Friday, September 25, 2009

Peaches, lovely peaches

I've wanted to make peach ice cream for a while and I finally did about a week ago. I bought some beautiful end-of-summer North Carolina peaches from the local produce stand and let them ripen. Letting them ripen was like torture. I wanted them to be ready NOW! About four agonizing days later, I determined they were ripe. (I even used that "trick" and put an apple in the paper bag with the peaches in order to ripen them faster.)


The most tedious step in this ice cream recipe was peeling all those peaches, and even that was easy as the skins just peeled right off in big, smooth, sheets.

Half of the peaches were heated with honey and then pureed. Here is the puree although I think it looks more like slightly chunky egg yolks in this picture.

After that, it was ice cream as usual - heat the dairy, add sugar, vanilla, eggs, etc, chill, then churn. At the end of the churning, I added the rest of the peaches which were finely diced.

This was very good and I highly recommend it if you have four peaches around. I think when I make this again, I will amp up the peach flavor and use more for the puree. But I'll have to be careful if I do that since the added puree would contain more water and that might give the ice cream an icier texture. Steve said it would also be good with a little cinnamon. I also played with the dairy this time. If you have read my other blog entries about ice cream, you'll recall I use mainly heavy cream and half and half. I tried using half and half and whole milk once but it didn't get creamy enough. This time, I used light cream and whole milk. Voila! A winning combination that gave me the creaminess and texture I wanted while cutting out a bit of the fat.

I followed Dorie Greenspan's recipe to the letter except for the dairy. She wanted me to use heavy cream. Here is the recipe and my adaptation is noted:

Honey Peach Ice Cream
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

4 large ripe peaches (about 2 pounds), peeled and pitted
1/4 cup honey
1 cup whole milk (*adaptation: 3/4 cup)
1 cup heavy cream (*adaptation: 1 1/4 cup light cream)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Coarsely chop half the peaches into 1/2 chunks and toss them into a small saucepan. Add the honey and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a blender or food processor and whir to puree. (Alternatively, use a hand blender. *This is what I did as it's easier to clean up but be careful of spatter when hand blending the hot mixture.) Set the peach puree aside while you make the custard.

Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just slightly thickened. Still whisking, drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into a 2-quart glass measuring cup or clean heatproof bowl. (*I poured it through a fine mesh strainer just in case there were milk or egg solids.) Stir in the vanilla and peach puree.

Refrigerate the custard until chilled.

Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, finely dice the remaining 2 peaches, then, just before the ice cream is thickened and ready, add the peaches and churn to blend. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze.

Baking also included recipes & suggestions for several more flavors I'd like to try: chocolate ganache, chocolate peppermint sorbet, burnt sugar, and blueberry-sour cream. Maybe you'll read about one of those some day.

Happy ice cream!

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