Over the summer, my friend Meeshie visited me here in Los Angeles and humbly requested that we make ice cream. I handed her David Lebovitz’s seminal ice cream bible The Perfect Scoop and told her to pick out the flavor of her choice (as long as it wasn’t something vile that involved berries — eww). Anyway, after much browsing and deliberation, Meeshie decided on one of her all time favorite ice creams: rum raisin. A trip to the grocery store later, we were ready to make ice cream!
Pics of our adventure after the jump…
Things begin on a decidedly citrusy note. Here I am using my lovely OXO peeler to get a few swathes of orange rind.
Some generic Ralphs brand raisins enter the equation.
The raisins and orange peel go into a saucepan, ready for a rummy bubble bath.
Speaking of rum, here it is. We’re to use dark rum, but in case my stash runs out, we have the light Bacardi variety on hand too.
Clearly the presence of spirits thrills me.
Measuring out the rum. I believe it was about a cup or so.
Shockingly, it smells like rum.
After some careful inspection, I determine that we are ready to proceed.
Random dancing. I really don’t remember the context.
Soon, the rum, raisins, and orange peel head to the stovetop for a thorough boiling.
In no time, the rum comes to a boil, at which point I remove it from the flame and let it cool next to my Snoop Dogg pint glass — a favorite of my mother’s.
Next it’s time to prepare an ice bath. I’m fond of using a kettle as it’s more stable later on when I have to nest a smaller bowl inside. Also, it’s what I had out already on the counter top.
Time to separate some eggs. I hate this process; so I had the reins over to Meeshie, who dives in with fearless abandon.
Meeshie appears to be an expert, but we most certainly had one or two VERY close calls with the whites sneaking into the yolks.
In the end, we survived.
With the egg bowl set, it’s time to prepare the cream mixture. This of course means I have to clear the simple hurdle of opening the cream carton…
The bastard won’t open. Quiet embarrassment slowly sets in…
I get one of these situations. UGH.
Time to bring in the heavy machinery.
At last I triumph. Let the cream pour freely!
So far so good: cream bowl to the left; yolk bowl to the right. Heart attack straight ahead!
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, I stir together some milky/cream mixture with sugar.
The eggs lie in wait.
Just waiting for the cream and sugar mixture to warm up.
There’s a lot of waiting in ice cream making.
I’m growing slightly impatient.
Finally, when I deem the mixture to be warm enough, I pour it very slowly into the yolks while I whisk simultaneously. As this is a two-handed process, I never have photos of this step. But thanks to Meeshie, we have full documentation!
Are we excited to see the World Premiere of me tempering egg yolks?
And we have successfully mixed the warm cream with the cool yolks.
Back into the saucepan it all goes.
And we return to stirring. It’s a constant, meditative process.
After a few minutes, I see a waft of steam, which indicates that thickening will be occurring shortly. Sure enough, a finger test of the scraper reveals that the custard is at an ideal viscosity.
The custard then goes into the bowl of MORE cream via a sieve to strain out any accidental clumps of scrambled eggs.
Further mixing ensues. I don’t remember if any vanilla extract is added at this part of the process.
I then move the bowl over to the ice bath and stir repeatedly to cool down the custard and stop the cooking process. The wide base of the stock pot is helpful here.
After a few minutes of stirring, I wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and deposit it into my refrigerator, which seems to have a surplus of beer inside it.
Meeshie is fascinated by the organized disaster that is my refrigerator.
We now fast forward. It’s now the following afternoon, and our raisins are crazy plump with rum.
We must strain out the raisins; so this happens.
Everything seems to be coming along just fine.
The rum, now with 50% more raisin sediment.
I need some tablespoons of the rum, and I find that this bowl doesn’t make scooping terribly easy.
I transfer the rum to a measuring cup, kicking myself for ever using that big white bowl in the first place. I HATE unnecessary dishes.
I think I needed about two tablespoons of rum, which I measured out into this glass. As luck would have it, I had exactly two tablespoons of rum in the white bowl. And thus, I dirtied both a measuring cup AND a regular glass totally unnecessarily. Major frustration. Nevertheless, the rum goes in the cold custard.
And into the ice cream machine it goes!
Let the fun begin!
Thirty minutes later, we have ice cream so thick and luscious that the machine physically cannot churn it any longer. The Deni ice cream machine slows to a stop, which means I’ll have to mix the raisins in manually. Buyer beware: the Deni isn’t very strong and often slows to a stop when things get too thick or mix-ins are, well, mixed-in. Go for a Cuisinart.
That being said, the Deni can do one thing right: make ice cream!
In go the raisins!
Manual mixing in is a messy, annoying process. You sort of have to do layers of ice cream and raisins. Plus, there needs to be some degree of mixing, which can be difficult, especially with the ice cream melting.
You can already see how much the ice cream has melted by the time I fill up the quart.
Nevertheless, we manage to get all the ice cream out of the machine eventually.
And now… the tasting…
The Verdict: really good! Rum raisin is not my favorite flavor by far, but as rum raisin goes, this one is pretty much tops. Nearly every bite contains a burst of rum, courtesy of the raisins which explode with eye-opening intensity. Rum lovers and rum-raisin lovers will have a ball with this. I should note that the ice cream base is not crazy “rummy” flavored, but I believe that’s a good thing, given how strong the raisins are. Instead, the ice cream has a nice balance between a pleasant, understated rum base and an aggressively alcoholic raisin bite. Good times!