I was the first grandchild on my mother's side. It is a pretty special place to be. Not that the first is more loved - it is just a unique position. (Like the 5th grandchild .... or the 22nd ... or, well, any single one.) But I felt special. I guess that is the magic of grandmother's, and Grandma Bradshaw was certainly one of the most magical and warm of grandmothers. I have a whole raft of golden memories of times spent at my grandparent's home on the ranch. Today the one I have taken out is of "licking the paddle".
My grandmother was the oldest of 11 children and by the time I was on the scene, Grandma's house was the place for gathering - for her children, and all her siblings and their offspring. It was a happening place. In the summer when we were all together she almost always made ice cream (and root beer - but that's another story.) She made her ice cream in an old hand-crank freezer with ice and salt and a whole lot of elbow grease. When I got a bit older she upgraded to an electric! freezer - still with the salt and cubed ice. There was often a choice between vanilla or chocolate for flavour. For all the kids though, flavour was irrelevant - the best part was when the ice cream paddle was pulled from the freezer. It would go on the same old platter every time and we would grab a spoon, elbow our way through the gang and get as much ice cream as we could before it was all gone (off the paddle at any rate.) It was a blast! Ice cream in a bowl was good but fresh off the paddle was somehow better.
We made ice cream today and the kids licked the paddle. I don't know if it was as much fun for them but they certainly went at it. I used some fresh mint from my garden and a terrific recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Bauer*. My little electric ice cream freezer doesn't have nearly as cool a paddle as Grandma's did but together we sure made some delicious ice cream. It was smooth and creamy and rich and fresh. We licked the paddle clean and then the freezer too.
Backyard Mint Ice Cream
(from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer)
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp honey
A large handful of fresh mint from your back yard or farmer's market, leaves roughly torn into small pieces.
Mix about 2 Tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the milk/cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened - about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Whisk in the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Add the mint. (Tear the mint as you add it. This bruises the leaves and releases the scent into the cream.)Pour the mixture into a large zip-lock bag, seal and refrigerate to steep for 4 to 12 hours (I left mine overnight until late afternoon and it was amazing.)
Just before freezing strain the mint leaves out of the cream. Pour into the freezer canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the frozen ice cream into a storage container and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm.
We paired our Mint Ice Cream with some yummy (and healthy, shhhhh) chocolate muffins that I passed off as chocolate cupcakes. Check tomorrow for the recipe.
*This cookbook is full of drool-inducing, innovative recipes that I am anxious to try. Consider "Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone, Orange Zest and Poppy Seeds" or "Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Torched Marshmallows". Even the tamer "The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World" sounds like a must-try. I absolutely recommend it.