Spiced Early Grey Tea Ice Cream

I was raggin’ on a friend of mine for being a sneakerhead the other day.  There isn’t a week that goes by that he posts a new special edition pair of Nikes.  Not to mention that entering a shoe store reduces his mental function to that of a 2-week starved hyena.

Ironically, I’m the same way entering a cooking shop.  The bright lights, the gleaming porcelain, the space age espresso maker, and the old school Japanese knives.  It was then that I finally sympathized with my friend.  Two months of wondering where my hard-earned dollars went though and I came to a conclusion: only buy a tool whose function you cannot accomplish with what you already own .  No hand mixer?  Build some damn forearm muscles and whip those eggs into submission!  No spice grinder?  Salvage the coffee grinder you found in the basement of your apartment.

At the top of my list was an ice cream maker.  I mean…have you seen the crazy things the Iron Chefs have put out with those things? And to appease my bitterness and guilt for buying that hot new microplane a few weeks back, I decided to eschew the hundred dollar contraption for a pot, whisk, and bowl.

Making homemade ice cream is deceptively simple, requires very few ingredients, and is flexible enough to allow for an infinite combination of flavors.

Just remember this basic order (don’t worry about the terms as I go in depth below): warm and flavor milk, whip and temper eggs into milk, warm it into a custard, freeze and beat occasionally, EAT!

———

Makes about 3 cups of ice cream

Equipment:
– large metal bowl
– sauce pot large enough to set the metal bowl on without it fallin into the water
– whisk
– small sauce pot
– hand/immersion blender (optional)

Ingredients:
– 1 c. whole milk or heavy cream (the latter makes for a creamier ice cream)
– 2 c. half-and-half (or any milk.  The lighter the milk, the lighter the ice cream)
– 6 Earl Grey tea bags
– 5 egg yolks
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract (or vanilla pods if it’s payday)
– 3/4 c. sugar.
– Assorted spices (I used: 1 cinnamon stick, dash of nutmeg, 1 tsp. cloves, and 2 tsps. of some Jasmine tea I had lying around for the aroma)

Paired with some banana bread.

Paired with some banana bread.

Steps:
1) Warm the whole milk, half-and-half, and sugar in a small sauce pot.  Get it to just before boiling (you’ll know as the milk starts to steam).  Stir once in a while as I found that the milk solids start to solidify at the top.

2) Turn off the heat and steep the tea bags and spices in the milk.  Shoot for about 20 mins. though letting it sit for longer will yield a stronger flavor.

3) Remove the tea bags, strain the spices out, and bring back to near boil.

4) While you’re waiting for the milk to heat up again in step 3), whisk the egg yolks and vanilla extract in a large metal bowl.

5) Set up a double boiler by filling a large pot halfway with water and setting the large metal bowl with yolks in it on top.  Crank up the heat.  The steam from the pot will heat the bowl and slowly cook the egg yolks.  (See picture below).

6) Once the milk is warm, pour a few tbsps. or so onto the yolks and whisk until evenly colored.  This is called “tempering”.  Once you’ve mixed it, add the rest of the warmed milk.

7) Allow the heat to slowly cook the milk-egg mixture into a custard.  Whisk regularly.  You’ll know it’s done when it’s thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon without dripping off.

8) If you’ve got time, pour the mixture in a separate container and chill in the fridge before freezing.  Otherwise, go straight to step 9).

9) Freeze the mixture.  Every hour or so, blend or stir vigorously.  This breaks the ice crystals that are forming and helps you get the creamy feel.  DO NOT forget this step.  Otherwise your ice cream will end up tasting like it’s been freezer burned.

Double-boiling the cream into a custard.

 

 

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