REAL VANILLA ICE CREAM

Makes about 3 quarts.

Note: If you don't have a double boiler, use a stainless steel bowl nestled in a pot. Top this ice cream with a fresh berry sauce or a fudge sauce, and when no one is looking, ladle on both. A summer indulgence!

• 11/2 c. sugar

• 2 c. whole milk

• 2 to 3 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 6 to 8 eggs yolks

• 4 c. (1 quart) heavy cream, chilled

• Ice cream salt

• Crushed ice

• Chocolate Fudge Sauce or Fresh Berry Compote (see recipes)

Directions

Combine the sugar, milk, vanilla extract and salt in the top of a double boiler. Heat the mixture over hot water until hot and bubbly -- but not boiling -- for about 10 minutes. Set the hot milk mixture aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and beat briskly with a whisk. Add a few tablespoons of the hot sugar and milk to the egg yolks and again whisk briefly. Then slowly whisk the remaining of the hot milk and sugar mixture into the egg yolks, and continue beating until the mixture is well combined. Pour the warmed egg mixture into the double boiler and mix well.

Raise the heat a bit. Cook the custard, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 10 minutes or the custard thickens and coats a spoon and reaches 170 degrees on a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer. (Don't let the custard boil; it can curdle.)

Immediately remove the custard from the heat and pour into a large clean bowl. Set the bowl of custard in an ice water bath -- a larger pan filled with ice and water -- and chill completely, stirring occasionally to release steam.

Then add the heavy cream to the custard and mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or foil, set in the refrigerator, and chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to freeze, pour the chilled custard through a strainer into a chilled ice cream freezer canister, no larger than a gallon size, stirring to mix well. Freeze according to the freezer manufacturer's direction.

Vanilla bean variation: Finely chop a vanilla bean or two, place in a coffee grinder, and sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of sugar, and pulverize as finely as possible. Then combine the pulverized bean with the remaining sugar called for in the recipe, mix well, and proceed as directed.

 

CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ICE CREAM

Makes about 21/2 quarts.

Note: If you don't have a double boiler, use a stainless steel bowl nestled in a pot. Cinnamon is often combined with chocolate in Mexican cooking, and it adds a bracing and aromatic note to this luscious ice cream. Both cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate are used, and the ice cream has a rich, deep, dense flavor.

• 2 cinnamon sticks or 11/2 to 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

•1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• 2 c. milk

• 2 c. sugar

• 8 egg yolks

• 1 tbsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, finely chopped

• 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

• 4 c. (1 quart) heavy cream, chilled

• Ice cream salt

• Crushed ice

Directions

Break the cinnamon sticks (if using) into small pieces and pulverize into tiny bits in a coffee grinder.

Place the pulverized cinnamon stick or the ground cinnamon, the cocoa powder and salt in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the milk and mix well. Cook over hot water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the mixture for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.

Add a few tablespoons of warm cream to the egg yolk-sugar mixture and whisk briefly. Stir in another ladle of hot cream to the egg yolks and whisk again. Now add the warmed egg yolk mixture into the double boiler and mix well.

Raise the heat a bit. Cook the custard, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it thickens and coats a spoon or reaches 170 degrees on a candy or instant read thermometer. (Don't let boil; the custard can curdle.) Stir in the vanilla extract.

Remove the custard from the heat. Coarsely chop the chocolate, stir into the hot custard, and beat briskly until well-blended.

Pour the custard through a fine strainer into a large bowl. Fill a larger bowl or dishpan with cold water and ice cubes. Set the bowl of custard in the ice water bath and chill completely, occasionally stirring the custard to release steam.

Add the heavy cream to the custard and stir to mix well. Remove the bowl from the ice bath and cover the top with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Set the bowl of custard in the refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, chill the freezer canister. When ready to churn, pour the custard into the chilled freezer container, stirring to mix well. Freeze the ice cream according to the freezer manufacturer's direction, using the salt and ice.

 

STAR ANISE PEACH ICE CREAM

Makes 21/2 to 3 quarts.

Note: If you don't have a double boiler, use a stainless steel bowl nestled in a pot. Star anise has a licorice-like flavor similar to regular anise. The pods are often in the spice section of supermarkets or available online and in health food stores or at Penzey's (several locations here).

• 2 lb. medium-size ripe peaches, white or yellow (8 or 9)

• 1/2 c. sugar

• 2 tbsp. water

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 2 to 3 tbsp. star anise pieces

• 3 c. heavy cream

• Pinch of salt

• 8 egg yolks

• 11/2 c. sugar

• 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

• 3 c. buttermilk, chilled

Directions

Rinse the peaches, remove stems, peel and cut into quarters lengthwise. Discard the pits. Combine the peaches, sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 to 18 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and tender and lightly caramelized in color. Remove the peaches from the stove, stir in the lemon juice.

Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, crush or mash the peaches into small bits, but don't purée. Cover and set in the refrigerator. (This can be done in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.) Finely crush the star anise and scatter it in a small heavy skillet. Set over low heat and toast for a few minutes, stirring. Don't scorch or burn the star anise. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the star anise, cream and salt in the top of a double boiler. Heat the mixture over hot water until hot and bubbly for about 10 minutes, but don't allow the cream to boil.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the mixture about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add a few tablespoons of the warm cream to the egg yolk-sugar mixture and whisk briefly. Stir in another ladle of hot cream to the egg yolks and whisk again. Now add the warmed egg yolk mixture into the double boiler and mix well.

Raise the heat a bit. Cook the custard, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it thickens and coats a spoon or reaches 170 degrees on a candy or instant read thermometer. (Don't let boil; the custard may curdle.) Stir in the vanilla extract.

Remove the custard from the heat and pour through a fine strainer into a large clean bowl. Set the bowl of custard in an ice water bath and chill completely, stirring occasionally to release steam.

Stir the buttermilk into the chilled custard. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and chill several hours or overnight. Then pour the custard into the freezer container, and stir to mix well.

Freeze the custard according to the freezer manufacturer's direction, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it is partially frozen and has turned into soft ice cream. Then unplug the freezer, remove the dasher, and wipe the top of the canister with a clean cloth. Remove the canister lid and stir in the peaches with a long-handled spoon, mixing well. Close the freezer again and continue freezing the ice cream until firm.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO SUNDAE

Serves 6.

Note: I am not quite a chocolate junkie but I do have to pinch myself and say "stop" when I sit down to this sundae. The pistachio nuts, which are lightly toasted, add a pretty sparkle and contrasting flavor. You can serve the fudge sauce at room temperature, but I personally like it warmed up and ladled over the ice cream. Your call.

• Chocolate Cinnamon Ice Cream (see recipe)

• 1 c. unshelled pistachios, or more

• Chocolate Fudge Sauce (see recipe)

• 1 c. chilled heavy cream, whipped

Directions

Prepare and freeze the Chocolate Cinnamon Ice Cream according to recipe directions. When ready to serve the sundae, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shell the pistachio nuts and scatter on a large, shallow roasting pan.

Toast in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned, shaking the pan to move around the nuts midway through the baking, or stir with a wooden spoon.

Remove the nuts from the oven. Scatter on a tea towel. Using the towel, briskly rub the nuts with your fingertips and remove the skins, or cut away with a small knife. Set aside.

Prepare the fudge sauce and keep warm. To assemble the sundaes: Place a tablespoon or so of the fudge sauce in the bottom of 6 sundae dishes or tall glasses. Top with two or three scoops of ice cream and sprinkle each serving with a couple tablespoons of the pistachio nuts.

Spoon over more fudge sauce, and top generously with the remaining pistachio nuts. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve immediately.

FRESH BERRY COMPOTE

Makes about 4 cups.

• 4 c. fresh berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or a mixture of berries

• 1/3 to 1/2 c. honey or large crystal style sugar, such as Sugar-in-the Raw

• 2 tbsp. fruit or honey liqueur

• 1/2 tsp. ground allspice

• 2 to 3 tbsp. granulated sugar or crystals sugar

Directions

Rinse the berries, discarding stems. Reserve 1 cup berries to use as a sauce. Drain the remaining berries and place in a glass bowl. Chill, if desired.

In a medium saucepan combine the 1 cup reserved berries and the honey or sugar. Use a wooden spoon to crush the berries. Stir in the liqueur and allspice.

Place the pan on medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring. Immediately reduce the heat to low, and cook the mixture for 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and smooth, stirring often.

Remove the sauce from the heat. Pour the sauce through a strainer into bowl of berries, pressing hard to extract all of the pulp. Mix the berries and sauce, and chill for an hour, if desired. Use as a topping for ice cream or stir into a canister of ripening ice cream.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

Makes 2 generous cups.

Note: This is an old family recipe, boasting a strong, deep flavor, but quite sweet. It's the perfect topping for ice cream sundaes, parfaits and splits, and for drizzling over plain cake topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

• 2 oz. good quality unsweetened chocolate

• 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 11/4 c. sugar

• 11/2 c. undiluted evaporated milk or heavy cream

• 1/2 c. brewed coffee

• 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

• 2 tbsp. white or dark corn syrup

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside. Combine in a heavy stainless steel pan the cocoa and sugar and mix well. Stir in the milk or heavy cream, coffee, butter and corn syrup, and mix until well-blended.

Place the pan on medium high heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook, swirling the pan instead of stirring the mixture, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Add the vanilla extract and chocolate pieces and cook a few minutes longer over low heat, stirring briskly until the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the heat and beat again.

Let the sauce set for a few moments to thicken and then beat briskly. If the sauce becomes too thick, stir in a tablespoon or so of milk or cream and reheat over low heat, stirring gently.

If serving over ice cream, serve warm. The sauce will keep for several weeks in a canning jar with a tight lid in the refrigerator. When ready to use, reheat in the top of a double boiler or set the jar of sauce in a skillet filled with hot water. Place the skillet over medium heat and reheat the sauce.