Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I scream, you scream, we all scream for molecular gastronomy!

Let's face it, nothing can cool a hot body like a big bowl of ice cream.  Although it is not always effective at cooling down a hot body, wink, wink, it a tasty dessert that may have had it's origins in the ancient Arab world.  The most common idea is that ancient Persians used to gather ice or snow from their mountains and then pour fruit juice on top, making what we call now: a snow cone.  It was later, around the 10th century that the Arab world started to use milk or cream, combined with sugar and ice to produce what we love today: ice cream.

Ice cream, is technically a frozen foam as fat globs from the milk or cream are suspended within a frozen sugar and water structure.  While air gets trapped within the structure as well, durning churning or mixing.  Modern ice cream makers have introduced such great hydrocolloids to this traditional method to help distribute the fat and the air better to make smoother and more creamy concoctions.  They can also use natural gelling agents to help create the same consistency without the sugar structure or the fat globules.

 Even though I grew up miles away from what is considered the best frozen custard in St. Louis, Ted Drews, and grew my whole life thinking that when people say "ice cream", they mean Ted Drews or Baskin Robbins, the best ice cream I have ever had was not found in this country. Sure there is gellato in the Italian shops in Las Vegas or shaved ice in other areas, but none of them come close to the texture and flavor that I had experienced while in Beirut.  It would figure that somewhere within the birthplace of ice cream would have the best ice cream. The shop I went to had maybe as much as 50 flavors of ice cream and each one had a robust flavor to it.  Not a spicy one, but bold as in, the rosewater flavored ice cream tasted like someone had stuck rose petals within the ice cream. It was also in Beirut that I was introduced to the cherimoya fruit and they had an ice cream for that as well.

For the past few years, I have been making regular ice cream and sugar free ice cream for my family and friends using a Cuisinart ICE-20FR ice cream maker.I thought everything was good with this device and for the price, it is a good maker. With this machine, there is a bowl that you have to take out and freeze at least 24 hours prior to making ice cream.  This does prevent you from doing the spontaneous ice cream making ritual, which does sometimes pop up with my family.  I believe that this model runs between $40-$50 and is good for those who like to make ice cream every once in a while.  It is a bit noisy, so I would recommend placing it in another room while it churns.

Now, by a strange case of luck, my mother-in-law parted with her ice cream maker to me.  This is a nice thing.  This is the Cuisinart ICE-50BC commercial ice cream maker and makes ice cream in as little as 30 minutes!
This device retails, new, for about $300 so there is a price difference between the two, but I would highly suggest this one after just a few uses.  With this model, it has everything all together.  All you do is plug it in, pour the ingredients in and turn it on.  That was easy!  I did a simple vanilla recipe using a cup of milk, a cup of cream, 3/4th cup of white sugar and two tablespoons of vanilla extract.  I did toss in some broken chocolate chip cookies.  When the 30 minutes were up it created a runny soft serve consistency and that was placed in the freezer to harden.  Now, with the other ice cream maker, when you finish the mixing, it has to go in the freezer to get to ice cream but in most cases, it gets too hard, like frozen solid milk.  This one, even after many hours in the freezer was not frozen solid and was still as soft as it was upon completion. 

So, if you love cream, get this commercial one, right above.  It is even cheaper than I thought on amazon.  I highly suggest using it to make your own ice creams.

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