We made some plain vanilla ice-cream for Christmas, but I also wanted to try something with a bit of spice, a little more festive. A quick flick through David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop revealed a likely candidate - cinnamon ice-cream. Doesn't that sound perfect for Christmas? I actually think it's pretty good any time, which is why I'm writing about it now - new ice-cream recipes are divided pretty evenly for me into two categories; the that-was-okay-but-not-worth-making-again category, and the how-fantastic-why-did-it-take-me-so-long-to-try-this-recipe category, and this one definitely goes in the latter category.
Not content with leaving well enough alone, I decided to make it apple cinnamon ice cream by adding diced apple at the end of the churning. I am not endorsing this step - the fruit didn't really add anything and was (unsurprisingly) somewhat icy - though perhaps with a further reduced and syrupy variety of the apples it might work better, I'd suggest making it by the recipe the first time - you might be surprised at just how well the cinnamon flavour carries itself. ;-)
The flavour is derived not from powdered cinnamon, but by infusing a number of cinnamon quills in milk/cream for an hour. If you have a local warehouse-type food store it's worth checking to see if they have cinnamon quills - my ample package was only a couple of dollars from the Mediterranean Food Warehouse, whereas a 50g package can be around $7 at the supermarket, which would make this very expensive ice-cream!
Breaking them up a bit allows for maximum flavour seepage, and you will strain the custard before chilling so don't worry if some of the bits are quite small. I enjoyed this step - not only did I get to bash them up with my rolling pin (a little destruction is always fun!) but the smell was divine.
The custard making is a standard warm up the cream/milk, temper the eggs, stir over medium heat for a while kind of affair - some (but not tooooo much) patience required!
And of course you have to wait again while the custard chills - still, it's worth the wait. The recipe says to stir it over an ice bath until cool - so you can fill your sink or a very large bowl with ice and icy cold water and chill it in there. This step is not 100% necessary, though - it will help the custard chill faster and it will give you a smoother result (no skin will form) but I've never really noticed problems with my ice-cream when I skip this step.
We whipped up another batch of Donna Hay's fabulous easy caramel ice-cream last week - it continues to amaze me just how easy it is, and how magnificent the result for minimal effort, so if you're not committed to cinnamon (or don't have the patience to wait till tomorrow to eat the ice-cream!) make sure you give that one a whirl. I'm a sucker for caramel, though the cinnamon was good too...
What's your favourite flavour ice-cream? Though I'm a hardcore chocoholic generally I don't think ice-cream does chocolate justice, so caramel probably wins for me.
Cinnamon Ice-Cream (makes about 1L)
1 cup/250 ml milk
3/4 cup/150g sugar
pinch of salt
10 x 8cm (approx) cinnamon sticks, broken up
2 cups/500ml cream
5 large egg yolks
Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon stick and 1 cup/250ml of cream in a medium saucepan. Once warm, cover, remove from heat, and leave to steep at room temperature for an hour.
Re-warm the cinnamon infused milk and remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon. Pour the remaining 1 cup/150ml cream into a large bowl and set a strainer on top.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat with a spatula until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour through the strainer into the cream and stir until cool over an ice bath. Churn in an ice-cream maker until thick and creamy, then freeze until firm.