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Family Central: A Dry Ice Ice Cream Party

Caution! Dangerous blog! Intrepid kitchen fanatics only!

On Friday night, we had a dry ice ice cream party with two utterly delightful people, Shana Steele and her super-cool son, Henry.

The goal? A kid infused, flashy dinner party.

The plan? Make ice cream using nothing but dry ice and my stand mixer.

I’ll admit I’ve been curious about combining the Halloween effects of dry ice with some of the delicious ice cream bases I’ve used in the past. I had to discover the truth to these questions:

1. Does dry ice freeze the ice cream so fast that crystals don’t have time to form? YES! Resoundingly smooth and creamy. Better, in fact, than my traditional ice cream maker (Dear ice cream maker, you’ve given me good ice cream in the past, but it’s time for us to break up. It’s not you, it’s me. Me and my stand mixer are very happy together. Off to the garage sale with you.).

2. Does it only take three to five minutes to go from liquid to luscious creamy clouds from Heaven? No! Sometimes it takes even less time.

3. Is it easy? Yes, if you follow the proper steps and precautions.

The Rules for safely making Dry Ice Ice Cream:

Proportions: About 1/2 pound of dry ice for 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of ice cream base. But be flexible, sometimes you need more.

Equipment: Stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Warnings: Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. It spends almost zero time as a liquid and goes straight to gas. Because it is so cold, it’s dangerous to work with, and prolonged exposure could damage your skin. Wear protective equipment such as an oven mitt, and handle the ice itself with tongs (which is fun, because if they’re metal, they scream like a boiling lobster).

The “How”:

Put the dry ice in a gallon size plastic bag, leave partially open (because it immediately becomes a gas, the gas needs somewhere to escape). Using a rolling pin or something else of your choosing, break the ice down to a fine, sand-like consistency. Nothing should be larger than a pea.

Next, pour your chilled ice cream base in the stand mixer, use your paddle attachment, and mix on a medium-low setting while pouring in the dry ice until the mixture becomes the texture of ice cream.

Did we achieve the goal? Hibachi, my friend, step aside. The new dinner show in town is dry ice ice cream.

It tastes carbonated coming right out of the bowl, which is fun in its own right. But we put a good deal of it in the freezer, and after about a day and a half, the carbonation disappeared.

We tried four ice cream bases – two easy and two hard.

My husband recently brewed a beautiful chocolate porter, and he challenged me to turn it into a killer ice cream. It doesn’t actually have chocolate in it, it’s the type of malt used. I’m down with chocolate any time, so I accepted his challenge.

My favorite ice cream of all time is an ice cream I first had at Le Grand Véfour, a famous restaurant in Paris that was featured in the movie, “Midnight in Paris.” We ate there when it had a three-star Michelin rating, the highest on the Michelin scale. I experimented forever in the kitchen to replicate the recipe, so for my second pick, I was happy to challenge myself with this culinary treat.

Henry, our inventor, was charged with bringing the heat on his favorite ice cream flavor – vanilla. Three flavors down, one to go.

And of course, we love coffee flavored anything. Ta-done!

To-Die-For Ice Cream Bases (ranked by difficulty level)

Henry’s Vanilla Ice Cream (Easy)

1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt

Combine ingredients until sugar dissolves. Make the ice cream following the dry ice ice cream instructions.

Espresso Toffee Ice Cream (Easy)

1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup good quality espresso coffee
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup chocolate pecan toffee

Chill the espresso and make sure it is all refrigerator cold before starting. Combine the first 6 ingredients until sugar dissolves. Make the ice cream following the dry ice ice cream instructions. After the ice cream is made, stir in the toffee.

Porter Toffee Gelato (Medium)

4 egg yolks
1 cup porter (My husband brews, and he recently made a chocolate porter. We used that. But you could select a store-bought porter, there is nice selection now.)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
2/3 cup chocolate pecan toffee

Combine egg yolks, porter, vanilla, sugar and salt in large bowl and set aside. In the microwave, heat the milk and cream in a microwave safe, easy pouring container until steaming but do not boil.

While whisking the egg yolk constantly, add the milk mixture in a slow, steady stream to temper the eggs. Adding milk too quickly will cause eggs to become scrambled instead of stay smooth.

Pour into a pan and heat entire mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and hits 180º F using a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat, transfer to storage container and continue to stir a few minutes to ensure no lumps form. Chill in the refrigerator about 6 hours before making the ice cream. Make the ice cream following the dry ice ice cream instructions. After the ice cream is made, stir in the toffee.

Caramel Crème Brulee Gelato (Difficult & Dangerous)

4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cups cream
1 cup whole milk
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup

Combine egg yolks, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and whole milk in a microwave safe, easy-pouring container until steaming but do not boil.

Put sugar in a 2 to 4 quart pot with high sides, add corn syrup and just enough water to cover sugar. Stir to make sure combined. Heat on high, do not stir while heating. The sugar mixture caramelizes, and you’re looking for a dark amber color (this is about 358º F on a candy thermometer and takes about 20 minutes). CAUTION: Very hot and will cause burns.

Remove the caramelized sugar from heat, and slowly and carefully pour in the hot milk/cream mixture, which will spatter and bubble up. Again, pour slowly and carefully to avoid burns. Whisk until fully incorporated.

While constantly whisking the egg yolk, pour the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, taking care not to curdle the egg.

Return entire mixture to the pot and heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and hits 180º F on candy thermometer – it takes about 5 to 10 minutes. I take my custard base up to 200º F to get it super thick, but this is trickier to do. Remove from heat and cool a bit, stirring to make sure there are no lumps. If there are lumps, remove them.

I can’t remember where I heard this…Julia Child maybe…but if your custard becomes lumpy, like scrambled eggs, you can save it by throwing it in the blender and no one will be the wiser.

Chill your crème brulee mixture in the refrigerator about 6 hours before making the ice cream, and make the ice cream following the dry ice ice cream instructions.

Comment back and share your ice cream stories!

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