It seems like Easter was ages ago, but I haven’t gotten around to writing a post about the fabulous dessert that I made. So, here it is.
By now, you should know that I love ice cream. My favorite kitchen appliance is my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, which was a housewarming gift from my fabulous co-workers at DU (If we had a freezer in the office that could hold more than four Lean Cuisines, I would be happy to bring you all samples). Anytime an occasion calls for a dessert, I make Chester haul it up from the basement and I keep the bowl in the freezer at all times so I can be ready to whip up a batch of ice cream at a moment’s notice.
We decided on a slightly heavy menu for Easter dinner—pork roast, cheesy potatoes, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and my aunt’s French bread. So, we wanted to keep dessert light and decided to make a lemon ice cream. I was skeptical at first—how can lemon and cream go together? But, my aunt had mentioned that she had the flavor at the Amish stand in the Reading Terminal Market; the Amish have never steered me wrong when it comes to dessert, so I reasoned that it must be amazing. To go with it, I decided to make Madeleine cookies, thinking that their pretty shell shape, delicate flavor (with a hint of lemon), and light, cakey texture would pair well with the ice cream. Plus, it gave me an excuse to go out and buy a new baking gadget.
About the Ice Cream
There are any number of ice cream recipes out there, but those with a custard style base, like I used for the lemon ice cream are generally the best. This style contains sugar, eggs, and milk and/or cream. The finished product is rich and creamy and tends not to form ice crystals when it sits in the freezer. The eggs can be a bit tricky at first because you need to make sure that you cook them at a high enough heat to reduce the chance of food-bourne illness, but not high enough to curdle the mixture. In addition, you need to whisk the mixture continuously so that the eggs don’t scramble (the first time I made ice cream, I fished quite a few pieces of scrambled eggs out of the custard before freezing it). But, once you know a basic recipe for a custard style base, you can make it in about five minutes and add anything you like to it (fruit, chocolate chips, candy, etc.) to make an infinite number of flavors.
Makes About One Quart
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest and juice lemons.
- In a saucepan whisk together the zest, the lemon juice, the sugar, and the eggs.
- Whisk in 1 cup of the half-and-half and the vanilla, and cook the mixture over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until it just comes to a simmer.
- Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the zest, and chill it, covered with plastic wrap, until it is cold.
- Whisk in the remaining 1 cup half-and-half.
- Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Store in an airtight container and allow to ripen in freezer for a couple of hours. Random tip–If you have a rice cooker, the spoon that comes with it is an excellent tool for scraping down your ice cream maker freezer bowl and transferring the finished ice cream to a container.
About the Madeleine Cookies
From the Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, then cooled slightly
- Powdered sugar (for dusting)
- Preheat oven to 375°F and generously butter and flour pan for large madeleines (I used Pam for Baking spray to grease the pans)
- Using electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.
- Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 10-16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch.
- Random tip–rinse out the pan with cold water between batches. I found that this keeps the cookies from burning (probably because it cools the pan down a bit).
The Finished Product
Once again, the Amish know what’s good. The ice cream tasted just like the filling inside of a lemon pie. It had the tart and refreshing qualities of a sorbet, but was so much richer and creamier. Just as I thought the Madeleine cookies were the perfect complement to it—since they don’t have a ton of flour in them, they aren’t dense and filling, but their cake-like texture meant that they soaked up the ice cream like a sponge. I was worried at first because some of the cookies in the end slots of the pan got slightly burnt, but they had a caramelized, rather than charred flavor.
I should mention here that my brother contributed to the dessert by helping to make whipped cream. By this, I mean he poured the cream into a bowl, went around two or three times with a whisk, decided he was tired, and made my mom and I finish the project. Then, he took all the credit for improving my dessert.
Whatever. I know that the lemon ice cream was the star of the show–we practically licked the containers clean. I think it’s going to be my go-to flavor for the upcoming summer months. So. Much. Yum.