FANNIE FARMER was no friend to lovers of ice cream. In "The Original Boston Cooking-School Cookbook," published in 1896, she ruled out ice cream for dessert, warning that its cold temperature was a menace to proper digestion.
But might Fannie have been tempted to risk some ice cream for dessert, had she discovered it to be infused with a blast of brandy to counter the cold? h
With apologies to her, it may be noted that ice cream -- in particular, the homemade variety -- is an irresistible dessert that is even more appealing with the addition of a bit of booze. Some cooks advocate simply sloshing a few jiggerfuls over the frozen scoops, but the effect of that direct hit can be a little too fiery. For more subtle flavor, sweet liqueurs of hard liquor may be stirred into the basic ice cream mixture before it is churned. (Cooks in a hurry can soften, spike, then refreeze high-quality store-bought ice cream.)
The combinations are almost limitless: coconut-rum, apricot-armagnac, chocolate chip-cream de menthe, coffee-cognac, fresh peach with almond-flavored liqueur, Irish coffee ice cream with whiskey and nutmeg.
To make these and most other 80-proof flavors, simply start with old-fashioned vanilla ice cream. There are basically two kinds: French vanilla and Philadelphia. The French sounds fancier, and it is: Egg yolks, sugar and milk are heated together to make a thick custard that may be enriched with cream before flavoring and freezing. Philadelphia ice cream is a simpler, uncooked version made with cream, sugar and flavorings.
The vanilla base can be as rich or as light as the cook likes. Some classic recipes for French vanilla (Escoffier, Larousse Gastronomique) call for as many as 10 egg yolks and a generous cup of sugar to 4 1/2 cups of milk. That combination produces an exceedingly rich and smooth ice cream (as well as a lot of leftover egg whites, so plan to serve the ice cream in meringue shells). Using as few as 6 or even 4 egg yolks with the same amount of sugar and milk will yield an acceptable ice cream.
For richer results, substitute part of the milk with half-and-half or whipping cream. (Thomas Jefferson, famous ice cream fanatic as well as founding father, made his artery-clogging French vanilla with 6 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar and 2 pints heavy cream.) Dieters, on the other hand, can make a less rich, yet still palatable vanilla using 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and part whole milk, part 2-percent and even part skim milk in place of the cream.
Both classic French vanilla and Philadelphia-style ice creams may be frozen either in a hand-cranked or electric ice cream churn, or in the freezer. fWithout a churn, though, more time and attention must be devoted to the ice cream to get the proper consistency. Pour the ice cream mixture into freezer trays or small shallow baking pans and freeze until mushy. Then scrape into a bowl and beat well with cold electric beaters. (If whipping cream is to be added to a cooled, cooked custard, it should be whipped and folded in after the mushy custard has been beaten.) The mixture should then be poured back into trays or pans and returned to the freezer. Stir every 30 minutes or so, scraping down sides, for the next few hours. For creamier consistency, beat mixture a few more times before it is completely frozen.
If a churn is used, follow manufacturer's directions carefully. Never fill the container more than three-quarters full; ice cream expands as it freezes. (Use refrigerator-freezer method to freeze any extra ice cream mixture.) Some manufacturers recommend folding in ingredients that may clog the dasher, such as chopped fruit, coconut of nuts, at the end of the churning process, when ice cream is still slightly soft. (It firms up after several hours in the freezer.)
Whichever freezing method is used, take care not to pour in the liquor with too heavy a hand. An overdose will not only spoil the taste of the ice cream; it will also interfere with the freezing process.
Some cooks don't care. In the loose-leaf cookbook "Charleston Receipts," ingredients for eggnog ice cream are 5 eggs, 1/3 cup suggar, 1 pint cream and 6 jiggers (9 ounces!) of rum and rye. "This will never freeze very stiff," notes the recipe's contributor. The guests may, though, after one or two scoops.
The amount of liquor in the recipes that follow will have little effect on the freezing process. If desired, however, the alcoholic content may be eliminated by warming the liquor, then flaming it. (Cool before adding to ice cream mixture.) Only the essence will remain to intoxicate your guests. SCOTCH ICE CREAM WITH TOASTED PECANS (About 3 pints) 2 cups half-and-half 2 cups whipping cream 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar Dash salt 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/4 cup scotch whiskey 3/4 cup toasted pecan halves, chopped
In a mixing bowl combine half-and-half, whipping cream, sugar and salt and stir vigorously for a few minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla, whiskey and chopped pecans; mix well. Pour into container of ice cream freezer and process.
NOTE: To toast pecans, place nuts on a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes; stir occasionally. BITTER CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM WITH ORANGE-FLAVORED LIQUEUR (About 3 1/2 pints) 3/4 cup sugar 6 egg yolks Dash salt 3 cups milk 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate 1 cup whipping cream 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur 3 tablespoons grated orange rind
In a heavy saucepan or the top of a doubleboiler, beat together sugar, egg yolks and salt until thick and pale yellow. In another saucepan, heat milk with chocolate until milk is scalded. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
Add hot chocolate milk, a little at a time, to egg yolks and sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until mixture has thickened slightly and just coats a spoon. Do not overcook or egg yolks will curdle. Pour into a bowl and chill.
Add cream, vanilla, liqueur and orange rind; stir to blend. Pour into container of ice cream freezer and process.
NOTE: Amount and kind of chocolate may be changed to suit individual taste. For very chocolatey ice cream, use 3 ounces each unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate; for a much lighter taste, add as little as 2 ounces semi-sweet or unsweetened, or 1 ounce of each. APRICOT-ARMAGNAC ICE CREAM (About 3 pints) 2 cups apricot halves, drained 2 cups half-and-half 1 cup whipping cream 1/4 cup sugar Dash salt 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 3 tablespoons armagnac
Puree apricot halves in blender jar or food processor bowl. There should be about 1 1/2 cups puree. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl combine half-and-half, whipping cream, sugar and salt.Stir vigorously for a few minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Add almond extract, apricot puree and armagnac; stir to blend. Pour mixture into container of ice cream freezer and process.
NOTE: This ice cream is beautifully pale and delicately flavored. For a fruitier taste and more color, add 2 to 2 1/3 cups apricot puree. Other fruits both canned and fresh, may be substituted. (Add more sugar, to taste, to fresh fruit.) COCONUT-RUM ICE CREAM (About 3 1/2 pints) 4 cups half-and-half 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar Dash salt 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut 1/4 cup rum
In a mixing bowl, combine half-and-half, sugar and salt and stir vigorously for a few minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla, coconut and rum; mix well. Pour into container of ice cream freezer and process.
NOTE: Coconut may clog dasher. Check manufacturer's instructions for recommendations on when to add ingredients such as coconut, nuts, fruit, etc.