Monday, November 17, 2008

Ice Cream Party

After attempting to make ice cream by hand this summer, I had been on the lookout for an ice cream maker at a reasonable price for several weeks. Finally, I found the Rival Electric Ice Cream Maker on markdown at Walmart for $20. I scooped it up, thinking of all the money I will be saving on ice cream this winter!

Really, I am simply offended that the premium ice cream manufacturers would have the audacity to redesign their “half gallon” packages to contain only 1.75 quarts – and think we would not notice. They keep raising their prices and making their packages smaller. The King Kullen brand is the only option in the freezer that is still a real half gallon.

I also read that bargain brands are artificially fluffed up to a greater volume with air. So I am left not knowing whom to believe and what is really a good value. If I make it myself, I know exactly how much of what ingredients are in it.

I also thought this might make a good activity for my daughter’s birthday party in December. From reading the directions on the box, it looked like we could mix together the ingredients at the beginning of the party, and two hours later be eating it.

I purchased the ingredients for Cookies ‘n’ Cream yesterday. I figured we would give the machine a test run today. The kids had a half day, and I was picking them up from school along with a classmate of my eldest daughter. On the way home, I told them we would start mixing as soon as we got home, so that it would be ready to eat by mid-afternoon. If anything went wrong, I had purchased Blue Bunny Cookies ‘n’ Cream as a backup.

I got out the half-and-half and started reading the recipe in greater detail. I had already made several errors! Thinking that the “whipping cream” was for the top of the ice cream, I had purchased a can of whipped cream instead. Now all I had was milk and half-and-half. Oh well, it would have to do.

I also could not find rock salt. The closest thing I could find was course kosher salt. This was for the melting of the ice around the mixing canister. I also had not made enough ice. But we had set out to make ice cream and, by golly, we were going to make ice cream.

The recipe also called for some cooking, which the girls were not interested in. I scalded the milk, dissolved the sugar, and mixed in six cups of milk and the entire quart of half-and-half. This now had to be refrigerated for a half hour. The girls played a game of chess.

Finally it was time to use the machine. We poured the mixture into the canister, surrounded it by ice, layered with kosher salt, and set the mixer into motion. The girls crushed a bag of Oreos and ate another. They put in one whole cookie as a “prize” for whoever got it in the end.

After a half hour of mixing, I checked the mixture. It looked more like a milkshake than ice cream. We added the crushed cookies and let the mixer work for another ten minutes.

I opened the canister. “I don’t know girls. Do you want to taste it and tell me what you think?”

We all agreed it was yummy, for a milkshake. Our guest voted for eating it just as it was. My girls wanted to let it freeze for a while.

So I put the canister in the freezer for a half hour. This made it colder, but not any more solid. Our guest would have to leave soon.

I set up the table and made a proposal. We would use the Blue Bunny ice cream as the “primary” base for our ice cream sundaes and dribble our milkshake on top. We also had whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherries to add. This was agreeable to all.

I had a small cup of it and it was good – you could taste the real cream – and filling as well.

The girls piled their bowls high with all the ice cream and trimmings. They were not half done when they were moaning that they could not eat anymore. “Were your eyes bigger than your stomachs?” I teased them.

I wrapped up my kids’ bowls for after dinner. Our guest had nothing left but a black, liquidy mess of Oreo-milkshake.

After dinner, I checked the freezer. Part of the ice cream had solidified – the rest was still liquid. At 9:00 p.m. (mind you, this process had started at noon), the ice cream was starting to look as it should, with only ten percent of it looking melted. I will be sure to report on how it tastes tomorrow night!

As in my story about the garden bulbs that were eaten by moles, this day was all about the process. The goal was to do something together with my children, hopefully to produce something delicious. We did have fun, and we did have a good dessert. Things did not turn out exactly as expected, but that is all part of the learning process.

If we ever do perfect the art of homemade ice cream, they will never forget the trials and errors that went into it. And if we don’t? No big deal – I’ll just have to keep sucking it up as I pay for those overpriced, undersized containers of ice cream.

I am also still on the lookout for a good girls’ party activity.

The Rival Ice Cream Maker pictured above is available at Target for $24.99. Just read the instructions before you start!

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

Making ice cream from scratch is a very noble mom endeavor!