Retro Post: Adventure #1: Cardamom Rose Ice Cream
I think it’s appropriate that my first foray into a cooking blog is also my first foray into ice cream makers and electric mixers.
When we closed on our first house several months ago, I immediately ordered myself the KitchenAid Professional 600 Mixer, unable to resist the allure of Empire Red and 575 watts of Mixing Power. This weekend was our first full weekend in the house, and we decided we were together enough to host a small Mothers’ Day dinner. Naturally, I planned the dinner deliberately to incorporate as much mixer usage as seemed reasonable.
The meatloaf and mashed potatoes went off without a hitch. The mixer was incredible! It stirred! It mixed! It blended! It made delicious food! We were all impressed.
The Cardamom Rose ice cream (Thanks, Jasmine!), on the other hand, proved a bit more than my planning/recipe reading skills could handle. Lesson learned: next time, I will read the recipe ALL THE WAY THROUGH several days before I attempt anything new.
I knew that ice cream needed to chill for several hours. Having never actually made ice cream before, however, I didn’t anticipate just how many hours. When I read the recipe the first time, and planned my ice cream experimentation timing, I saw the bit about freezing the final product for 2-3 hours before serving. What I missed was the semi-crucial step where you refrigerate the batter for at least 4 hours before you mix it!
Having just begun my first attempt, I was already thwarted. There would be no delicious, experimental, home-made ice cream for Mothers’ Day dinner. ::giant sigh:: But we must barrel through, mustn’t we? And an ice cream like this will create its own special occasion. I proceeded with the recipe, delegating the cardamom crushing (no mortar & pestle, of course) and focusing on getting all the ingredients in the right quantities in the right places at the right times.
At last, the custard base was on the stove, burner on low as instructed. (Have I mentioned we also have a new stove?) I stirred. And stirred. And stirred. And turned up the burner to “2”. And stirred. And stirred.
Forty-five minutes later, the custard was steaming a bit, but refused to thicken. I was distraught. What could I do? The recipe said cook on low! My mother stepped in, braver than I by far: the burner went up to “5”, and within minutes the custard was coating the spoon as instructed. Catastrophe averted! I poured the custard in an ice tea pitcher to cool to room temperature before refrigerating, and moved on to the asparagus.
Three hours later, guests full, happy, and gone, dishes in the dishwasher, I checked the custard and discovered that, while it might have been just the tiniest bit cooler, it was certainly not room temperature. I decided that my amazing fridge could handle it, and stuck it in anyway so that I could go to bed.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the horrifying realization that I’d entirely forgotten to add the flavoring to the custard before I refrigerated it. Alas! What is cardamom rose ice cream without the rose?!? But it was 4 am, and I sleepily decided that it was too early to worry about it, and I would fix it in the morning. A logical decision; nonetheless my dreams for the remainder of the night featured negligently ruined desserts.
Before breakfast, before my tea even, I swirled the flavoring into the custard and put it back in the fridge. It would have plenty of time to recover while I was at work. Well over the 4 hours the recipe called for. I only hoped that there wasn’t such a thing as too much refrigeration at this stage.
I waited until after I’d killed all the bamboo in my yard to take the ice cream adventure to the next step. I readied the mixer: settled the frozen bowl, affixed the ice cream attachments, raised the carriage, and set the mixer to stir. I poured the custard in slowly, watching the waterfall effect as the still very liquid batter thoroughly coated the mixer blade. I was hopeful, but not too hopeful: could anything this runny possibly become ice cream?
The mixer instructions said to let the machine stir for 20-30 minutes, so I set the timer for 25 minutes and tried to wait patiently. I checked on the ice cream about 5 minutes later, scared and hopeful. Was it thickening? Or just making a mess? The custard was sticking to the sides of the bowl, crystallizing in some places, but mostly just looked wet.
Twenty minutes later, however, I believed in miracles. The ice cream looked like ice cream! It tasted like ice cream! It had made a mess like ice cream! I spooned it cautiously into tupperware and shoved it quickly (but carefully) into the freezer, trying not to think about the 3 hours I still had to wait.
I worked on other things. I organized books, put away clothes, made the bed. Anything to distract myself from the ice cream sitting unmolested in the freezer. We hung paintings, took them down, and hung them again somewhere else. I looked for missing things from the move. At last, it was time.
I spooned the ice cream into bowls as delicately as possible (I need a good ice cream scoop!) and alerted C. to the imminent arrival of heavenly sweetness. We settled down to test the perfection, refusing to remember the confusion and difficulty that lead to this moment.
It was delicious. Cold, creamy, and delicious. It tasted of roses and cream and custard. But it needed more cardamom. (Edit: and maybe less rose?)