Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buttermilk Gelato

Aww yeah! A few years ago I had the best ice cream flavor I'd ever had at Ici in Berkeley, CA. Ici is one of those ice cream shops that changes its flavor rotation daily. For those of you who've never been or never heard of it, it's also the ice cream creation of a former Chez Panisse pastry chef (what culinary gem in the Bay Area is not run by Chez Panisse veterans?). Ici is one of those ice cream shops that makes me feel happy. The sweets are special, not just run-of-the-mill. A cone from here (homemade, with a dollop of chocolate in the bottom) is a perfect celebration for no good reason, or for any reason! Anyway, yes, back to the best flavor I had ever had: It was buttermilk!
And since the flavors changed so frequently, I never had it again. Once, and then never again! So sad. I've tried similar sounding flavors other places since then, but none has been as good.

I started making experimenting with making ice cream and gelato comfortably (read: just swingin it, no recipes or precise measurements needed) years ago. This summer has been the best frozen treat summer of my life! Here at 666, we've been churning out both fruity and creamy popsicles, flavors including chili lime mango, strawberry mint, lemonade, and bittersweet chocolate, as well as gelato. So far, we've made chamomile (from fresh flowers picked by invitation from an old kitchen friend), mint chocolate chip, and ... my long lost favorite !!! Buttermilk!

Here's my buttermilk recipe. It makes 1 quart. The key is to eat it within the first week of freezing it, because otherwise it gets pretty icey. You need an ice cream maker, too. I use this one, which is not too expensive an works very well for small-ish batch ice cream.

2 c whole milk
2 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 c buttermilk
juice from 1 1/2 lemons

In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. As it heats, whisk sugar and cornstarch in one bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. When milk is just about to boil, temper the egg yolks to raise their temperature by adding some of the hot milk to the yolks and mixing well. Add warm egg yolks to pot and stir rapidly. Continue stirring, and then add the sugar/cornstarch mix. It is important to whisk this well as you want as few clumps to form as possible. When the custard is beginning to boil, turn off and remove from heat. Whisk in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Pour through a sieve and cool to room temperature. Then cover and cool in fridge at least 3 hrs. When completely cool, Freeze in ice cream maker.

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