ice cream

Are there certain household chores you dread more than others?  For me, it’s a pretty short list but among my least favorite tasks is cleaning out the fridge/freezer.  As a result, our freezer has been in a perpetually maxed out state for way too long.  I always have to stop and ask myself whether I can fit something in the freezer before it makes its way into my cart at the grocery store :)  As the first hints of warm spring weather have begun to arrive I keep thinking how nice homemade ice cream would be but with no room in the freezer for the ice cream canister, I’ve had to do without.  Finally, ice cream cravings prevailed over laziness last week and I cleared some space in the freezer.  It really wasn’t that bad, which makes me wonder why I was dreading it so much in the first place.  The only hard work left to do was deciding which recipe to try first.

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I was sort of tempted to pull an old favorite from the archives; this chocolate-peanut butter and the lemon curd ice cream were top contenders, the former is one of Shane’s most requested and the latter one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.  I kept coming back, though, to this cinnamon toast ice cream I’d flagged on Epicurious a while ago.  As a kid, I often had cinnamon toast for breakfast – (so simple yet so good!), and I loved the sugary cereal with the totally 80′s commercial too.  I wasn’t convinced an ice cream would be able to deliver the classic buttery cinnamon flavor but I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.

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This recipe is a bit time consuming and leaves a sinkful of dirty dishes in its wake, but I think it’s worth the effort.  The base is fantastic – creamy and rich with a ton of cinnamon flavor; I would absolutely have eaten it on its own.  The recipe, however, calls for taking things a step further by folding homemade cinnamon-sugar bread cubes into the base.  I know, it sounds really strange (and trust me, I was skeptical too) but it works.  The cubes are delicious, I nibbled on more than a few as I made the custard, and they actually stay crunchy in the ice cream for a few days.  If you’re wary, or don’t think the ice cream would be eaten that quickly at your house, you could make the cubes, store them in an airtight container, and sprinkle them over your ice cream as a topping instead of a mix-in.  It’s a good way to use whatever bread you might have hanging around – I used leftover challah for mine.

With all of my newfound freezer space expect to see many more ice cream recipes over the next few months! 

Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream
from Gourmet, August 2006 via Epicurious

2 cups whole milk
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 slices firm white sandwich bread
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon molasses
1 cup heavy cream

Combine the milk and cinnamon sticks in a 2-qt saucepan.  Bring the milk to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pan – allow to steep for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 F with racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Cut 3 slices of the bread into 1/4-inch cubes and transfer them to a medium bowl.  Pulse the remaining 2 slices of bread in your food processor to make bread crumbs.  In a small bowl whisk the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together.  Drizzle about 3/4 of the mixture over the cubes of bread, tossing to coat them evenly.  Transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets, spreading the cubes in a single layer.  Add the bread crumbs to the remaining butter mixture and stir to coat.  Spread on the second prepared baking sheet. 

Bake the bread cubes and crumbs for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.  Stir occasionally and rotate the pans from top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking.  Leave on the pans and set aside to cool.  Once cool, transfer the bread crumbs to a heatproof bowl.

Bring the milk back to a boil and then pour it over the bread crumbs.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then pour the milk through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan.  Press on the solids to extract as much milk as possible.  Discard the solids afterward.

In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks, granulated sugar, molasses and a pinch of salt together.  Bring the milk to a boil once again.  Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (it will register between 170 and 175 F on an instant read thermometer).

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream.  Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl.  Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.  Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Fold in the bread cubes once churned, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.