PW’s new biweekly column, “Forking Stupid,” sees 25-year-old Nicole Finkbiner persuading professional chefs from Philadelphia’s great restaurants to please teach her, for the love of god, how to cook—one dish at a time. This week, Little Baby’s Ice Cream cofounder and production manager Martin Brown gives Nicole something to scream about.
Little Baby’s Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream with Crazy Sizurp and Forked-Up Baby Bananas
Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract:
Split or chop 4 vanilla beans and place in a ¼ to ½ cup of bourbon in a mason jar for at least a week. Bourbon variety vanilla beans are great (so are Tahitian and Ugandan, and the other very few places that vanilla grows) Good bourbon is great as well, but not necessary for this endeavor. Save it for drinking.
Custard Ice Cream Base:
Make a custard ice cream base. Little Baby’s specializes in Philadelphia style (or non custard based ice cream that includes eggs) but for home ice cream makers nothing beats the smoothness, and richness of the natural emulsifying powers of egg yolks.
Custard Base Recipe:
4 eggs yolks (separated out by cracking the shell and letting the whites sliver out)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk (whole is best)
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt if desired
Custard Base Instructions:
1. Mix yolks and sugar until sugar is dissolved in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
2. Heat cream and milk on medium heat until you start to see steam and tiny bubbles along the rim of the pot and get that warm milk smell.
3. Temper the dairy into the eggs. That means pour a few tablespoons in at a time while stirring so that the hot dairy doesn’t cook and scramble the eggs. Once more than half of the dairy is poured out, pour the dairy/egg/sugar mix back into the pot.
4. Simmer on medium low heat while whisking for a good 10 minutes until you feel resistance and it starts to look like vanilla pudding.
5. Dip a spoon in and remove, drag your finger across the back of the spoon, if the finger mark holds without dripping your custard is thick enough and should be removed from the heat.
Note: When the dairy is heating up is the best time to add your flavoring. In our case, a tablespoon or two of the strained-off bourbon vanilla extract. Regular vanilla extract will suffice. Avoid imitation extracts all together. The heating process allows the dairy fats to absorb flavor. This is the time to add teas, coffee, spices, extracts, etc. They can be strained out before you temper with the eggs, or left in—it’s your world to rock.
Ice Cream Instructions:
(For a 2 quart home ice cream machine like the typical Cuisinart)
1. Let your custard base cool down completely. At least 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight preferred.
2. Let your freezer bowl freeze overnight and don’t pull it out of the freezer until you’re ready to pour in your base.
3. Turn your machine on, pour in the custard and let it go for 18-20 minutes.
4. Throw any swirls or variegates (chocolate syrup, cookies, nuts) in at the very last minute. Or better yet turn off the machine and scoop everything out into a large mixing bowl then fold in whatever you want. More dishes to wash but the freezing process with stop and let you do your thing.
5. Pour into a freezer safe container(s). Freeze overnight for best results
Pomegranate Molasses: You can find this in Middle Eastern markets and grocery stores like Bitar’s or ordered very easily online. It may be too bitter for some people. Add sugar or honey to sweeten it up.
Honey/Lime: Mix equal parts honey and lime juice. Add some lime zest for more depth. If you want to go crazier add a spoonful of peanut butter, sambal/sriracha, and soy sauce to crank this up into exotic south East Asian land. Bring the adventure to your mouth!
Spicy Molasses: Add a pinch of cayenne or chipotle powder to molasses or chocolate syrup or mix molasses and chocolate syrup together (we didn’t mess around with chocolate syrup because they are hard to make from scratch and most store bought stuff is 100 percent corn syrup). Get even crazier by adding cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom to the molasses or a splash of liquid smoke to the chocolate. This one works in three phases when you eat it with the ice cream: cold and sweet from the ice cream, warm/nutty/spicy/sweet, then hot/spicy/smoky/spicy. It’s so much fun when that happens!
We took baby bananas that I got at the Asian grocery store, but sliced bananas or plantains would surely work. The more surface area exposed the better. Peel and slice and roll around in brown sugar, coconut palm sugar, crushed up cereal or your favorite hard candy powdered up in a food processor. We used crushed Lemonheads. Throw them on a grill or broil in a toaster oven until the outside caramelizes. Bananas appear to be starchy but actually hold a lot of water so account for a lot of dripping in your cooking method. Throwing a candied-up banana on the grill at your next BBQ might just make you the most popular person on the block.