Last week when I rediscovered my ice cream maker, I told you about the first time Nicole and I visited Milwaukee and were perplexed by this frozen treat. Well, despite being hung up on when we called to inquire what it was, we made a trip to Kopp's to investigate.
The flavor that day (and this was back when they only had one flavor a day instead of two) was strawberry. Our moms were with us, and all four of us had a scoop. And all four of us intantly fell in love with this creamy, cold deliciousness!
We didn't know this at the time, but the primary difference between frozen custard and ice cream is the addition of egg yolks to the cream and sugar base. (Which, looking back on it, is obvious ... if not by the taste then definitely by the name!) I didn't know until I happened to catch an episode of "Unwrapped" the other night that there are two other things that distinguish custard from traditional ice cream. First, air is blended into the ingredients until its volume increases by about 20 percent, whereas ice cream can have as much as 100 percent air blended in (meaning half of the final product is air). Also, commercially-produced frozen custard requires a mixer that scrapes the custard from the barrel walls and out a tube into the serving container, ensuring the ice crystals formed are very small (and you thought those machines at Kopp's were just for show!). Marc Summers also informed me that the ideal temperature at which to serve frozen custard is between 15 and 20 degrees.
While my ice cream maker wouldn't give me the amount of control you need over the ingredients to make true, authentic frozen custard, I could at least get the base right. I came across a recipe that someone re-tweeted and, after a little research, determined this would yield the best base (mostly because others seemed to take shortcuts ... and I don't trust shortcuts). The strawberries in the freezer were calling my name, so I decided to recreate our original Kopp's experience (with the added bonus of crossing another recipe off my wishlist)!
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat milk, sugar, salt, and 1 cup cream over medium heat. When milk is warm, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup cream in a large bowl. Set a fine mesh strainer on top and set aside. Place thawed, chopped strawberries in a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the warmed milk mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan and whisk to combine. Return the saucepan to medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour through the mesh strainer into remaining cream (if it's very thick like mine was, press the mixture that sticks to the strainer through with the back of a wodden spoon ... there's no sense wasting it!). Add vanilla extract and stir over a bowl of ice water until cooled to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Churn in ice cream maker according to directions (I followed the same steps I did for my chocolate toffee ice cream). With 5 to 7 minutes left to churn, add the strawberries. Serve fresh from the ice cream maker (which is when it tastes most like authentic custard) and store the rest in the freezer in an airtight container (but it won't last long!).
All I can say is holy cow. You know how head over heels Bill was for my chocolate ice cream? He loved this even more. I told Steph and Tiff I had a hunch it would be delicious because when I stuck my finger in the base before putting it in the fridge on Saturday night, it was so yummy that I could have polished it off then and there. Just imagine how much yummier it was when it was frozen!
Forget about the air-blending, ice crystal-prevention, and barrel-scraping! This seriously tasted like the real thing! It was super rich, ultra creamy, and had just the right berry-licious balance of sweet and tart! Now that I've got this down, the sky's the limit in terms of flavor combinations! Guess you'll have to wait and see what I come up with next :)