Dulce de leche ice cream

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As a late Christmas present, my mom gave me a Kitchenaid ice cream maker to use with my standing mixer. The second it was out of the box it went into the freezer to prepare for use the next day. The hardest part: deciding what ice cream to make!

Originally I wanted to make some creme anglaise ice cream using a recipe by the Barefoot Contessa from foodnetwork.com, but the recipe required Cognac, and this being Arkansas the liquor stores weren’t open on a Sunday. Darn. After a little searching on the internet, however, Jay found a recipe for dulce de leche ice cream. Not only did the recipe reviewers think the recipe was the best dulce de leche ice cream recipe, they thought it was the best ice cream recipe, period. Well, how could we pass up that?

Unfortunately for us (at least as far as simplicity goes), the local Kroger didn’t carry any pre-made dulce de leche, so we had to make our own. Using a recipe from Alton Brown, Jay whipped up a batch. He doubled the recipe, which made a little extra, what a shame! I was out of the house for most of the preparation, but I think it was a decently simple recipe. Based on the taste, I have a feeling we’ll be making it a lot more.

Finally the time came to put the ice cream batter in the machine, and away it went. It was a little nerve-wracking waiting on the machine to do it’s magic, mainly because we had never made ice cream before, but slowly the ice cream began to come together. After spending time in the machine, we didn’t give it quite enough time in the freezer to firm up, but it was still very good. Because this ice cream batter didn’t use any eggs, the texture was different from most ice creams and had more ice crystals than perhaps other recipes, but I still thought it was great. The flavor was rich but not overpowering and not at all too sweet. I poured some of the leftover dulce de leche on top of my ice cream, and it was very, very nice.

I think perhaps that we didn’t churn the ice cream for long enough, and therefore the consistency never really got to the “hard” stage, but stayed at the “almost firm” stage. The pecans were a nice touch, but it would have been better if they had more of a salty kick. This would have provided an interesting counterbalance to the sweetness of the ice cream. Nevertheless, it was still good, and definitely worth trying again.

Dulce de Leche
(original recipe Alton Brown/Good Eats)

Ingredients:
1 quart whole milk
12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Method:
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
(original recipe May 2007 Gourmet)

Ingredients:
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups; preferably La Salamandra brand) (Note, we made our own, see above recipe)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted

Method:
Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans.

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

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