I used to have a problem. I had an obssession with watching baseball. In college I literally recorded every single Red Sox game I had to miss for class (silly classes always impeding fun activities). This was not recorded with a DVR. TAPED. This was 6-10 years ago, folks. I feel slightly old.
Anyway, I thought this was normal.
Fast forward to 2011. Although my eyes cannot possibly be glued to the screen for 3+ hours a night, I still try to catch as many games as I can. As I attempted to record my team’s home opener (DVR) last Friday I hear behind me, “You’re recording the game? Why don’t you just watch ESPN highlights?.”
“Phhhhhhhh! Blasphemy!” He just doesn’t understand.
Now that food has become my career, it only makes sense to channel my love of the game into a few recipes. Of course, I couldn’t just make anything ordinary.
Cracker Jack ice cream with dulce de leche and vanilla bean.
I don’t think I can ever go back to store-bought ice cream again. This ice cream is PERFECT.
Lucky for you, this recipe of awesomeness does not necessarily require an ice cream maker.
First I started with a creamy vanilla ice cream recipe that I adapted from The Perfect Scoop.
Then I added some oomph for a little baseball nostalgia.
Here are the ingredients you need:
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 vanilla bean, or pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
Cracker Jacks (Found in convenience stores and grocery stores. You can locate which stores sell it by you by plugging in your zip code here.)
Dulce de leche or caramel
Ice cream cones
MORE Cracker Jacks (you can never really have too much)
(bars are located in baking aisle of your local grocery store)
Here’s what you do:
Start out with your whole milk, sugar, and salt.
Heat it up in a sauce pan on medium to medium low.
As it heats up, grab your vanilla. You have choices here.
I strongly suggest using a vanilla bean (or very good quality extract). And when I say strongly suggest, I really mean that I will come to your kitchen and bitch slap you if I catch you with cheap vanilla extract. The taste of vanilla bean makes a world of a difference.
Don’t get me wrong, I use extract all of the time. Vanilla beans can be very pricey. When I use extract, though, it’s the GOOD stuff. The store brands (or just any cheap brand) makes me shudder. If you are going through the effort to make your own ice cream, use quality ingredients.
Anywhoodles, back to the recipe. I’m certain you can guess that I picked the vanilla bean. Cut the vanilla bean in half, then use a small knife to scrape the tiny beans into the pot.
Remove your pot from the stove, cover it, and let it sit for one hour. This helps the milk become infused with vanilla goodness.
I like to use a timer, because I can barely remember where the car was last parked.
If you like, you can grab about 1/3 of a cup of rum or vodka and pour it into a jar. Put the leftover vanilla beans into the jar, completely immersing it into the alcohol. Store in a very dark place for about six months, adding additional leftover vanilla beans at any time.
Now set up an ice bath.
Large bowl, 1/3 filled with water and ice cubes. Medium bowl on top. The medium bowl should hold about 8 cups (2 quarts, 1/2 gallon, 64 ounces, or equivalent to about two liters of cola).
Measure out your 2 cups of cream.
Pour the cream into the bowl sitting in the ice bath. Set a strainer on top.
Grab six eggs.
Separate the yolks from the whites.
Keep the yolks in a bowl large enough to add liquid.
Whisk the yolks.
Now take your vanilla milk and warm up again on stove.
Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolks while whisking it. Add a little at a time.
Don’t forget to whisk it while you pour.
The reason that you gradually mix in the milk is so you don’t “cook” the eggs. This is part of the process of making a custard that ensures a creamy ice cream.
Pour your mixture back into pan and cook on medium to medium low heat.
Notice how the liquid drips easily off of the spatula.
The custard is not yet thick enough.
Until it hangs on your spatula like this:
Now pour your custard into the strainer to get rid of lumps.
Nobody likes lumpy custard.
Mix the cream and custard. then pour into a bowl.
Cover and pop into your fridge.
Chill for 1-2 hours, until cool throughout.
Move it to your freezer for about 30 minutes.
Yes, my freezer is tiny. Yes, that chicken below is freezer burnt.
It should start to freeze a little around the edges. Take the bowl out and mix it with a mixer, or by hand with a whisk. I used a stand alone mixer.
Now pop it back into freezer for another 30 minutes.
Take it out. Notice the edges are frozen here.
Look how it is starting to thicken. Try a taste. Sooooooo good.
Place it back into the freezer one more final time. Why? The more you mix it in between periods of freezing, the more you break up the crystals. This makes the consistency silky and creamy.
After the last 30 minutes, take it out and mix for the last time.
Now prepare the mix-ins. Grab some caramel or ducle de leche (Spanish caramel). I chose dulce de leche because the flavor has something deep and rich about it that I prefer over caramel. I make my dulce de leche from scratch. You can buy either at a store.
Chop up the Cracker Jacks into perfect little pieces so you get a taste in your ice cream, without too much chew.
Now layer in a bowl. Swirl your caramel and sprinkle some Cracker Jacks.
Carefully scoop the ice cream on, the add another layer of the mix-ins.
Keep going until you run out of ice cream.
See all of the layers?
Place (or shove if your freezer is anything like mine) back into freezer to allow the ice cream to harden. Notice above how I also covered it with Saran Wrap. Just to avoid any ice crystals. Ewe.
Good thing I don’t have to share this ice cream with anyone.
I love the texture in this ice cream. The saltiness from the peanuts balance the sweetness of the Cracker Jacks. You have this smooth ice cream with light fluffy popcorn and crunchy peanuts.
The only thing that would make this perfect is an ice cream cone…Which got me thinking:
Break up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate. Place in a heat safe container. One that is deep enough to dip into. I used a mug.
I heated it in the microwave in 5 to 10 second spurts. You need to do this because you are trying to melt it without cooking it. If the chocolate is over cooked, it freezes. In other words, it turns into lumpy doodoo mush that is totally useless.
Ha ha, I just said doodoo.
Let it cool for a couple of minutes. Then dip your sugar cone in.
Let it thicken up around the rim, then roll it in the Cracker Jacks. If they are not sticking, feel free to lay it into the kernels, and use you hands to apply wherever they are not sticking on their own.
Then place on parchment paper to dry.
I foresee myself eating this on the couch while watching tomorrow night’s game, sans the overpriced tickets and cramped seats.