions.

Posted by barrett on July 11, 2006 at 10:00 AM
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