Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gingersnap Ice Cream...and Cookies

J is generally the ice cream maker of the family, but I gave it a try this week and was very pleased with the end product. I'm already scheming my next batch of ice cream.

This is a recipe we initially tried in Bloomington a few years ago, and thanks to the enthusiastic approval of the Christensens, we put it on our list of successes. It's been awhile since we made it, but I think it will have to become a regular flavor.

We'll start with the gingersnap cookies.

2 1/4 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
1 medium egg
1/3 c molasses

Mix dry ingredients, set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar, when creamy beat in egg and molasses. Stir in flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Cover and chill until firm, an hour or longer. Bake in 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes (8 1/2 minutes is perfect for my oven) until just dry on top by slightly soft in the middle.

Note: You can dip the tops in white sugar before baking, but if you're using them for ice cream,it's best if they're not dipped in sugar.

Another Note: These gingersnaps are more molasses-ey than ginger-ey, so depending on how you like your gingersnaps, adjust the molasses and ginger accordingly.

This is a great french vanilla base that I use for most of my ice creams, and just use add-ins according to what I'm making.

4 c half and half
3 capfuls of vanilla
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium bowl, beat together the yolks and half of the sugar. You can beat by hand using a whisk or using a hand mixer or egg beater. Beat until thoroughly smooth and creamy. (A couple of minutes by hand.)

2. Put 3 1/2 cups of half and half, the remaining half of the sugar, and the salt into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until just before it starts to simmer (do not let it simmer). Remove mixture from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

3. While the mixture is standing, prepare an ice water bath in a bowl large enough to set another bowl easily inside of it. Set aside.

4. Whisk in 1 cup of the half and half mixture in a slow stream into the yolk mixture to temper it. Add another cup of the half and half mixture; continue to whisk. Transfer the egg yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining half and half mixture. Add vanilla. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and an instant-read thermometer registers 180°, 5 to 7 minutes. (You can run your finger in a line over the back of the coated spoon. If the mixture doesn't run, but stays in place on the spoon, it should be thick enough.) I usually start at medium-high heat, then lower the heat as I go as it gets thick fast at the end and I don't want it overcooked. Remove from heat and mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk to stop the mixture from overcooking.

5. Pour custard through a medium-mesh sieve into a stainless steel bowl set in the ice-water bath. Add 2 tsp (or less) of ground ginger. Let cool completely, stirring until completely chilled. OR, pop it in the fridge for an hour or two, or til the next day.

6. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. When it has finished churning, drizzle in some molasses and crumble in 5-6 gingersnaps. If you don't mix it too much, you get a great marbled effect with the molasses. It needs to harden in the freezer for a bit after it comes out of the ice cream maker. Make sure you put it in an airtight container in the freezer. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Seriously good ice cream.

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