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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lemon Ice Cream

The Chalmerses are heading out of town tomorrow for a week in Asheville, North Carolina, with Mr. Chalmers's mom and sisters. I don't know if I'll be able to post anything while we're gone, but I thought I'd leave you all with a very good recipe just in case. I made it today to use up some lemons and milk and such in the fridge—well, to transfer them, in ice cream form, to the freezer. This is based on a recipe for lemon-buttermilk ice cream from the Times (the article's from 1998, but it was in a recent recap of ice cream articles). I had no buttermilk, and I think it'd be even better with its tang on top of the lemon's, but it's still pretty great as it is. I added the vodka on the recommendation of David Liebowitz, and I think it does help make it nice and soft right out of the freezer. Another thing I've learned in the last couple days is that it's possible to overchurn your ice cream; this is what gives it that weird, buttery mouthfeel as the butterfat separates out of the cream and milk. So check the ice cream well before you think it might be ready—that is, when it's the consistency of runny, melty frozen custard—and know that it has to finish freezing in the freezer.

That's all I've got for now. Happy ice cream!
Lemon Ice Cream

¼ cup strained fresh lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vodka
Zest of 1 lemon, candied (optional; see Note)

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the lemon juice and ¼ cup of the sugar and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Clean the saucepan; in it, combine the half-and-half, milk, and ¼ cup of the sugar. Heat until steam rises from the surface.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Gradually whisk ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the custard is thick and coats the back of a teaspoon. Transfer to a wide bowl and set in another bowl of ice water. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lemon syrup and the vodka. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the custard, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Freeze in an ice cream maker until it’s the consistency of runny soft-serve ice cream, then stir in the candied lemon zest, if using.

Note: To make candied lemon zest: Remove the zest of the lemon using a vegetable peeler. Put it in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then immediately drain the zest in a strainer. Return it to the pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil again, drain, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil a third time. Drain and return the zest to the pan and add ¼ cup water and ¼ cup sugar. Boil over medium-high heat until the zest is translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature in the syrup, then remove with a fork to a piece of waxed paper. Sprinkle with sugar and put in the refrigerator until firm and dry.

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