In fact, the bracing weather and hearty flavors of winter lend themselves surprisingly well to equally rich and robust ice creams. November is not the time for plain vanilla, my friends. Winter demands more decadent scoops. Think rich custards and heavenly creams studded with nuts, dried fruit and infused with all sorts of heady aromatics, even wine.
I’m kicking off a temporary column to extend through the chilly months devoted to cold weather ice creams — licks rich and decadent enough to practically warm you up.
First up: Mulled Wine Ice Cream.
I know, I know, it sounds weird — “wine ice cream? wha–?” — but trust me, it is incredible. I found the flavors so surprising, so complex and so perfectly layered that this might be the best homemade ice cream I have ever had. This is a pretty bold statement from someone who eats as much ice cream as I do.
As the name implies, this is a fairly sophisticated dessert. So if your ice cream sensibilities are strictly rooted in the classic vanilla/chocolate/cookies ‘n’ cream combos, this may not be the ice cream for you. Jake wasn’t as blown away by this recipe as I was because he’s more of a straight up, old fashioned chocolate, peanut butter and 24 pulverized Snickers bars kind of guy.
When making homemade ice cream, it’s important to follow directions more or less exactly because otherwise the ice cream won’t set up correctly or it’ll freeze into a solid block of ice.
This is a custard based ice cream, which means it’s made with egg yolks in addition to cream. I find custards to be more forgiving than strictly cream-based ice creams because yolks give the finished product an extra dose of creaminess due to yolks’ emulsifying properties. The trade-off, though, is that custards are a little more time consuming to prepare.
MULLED WINE ICE CREAM (from a 2000 recipe in The New York Times)
- 1 bottle (750 milliliters) merlot
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon allspice berries
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon orange oil or 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1 cup cream
- 4 egg yolks
In medium saucepan over high heat, combine wine, 2/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, allspice, orange zest, vanilla and orange oil or grated zest, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Uncover pan, and raise heat to medium. Simmer mixture until it is reduced by half, for about 20 minutes. Let cool, and then strain, discarding solids.
To make the base, in small saucepan, bring cream and 1/3 cup sugar to simmer. In bowl, whisk together yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Remove cream from heat, and add a little to yolk mixture to warm it, stirring constantly to keep yolks from curdling. Pour yolk mixture into hot cream, stirring cream constantly as you pour.
Return custard to stove; cook over low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon until it thickens enough to coat back of spoon. Remove from heat; strain custard through fine sieve. Let cool, and then combine with mulled wine. Chill until cold, for at least 4 hours. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.