I’ve been mulling this one over for some time, and now that the I’ll-eat-anything-as-long-as-it’s-cold days are here, I decided it needed to see the light of day. And the inside of my freezer.
I made a batch of crème fraîche recently. Some heavy cream was nearing the end of it’s life as cream, and I also had a lot of buttermilk. Turning cream into crème fraîche (is this yet another example of “repurposing?”) is an excellent way to extend its life. All you need are proportions, not a true recipe. I like a good, thick crème fraîche, so I err on the high side with the buttermilk: 8 ounces of heavy cream to 2 or 3 ounces of buttermilk will give you that. Whisk it together, then cover with plastic. You can let it sit at room temperature for anywhere from 25 to 36 hours, or you can warm it gently for about 12 hours. I use my yogurt maker, and within 12 hours, it’s perfect. Before I had a yogurt maker, I used to pour the mixture into a glass jar with a lid, wrap it in a heating pad secured with rubber bands and set on Low, and let it sit overnight. The result was identical.
CRÈME FRAÎCHE ICE CREAM
Makes about 1 quart
Crème fraîche has a subtle, deep flavor, and its texture is incomparable – really not like sour cream at all. Commercial sour cream contains several artificial thickening agents, whereas crème fraîche is thickened by nothing but its own lovely proteins and naturally-occurring bacteria. I’ve sweetened this exclusively with honey for another significant layer of flavor.
Even I might not eat this for dinner. But breakfast? In a smoothie? Oh, yes.
8 ounces whole or 2% milk
1 ounce honey
Pinch of sea or kosher salt
4 yolks from large eggs
1 ounce honey
8 ounces crème fraîche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Measure milk, honey, and salt into a stainless steel saucepan. Stir, then place over medium heat. Bring it to a scald – tiny, uniform bubbles will appear all the way around the edge.
- Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and honey together in a stainless steel mixing bowl. When the milk mixture reaches its scald, temper it into the yolks by pouring it in very slowly, whisking all the while. Rinse the saucepan and fill it 1/3 with hot water.
- Return the pan to medium heat and place the bowl containing the yolk mixture over it, effectively creating a double boiler (or bain marie). Whisk continuously as you cook it up to 165 degrees. When it reaches that temperature, remove it from the heat and place over an ice water bath. Stir it now and then. When the mixture reaches 50 degrees, add the cold crème fraîche and the vanilla extract.
- Hopefully you’ve remembered to freeze the cylinder to your ice cream machine overnight. I just keep mine in the freezer all the time, when not in use, especially this time of year. Set it on the machine and place the dasher inside. Affix the cover, and turn on the machine. Now you can pour in your chilled custard. Be certain never to pour the custard into a stationary cylinder, then turn on the machine. My sister did that once, and the dasher had enough time to quickly freeze to the cylinder, and when the motor was turned on, the cylinder began to rotate, snapping the dasher as it did.
- Allow the custard to spin, or churn, until nearly doubled in volume, about 20-25 minutes. When it’s as hot as it is these days, I set up the whole works in my basement laundry room where it is much cooler and I get a longer spin from the cylinder because the air temperature isn’t warming it too quickly.
- When done, scrape the ice cream into a freezer container. The shallower it is, the faster the ice cream will freeze, if you’re impatient and don’t want to wait while it freezes overnight.
- Wash the cylinder with cool, soapy water and set it back in the freezer upside down. Never run it through a dishwasher. The high heat compromises the ability of the gel to chill as much as it should.