I can not believe the summer is gone. Yes, I tried very hard to enjoy my weeks of free days in the late spring before I started residency. Yes, I mentally prepared myself for residency. But, no, one can not be fully prepared for residency. The schedule is terrible, the feelings of inadequacy abound and, worst of all, my time for culinary experiments is VERY limited.
I did have a few moments, however, that I was able to spend in the kitchen amidst the moments of being at the hospital and sleeping (since that is all I feel like I do at this point). One of my favorites of the summer was THIS…
Wait for it. Nutella. Ice. Cream. While Brandon may think that Nutella unadultered on a spoon is the way God intended us to enjoy this luscious substance (and I can’t say I disagree), I wanted to experiment a bit.
I do love ice cream during any season, but it seems that the summer is when we actually break out the electric ice cream maker and churn some of our own frozen treats. When I first got the ice cream maker, I played it safe with one-note sorbets and fairly expected flavors. As you’ll see, however, I have branched out.
This particular recipe requires that you make a custard with egg yolks, cream and half & half. This is base for many ice cream recipes, but Nutella is added to the custard mix instead of sugar. I’d say it’s not a fair swap and is, instead, an upgrade.
Making a custard may seem daunting, but its quite simple. STIR until THICK. Stir because you don’t want the dairy sitting on the bottom of the pan to scorch. You’ll know when the custard has thickened because you can leave a trail with your finger on the back of a wooden spoon. You’ll then need to strain the custard to remove any lumps since even if you are the world’s best stirrer, there will likely be some coagulated egg that should be removed before freezing.
I have learned in many circumstances, residency and cooking being only two, that I am not the most patient person. But I have also learned that one can not rush homemade ice cream. There are two points at which custard-based ice creams should be in the refrigerator or freezer to just chill (quite literally). The first time is when it is still hot and after it has been strained – the custard needs to be chilled before it can be frozen. (Cover with plastic wrap so a skin does not form on top of the custard as it cools) After freezing it in the ice cream maker, you typically have pseudo-soft serve, so scooping the almost-frozen mixture into a container and allowing it to harden in the freezer for a few hours delivers the fully-frozen product I’m after.
I have branched out in my ice cream making since my first melon sorbet. And I couldn’t leave well enough alone – I didn’t just make Nutella ice cream. I also mixed in some homemade hazlenut-chocolate brittle just before scooping it into the container for it’s final freeze. Add-ins make an almost perfect product heavenly with complimentary flavors and often a delightful crunch.
This brittle required me to make a toffee on the stovetop, pour it over blanched hazelnuts, sprinkle on some chocolate to melt, spread and let the whole thing cool. I then broke it up, reserved a few larger pieces for garnish, and dumped a handful into the ice cream maker.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy a pint of good ice cream anytime of the year, but as the days get shorter, and the temperatures get cooler, I think I may try my hand at one more batch so I am not screaming for ice cream until next year.
CRUNCHY NUTELLA ICE CREAM
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup half & half
- 1 cup room-temperature Nutella
- pinch kosher salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Whisk together yolks, half & half, Nutella, and salt. Set aside.
- Heat cream until right before it comes to the boil (it will bubble along the edges). Turn off heat. Slowly whisk hot cream into the Nutella/yolk mixture. Pour mix back into pot and stir constantly on medium heat until until it thickens slightly. It’s ready when you draw your finger along the back of a wooden spoon and your finger leaves a trail. Turn off heat.
- Meanwhile, add a few cups of ice to a large bowl. Put a smaller bowl in the larger bowl. Place a fine strainer on top of the small bowl. Set aside.
- Pour custard through strainer into the small bowl. Add just enough water to the ice so that the cold water rises up to the level of the custard. Stir occasionally. When cool, remove from ice bath and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours.
- Churn the ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. When frozen, add brittle (below).
- Freeze for a few hours or overnight.
Chocolate-Hazlenut Buttercrunch Toffee
(Adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
- 2 cups (8 ounces, 225 g) hazelnuts, blanched and chopped between ‘fine’ and ‘coarse’
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 115 g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- a nice, big pinch of salt
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 ounces (140 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips
- Lightly oil a baking sheet with an unflavored vegetable oil.
- Sprinkle half the nuts into a rectangle about 8″ x 10″ (20 x 25 cm) on the baking sheet.
- In a medium heavy-duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the water, butter, salt, and both sugars. Cook, stirring as little as possible, until the thermometer reads 300 F degrees. Have the vanilla and baking soda handy.
- Immediately remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.
- Quickly pour the mixture over the nuts on the baking sheet. Try to pour the mixture so it forms a relatively even layer. (If necessary, gently but quickly spread with a spatula, but don’t overwork it.)
- Strew the chocolate pieces over the top and let stand 2 minutes, then spread in an even layer
- Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the chocolate and gently press them in with your hands.
- Cool completely and break into pieces to serve.