Monday, July 14, 2014

The Best Peach Ice Cream Ever

For me at least, this title is absolutely the truth. The. Best. Ever.

If you like peaches even marginally, you would still love this ice cream. I love peaches, though I often avoid buying them because unless you live in the Peach Belt and get them fresh from the tree, in too many instances they end up being mealy, or just plain hard. Fresh Georgia peaches are the best ever, particularly eaten fresh with the juices running down your face and arms. If you've never had peaches that fresh, I am truly sorry.

Freshly churned Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream with Peach Galette

What brings me to peach things in general is my sister-in-law's birthday. Sherri's favorite fruit, bar none, is peaches. Last year for her birthday she requested a Peach Crisp. It was good, but for me it really didn't beat my Apple Crisp. Sherri loved it though, and that was the important thing. 

This year, I was way ahead of her. I had already planned the desserts, two things I wanted to try: Peach Galette and Peach Ice Cream. Sherri was very happy indeed. There was a recipe I had used in past for a cheesecake ice cream, and my idea was to incorporate cream cheese into this recipe for peach ice cream. One reason is that, for me, a really creamy mouth feel is one of the most important things about an ice cream. For this reason I have so loved Frost's Gelato when visiting my sister in Tucson. The gelato is so very creamy in the mouth, making it a most sensual experience. So many ice creams just lack that feeling. Sorbet or sherbet obviously do not have that creaminess, but that is expected. When a carton says "ice cream" I expect a certain level of "creaminess". 
Fresh Churned, still in container

My husband, ever the gadget person, bought an ice cream maker many years ago when we had just gotten together. I must admit, it is not used nearly often enough. Because it is a large, contained, refrigerated device and takes up a lot of real estate on my counter, it is generally kept somewhere not very convenient. I had it in the basement here, and used it last summer - once. Running downstairs (17 steps, here) to turn the machine on 5 minutes before using it, so it chills, back upstairs for those 5 minutes to do other things, back downstairs to pour in the ice cream mixture, back upstairs for 30 minutes, back downstairs to get it from the machine, back upstairs (102 stairs by now)... That's a lot of really good exercise, granted. However, when I have been on my feet preparing a big meal (which is usually when I decide to make ice cream!) the last thing I want is more exercise. So, I brought the machine into my kitchen. I actually do have a spot here in this house where it works. Yesterday, I made the peach ice cream and it was the - most - amazing - ever. 

I started by reading a whole lot of peach ice cream recipes. They vary from pureeing together milk, peaches, sugar and vanilla and churning, to a far longer process where the peaches are cooked skin on and passed through a fine sieve. That was already one too many steps for me. I did not take the quickest route, because I was really hunting for whatever would make the creamiest mouth feel. I chose to cook down the peaches for a more concentrated flavor, but I peeled them so I would not need to mess with a fine sieve. I pondered for quite some time how or when to incorporate the cream cheese into the mixture. I also wanted to use a "custard" mixture of cream and egg yolks, again to further that creamy mouth feel. Unfortunately, my ice cream machine will only accommodate 2 to 3 cups of mixture at a time and I ended up with 5 cups once it was done. I used only 3 cups of the mix for the ice cream last night. It was such a thick mixture even before churning that it could have been eaten as a pudding. The machine churned it with no problems and the result was so smooth, thick and creamy my husband deemed it a hybrid - frozen pudding. I don't care - it was just that good. This morning I made a second batch of the custard part of the recipe and once cold, combined it with the remaining peach mixture and churned. It turned out equally creamy, but with slightly less peach flavor. *

If you want to save on calories, you could use any milk down to 1%. Coconut milk, while not low calorie, would also work well in this ice cream. I believe this recipe could be taken down to a smaller output by using 1 1/2 pounds peaches, 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to cook the peaches. Next, use 2 - 3 tablespoons sugar to 2/3 cup milk or cream and 3 egg yolks for the custard and 4 ounces cream cheese. This is the amount I will try next time. I want to experiment with 2% milk in place of the cream, considering how very thick and creamy it came out. 

A TIP on the cooked peaches:  

After the initial 10 minutes of boiling the peaches, you have a lovely peach compote. This would be great served over vanilla ice cream or over a slice of pound cake with some whipped cream on the side. After the further 30 minutes of simmering, you now have a lovely batch peach preserves, using a whole lot less sugar than would usually be called for to make preserves. It was delicious both ways and I will be doing this again!

after adding more custard mixture, 2nd batch *

Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream

makes 5 cups ice cream mixture

2 pounds fresh peaches
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Peel the peaches and chop them coarsely. Place them into a 4 - 6 quart saucepan with the 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to a full boil (where you cannot stir it down) and set a timer for 10 minutes. Keep it on high, stirring vigorously. This helps evaporate a lot of moisture, quickly. Drop the heat to low or medium-low, to just maintain a simmer. Set the timer for 30 minutes and stir only occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. 

Peaches in pan  |  after cooking 5 minutes  |  after 10 minutes high boil  |  after 30 minutes simmer  |  = 2 cups in blender
Put the egg yolks into a bowl, whisk slightly and set aside. Place the cream and the 1/4 cup of sugar into a smaller saucepan and heat through, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once hot, pour the cream mixture slowly into the egg yolks, whisking vigorously while pouring so as not to scramble the eggs. Once the hot mixture is incorporated into the yolks, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set back on low or medium low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture reaches 170 to 175 on an instant read thermometer or a candy thermometer. At this point it should just barely coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add in the extracts. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Set the pan into the ice water and stir occasionally until it reaches room temperature.
completely blended ingredients   |    in bowl to refrigerate  |  just churned  |  served with Peach Galette  |  second batch

Place the cooled peach preserves into a blender container with the cream cheese. Blend until completely smooth. Add in the cooled milk mixture until completely combined. Pour this mixture into a bowl with a lid and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to make the ice cream, use whatever ice cream maker you have and churn according to manufacturer's directions.  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.