“Hey mom,” said Scout Son the other day. “What’s that?” He pointed to an appliance next to the toaster that had been used maybe three times in the past 15 years.
Mental groan. “Um, an ice cream machine.”
Stunned silence was followed by, “We have an ice cream maker?”
“I think technically it’s a gelato maker. Your grandfather thought we’d like it.”
More silence as he mulled over this latest parental failure.
“We have an ice cream maker and we don’t use it? That’s not right.”
“Look, we have a gelato machine and we don’t use it. It’s a pain to clean up, you have to cook a custard in order to make ice cream and all three of us have to agree on a flavor. Or, I can go to the grocery store, point at the freezer and you and your sister can each buy a half gallon of whatever, and I can get a pint of Hagen Dazs. It’s easier.”
Now, here’s the problem. Yes, it’s easier. But that kid of mine isn’t stupid. Since coming back from Italy two years ago, we dream about gelato. All rules went out the window while in Italy in July. Gelato for breakfast. Gelato for second breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Dessert. If I could have gotten them to float a scoop of vanilla gelato in my cappuccino every morning, it would have been the perfect meal.
Yes, we take ice cream very seriously. And I knew what would happen if we started using the ice cream maker. I’d have to make ice cream. A lot. Because once you have real ice cream, you don’t want to go back.
Back to the conversation at hand.
“We should make some,” says Scout Son. “Chocolate.”
“No, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to make Salted Caramel from Cooking Light so I can either put the “try it” recipe in the binder of good stuff or in the recycling bin.” So, in the interest of household cleanup, we made ice cream.
I know, that whole ice cream in Cooking Light thing threw you. I keep telling you. They’ve put taste back into food, which means by default, a little fat, but compared to that crap we’d been buying at the store, we’re in good shape. This stuff is so rich you don’t want more than a half a cup. Seriously.
Now we get into why I don’t make ice cream. You need things like candy thermometers. Which I have. But to me, you should just dump all the stuff in the machine, walk away and come back later to ice cream. Which is pretty much what we do… after we cook and cool the custard that becomes ice cream when mixed and frozen. Why this is mentally more difficult than cookie dough is beyond me.
Long story short, Scout Son was fascinated with the whole concept of having to heat the cream and brown sugar to a certain temperature, then add stuff and get that to a higher temperature. Note to self: get the kid some kitchen thermometers. Snarky Daughter wandered in halfway through the process, stared at the saucepan and said, “That’s all that goes into caramel?” Truthfully, I have no idea, but I know it’s the base for pralines, which are basically the same thing.
And finally, the notes on the recipe. It calls for 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. I’d make it a scant teaspoon. The salt gives it a kick and without it I think this would be too sweet, but ours ended up a little salty to my taste (for just caramel ice cream, they suggest dropping the salt to 1/8 teaspoon). We also omitted the flake salt that you can sprinkle over the top.
Caramel isn’t Scout Son’s favorite, so he hasn’t been inhaling this be he does like it. And he was thrilled to see a recipe in the machine’s manual for chocolate gelato. All through Italy I told him there were other flavors, but he still doesn’t believe me.
But it occurs to me, it’s summer, and on the other side of the toaster, there’s a cappuccino maker. I think it’s time to flavor my coffee this afternoon…