I made ice cream for a gathering last weekend, and I hated it. Mostly I hated that I was in a hurry, and had too many things planned, and was scrambling, which led to scrambled eggs, which led to starting over, which led to less time and more scrambling. I also just didn't particularly like the recipe--it had 10 (gasp, 10!) egg yolks per quart, and I didn't like the egginess. But I didn't like my execution, either, and all and all, I felt I had thrown down a self-to-self gauntlet over ice cream. I went home and started the week by challenging myself to a duel. I and I won.
This is the result. I was well pleased.
I took some flavors and ingredients that intrigue me, and riffed a bit off of David Lebovitz' fine pumpkin ice cream recipe. Here's the link to an online version of his recipe, so you can see what I changed: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/11/pumpkin_ice_cream_recipe.html
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream
1/3 fine sugar (I use caster sugar)
1 t. ground ginger
1 rounded T. 5-spice powder (make sure it has Sichuan pepper in it)
1/2 t. kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 cup kabocha squash puree (seed and roast, then puree)
3 T. minced crystallized ginger
Mix the milk, cream, caster sugar, spices, and salt in a saucepan. Warm until starting to bubble, stirring occasionally, being careful not to scorch.
Whisk the egg yolks briskly in a medium bowl until smooth and thick. To temper the eggs, add 1 cup of the warm milk mixture (in a slow, steady drizzle) to the yolks, whisking constantly.
Return the egg/milk mixture back to the saucepan and stir to combine with the remaining milk and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken and coat the spoon, but avoid letting bubbles develop. Bubbles lead to scrambled eggs--not an appetizing ice cream confection.
Pour the mixture into an icy bowl (see below), whisk in the brown sugar, and stir until cool. Chill for several hours. When completely cold, stir in squash puree and vanilla, and pour through a fine mesh strainer into an ice cream maker. You should be able to scrape almost all of the mixture through the strainer, but it will smooth out the texture nicely. Process until you have a soft ice cream and then add the ginger. Process a couple of minutes more and remove to a freezer-appropriate container. Freeze overnight.Makes +/- one quart.
*Icy bowl: rather than make a conventional ice bath by nesting a bowl in a larger bowl of ice, I put one bowl inside another one and pour water around it. I put a bag of beans or weights into the bowl to force the water up the sides, and then I freeze the whole thing. I find it easier to deal with, since the bowls are essentially fused together by the frozen, solid ice.