A Harte Appetite: We All Scream for Ice Cream
History is full of famous duos -- Romulus and Remus, Gilbert and Sullivan, Batman and Robin. But of all the prominent pairs over the ages perhaps my favorite is Ben and Jerry.
That's because the ice cream produced by that Vermont institution is the closest to homemade of any store-bought brand I know. And what could be better during the hot summer months than a scoop of homemade ice cream? (Unless it's two scoops).
Ben and Jerry notwithstanding, I think the best ice cream in the world is made in Italy. Gelato, the Italian word for ice cream, is richer and creamier than our ice cream because it typically contains less air. Some air is necessary to prevent ice cream from being hard as a rock but too much air makes it spongey and light.
Of course the richest, densest and most satisfying ice cream is the kind you make yourself. Turning the crank of an ice cream maker by hand or even letting an electric motor do it will likely not aerate the mixture to the same degree than an industrial machine in a factory will. Besides when you make ice cream at home you can enhance the final product by using only the finest of ingredients in generous quantities. I once burned out the motor on an ice cream maker by adding too many chocolate chunks to the container. I have no regrets.
Making homemade ice cream however is a time-consuming process and it does require a certain amount of effort -- even hassle. But producing something homemade that is extra special does not necessarily require using an ice cream maker. You can create great homemade ice cream simply by freezing the ice cream base until its almost solid then breaking it into chunks and placing it in a food processor where it's blended until smooth and then put back in the freezer until firm. This technique works best for frozen yogurt, sherbet or sorbet.
During this time of year when everybody screams for ice cream, this technique is an easy and delicious way to add to the clamor.
***** Peanut Rocky Road *****
This recipe, adapted from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, has been a favorite ice-cream dessert at our house ever since we first came across it many years ago. If you like "drumsticks," those frozen ice-cream novelty cones, you'll love this.
1 c. chopped cocktail peanuts
1 c. chopped chocolate chips
2 c. miniature marshmallows
3 pt. vanilla ice cream, cut up
1½ c. peanut butter
Toss together peanuts, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. Stir ice cream until smooth. Swirl peanut butter into ice cream. Spoon half of ice-cream mixture into a chilled 8-inch square pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle half of peanut-chocolate-marshmallow mixture over ice cream and cover with layer of remaining ice-cream mixture. Sprinkle with remaining peanut-chocolate-marshmallows mixture, pressing lightly into top. Freeze until set and cut into squares.