Some time back, when I lived a Zen existence on a bed in Bangkok Noi, I vowed that, if ever I had a kitchen again, it would be equipped with every appliance and kitchen utensil imaginable. A Kenwood chef, an Italian made espresso machine, a soy milk maker, a yogurt maker, the list goes on. And years later, moving into a house with a kitchen, this is what I have. So, when I noticed that my Cordon Bleu at Home Cookbook had several ice-creams which would need to be cobbled out over its 90 lessons, I did not hesitate to buy an ice cream maker.
Setting off to do my purchase, I had a picture of a gleaming chrome and stainless steel device, in which I would stir a perfect Creme Anglaise, hit a switch and minutes later, a soft electronic beep and blinking green light would announce it is ready for the table. So when I finally hit Verasu, Bangkok’s own Thai kitchen utensil heaven, I was surprised to be directed to a wooden bucket with a crude electric churn. It reminded me of something Heidi’s grandchildren would use to help making butter on a crisp summers day in the Alps. ” Put salt and ice and motor to do ice cream with auto,” the salesman announced in broken Thinglish. “And wood very special,” he continued, “…smell good. ”
Wow, my kitchen could do with an outdated appliance from the Alps which smells good.
Having a choice between two models (the other one was odorless), I bought the smelly one. Though I have never heard of mahogany infused ice cream, I figured the salesman probably meant that the wood itself was of a better quality.
Though I would soon find out, quality was not what they had in mind when coming up with this device. The first time I used it, the motor broke, and a quick look at the crude designed, realised it was one of those things which were made to break. I would not bother taking it back. On the bright side, it had a hand sling, so the device was not rendered completely useless.
Yesterday I used it for the second time (its been more than a year) and just as I was on the last minute of the 20 minute hand-churn session, the screws holding the churning part broke and the whole device sprang apart in what looked surprisingly like one of those wooden coocoo clocks coming undone in a Loony Tune Cartoon. Furious, I decided there and then that this smell-good, rubbish butter-churner would, within the hour, be thrown out with the rest of the trash.
No time for that now – the ice cream was done, on the verge of melting in the 40C /100F heat, so, with no time to waste, I quickly scraped out the soft ice cream from the aluminum churning cylinder, into a pre chilled ceramic bowl, and rushed the mix to the freezer before it could turn into a full blown culinary emergency. I returned to the watery mess in the lounge and started cleaning up. However,not before I ran my finger over the inners of the mostly cleaned out cylinder for a small taste of the final result.
It was absolutely sublime. Perhaps one of the best Ice Creams Ive ever had.
Greedily I proceeded to clean out the rest of the holder, and I would have happily licked out the cylinder, if only I had a 14 inch tongue that could reach its chilled corners.
I quickly put the device back together again, and tightened the many screws that had come loose during its 40 minute life cycle. I had already had a change of mind : this fragrant vintage wooden home-made ice-cream maker was definitely a keeper.
What follows is the recipe for the superb ice cream mix. Its basically a classic creme anglaise to which instant coffee is added , cooled and then turned into ice cream.
Café liégeois / Coffee Ice cream Sunday
4 egg yolks (eggs should be room temperature before separating)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tablespoon instant coffee
3/4 cup black filter coffee well- chilled
coffee beans for decoration.
1) Chill mixing bowl and 6 dessert glasses in the freezer.
2) Prepare the ice cream
Make a creme anglaise :
- Add cream, milk and vanilla essence to a heavy bottomed pot and bring to boil, cover set aside
- Add the sugar and the yolks to a mixing bowl and whisk at high speed until it is pale yellow, and creamy and runs like a ribbon off the whisk.
- Bring the milk/cream to boil again
- Gradually whisk in half of the milk/cream mixture
- Then whisk in the remainder. Whisk evenly and slowly, you do not want to end up with a bowl of froth.
- Prepare a double boiler : the water at the bottom should simmer, not boil, and the top bowl should not come into contact with the water below. Basically you are slow steaming the mix at the top.
- With the water simmering over medium-low heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mix starts to thicken and a trail is left when running your finger over the back of a dessert spoon. It should take no longer than 5 -10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee into the mix.
- Set aside on counter to cool, stirring occasionally so that a film is not left on top. (I stir the mix in front of a fan to cool it down quickly)
- When completely cooled, pour into ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturers instructions. Place in the freezer for 4-6 hours until set until firm but not hard.
- Using the chilled dessert bowls, pour about 2-3 tablespoons of the chilled black coffee to cover the bottom, followed by the same quantity of fresh whipping cream, pouring it over an inverted dessert spoon to prevent splashing, same as what you would for irish coffee
- Using a ice cream scoop dunked in warm water, scoop out the ice cream and carefully place it on top of the coffee/cream mix.
- Add a coffee bean or two on top of the ice cream for decoration.
- Serve immediately.