We All Scream!

For ice cream!

Today in lab we made a bunch of different kinds of ice cream.  We won’t actually be able to eat them until our last lab, in the last week of April, but we made them and put them in the freezer today.  Vanilla, Custard, Chocolate, Lime Sherbert…

YUM.

My group had custard ice cream. 
For some reason, even though we followed all the directions, our custard mix wouldn’t thicken during the cooking process.  We left it cooking, occasionally stirring, for a good forty minutes, and it remained the same consistency the whole time.

Also for some reason, Professor M seems to come by to check on our group when we’re majorly screwing something up.  Does she come when I’m rocking a roux, or D is perfecting black bean salsa? No.  She comes by when our candy is boiling over, our butter is burning, or our custard isn’t custarding. As a type-A overachiever, this frustrates me to no end.

After a super-aggravating forty minutes of stirring, stirring, stirring, checking the flame under the double boiler, stirring, stirring, flame checking, and more stirring, she finally told us to just go ahead and go to the next step so that we wouldn’t hold the whole class up later.

I was kind of worried that our ice cream would be terrible, but once we’d finished the rest of the recipe and it had mixed in the ice cream maker for a little while, it started to look AMAZING.

I totally want an ice cream maker now.  I’ve had my eye on this one (which is the same brand we used in class, coincidentally), and this ice cream cook book, for a long time. Maybe this summer I’ll finally pull the trigger!

And now, we have this loveliness to look forward to in two weeks!

If you’re curious, ice cream is formed by a combination of fat, proteins, ice crystals, and air.  The finer the droplets of all these things are, and the smaller the air bubbles, the creamier the ice cream is.  The proteins coat the fat, emulsifying them (keeping them small, separate, and suspended in the rest of the ingredients), and they’re combined with ice crystals and air bubbles in the ice cream maker.  The container of the ice cream maker is frozen before the process starts, and is kept frozen by the machine.  So any time the milky part of the mixture touches the sides or bottom, they freeze into ice crystals.  Finally, the beater in the center of the machine is constantly whipping it, mixing in tiny air particles.  All these parts suspend together – and it has to be frozen afterwards to maintain that suspension/consistency. When it melts (not in your bowl as you’re eating, but when you accidentally forget to unpack the carton and leave it sitting in the trunk of your car for a few hours), the parts start separating, which gives it a funky appearance and texture.  It “melts” as the air escapes. That’s what I gleaned, anyway.

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