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Friday, September 23, 2011

Empty Plates

A few minutes after serving scoops of peach ice cream in sugar wafer bowls to my husband, daughter and son Thursday night, I looked up to see each one of them doing exactly the same thing:  trying to scrape up any last bits from completely empty plates.  I guess you liked it, I said.

It all started two days ago.  I picked up a big basket of peaches from Pleasant Hill Farm in Jamesburg Wednesday afternoon on my way to work at the Library.  Left the Library that night with three cookbooks in hand with ice cream recipes:  The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein, and The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto.

After perusing them all, I picked the Peach Ice Cream recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  Since I knew from experience that any ice cream mixture has to be refrigerated overnight for the best results, (and don't forget the ice cream maker cylinder has to be frozen 24 hours in advance), I prepared the base Wednesday night.  It didn't take much time or skill.  Of course, the key ingredient is great peaches.  Which I had.

The next day was easy.  I grabbed the cooled peach base out of the fridge and the frozen cylinder from the freezer, poured in the mixture, hit the button, and 20 minutes later I had some beautiful, softly set, luscious, late summer peach ice cream.

After I ate (inhaled?) a scoop (the perfect lunch), I thought that the whole process was so easy and quick, maybe I should make some homemade cones?  How hard could it be?  And I'd always wanted to do it.

To my pleasant surprise, the sugar cone recipe I picked from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book worked like a charm.  Easier than one might think.  A caveat:  on a humid day like yesterday, the cones and bowls softened a bit after a few hours.  Might want to make them on a drier day, or else eat them immediately.  They're so much fun to have though, I don't think your fellow ice cream eaters would mind if they were a little bit less than perfect.

Funnily enough, I used wooden blocks (well washed of course) from my granddaughter's toy basket to mold the cones.  After making a batch, and having the seams come apart a little, I read The Perfect Scoop's recipe which recommended to press the mold down firmly on the seam to keep the cones from coming apart, and to pinch the bottom shut.  Worked well.  (Of course, you can always drop a mini marshmallow or two in the bottom of the cones to keep them from dripping, too.)

Peach Ice Cream, adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches (about 4 large)
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar, (any kind, white, turbinado, brown)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
few drops fresh lemon juice

Peel the peaches, and cut into small pieces. Cook in medium saucepan with the water for about 8 minutes as you would applesauce, covered, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are tender.  Remove from heat.  Add the sugar of your choice (I used turbinado because I had some and I like it).  Cool.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Process or blend until just barely smooth.  Chill overnight.  Freeze in ice cream maker.

Oven Baked Sugar Cones adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons, butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Beat the sugar and egg together in a mixer until thickened and pale yellow.  Beat in the butter, vanilla and milk.  Sift the flour over the batter.  Mix gently.

Line a half sheet pan or cookie sheet with a Silpat mat.  Drop 1 1/2 Tablespoons of batter on the mat and spread out with an offset spatula to a 6 inch circle.  Three fit easily on one sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned.  Immediately remove wafer with a spatula and shape over cone mold.  Carefully press down flat on seam side and pinch bottom shut.  Quickly repeat with remaining wafers.  Then let cool a few minutes and unmold.  This recipe makes about 12 cones.  (Can also shape over the back of custard cups to make bowls.)

Even if you don't want to bother with the cones, do try the ice cream - it's so good!  You can pick up an ice cream maker at a yard sale for about $10.00.  The Cuisinart I have I got for Christmas, and sells for about fifty bucks, but you could probably get one on sale for forty.  Ironic that I'm enjoying this ice cream maker now so long after the holidays.  In fact, I did make coffee ice cream (my fave) right away in January, but I used a recipe where you had to cook the eggs and make a custard. Although the flavor was great, the texture was a little bizarre - despite straining the mix before freezing, the ice cream was a little, well, grainy.

Maybe that's advanced ice cream making - for my money, I'll stick with this non-custard recipe when the peaches are fresh and plentiful. After all, you can't argue with an empty plate.

There are so many great sounding recipes in the cookbooks I used, The Perfect Scoop and The Ultimate Ice Cream Book, I would recommend both books, even after having tried just one (excellent) recipe apiece. And if you do,will you let me know how it goes? 

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Peach Lover 


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