Hey, who got Champagne in my ice cream? Well, who got ice cream in my Champagne? Ah, you probably know the next couple of lines. As an aside, one day we’ll be making peanut butter cups, good peanut butter cups, not like the commercial kind that are sickly sweet. But, for now, let’s get back to our adult ice cream treat, shall we?
We saw the idea for Champagne Ice Cream in Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe, by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos & Jorge Pineda, but we took almost nothing from it. In fact, our note says exactly this: “Make ice cream using 1 cup Champagne in place of 1 cup Half & Half.” If that’s enough of a recipe for you, have fun and enjoy. Otherwise, feel free to read on.
If you’re going to the trouble of making ice cream, use great ingredients. We always try (but don’t always succeed) to use organic heavy cream and Half-and-Half. Similarly, we try to always use eggs from free-ranging hens. To us, it just makes sense that eggs from a healthy hen that eats her natural diet and lives in a pasture full of sunshine will be better, and better for you, than a hen that’s fed a preset mix of grains and kept in a cage in a barn. Oh, for those whites, we put them in small containers and freeze for later, knowing that we can make Almond Macaroons, or Swiss Meringue Buttercream for cakes. For Champagne, use one you like to drink.
Procedure in detail:
Heat cream. We always wonder why you need this step in making a custard. Why, exactly, do you heat the cream before you add it to the yolks? And then you cook it again? Why not just whisk all the ingredients together and cook until thickened? We don’t know, but, we have read (on the Internet, so you know it must be true — or not), that the first heating changes the proteins in the cream and Half-and-Half, making it easier to combine the yolks and milk products. Regardless of the veracity, mix together the heavy cream, Half-and-Half, about half the sugar, and the salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook until steaming; we use a thermometer and heat to 165-170°F, stirring with a rubber spatula to prevent scorching. When hot, remove from heat.
Whisk eggs and sugar. Add the remaining sugar to the yolks and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.
Temper eggs. This is the only tricky part of making ice cream (well, besides being careful enough not to overcook the custard). We need to get the hot cream into the yolk mixture without cooking the yolks. Here’s the way: start whisking the yolks and sugar rapidly. Now, slowly drizzle in about a tablespoon of hot cream and whisk in. Repeat, but this time add a little more hot cream. Keep repeating and increasing the amount of hot cream. After you get about 1/4 of the hot liquid into the yolks, you can slowly pour in the remaining cream, but don’t stop whisking.
Cook custard. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and place it back over medium heat. Stirring all the time and scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula, heat the custard until it thickens slightly, and the mixture is steaming. If you use a thermometer, you want to heat it to 165-170°F. If you heat it more than this, the egg yolks will curdle in the cream, and you’ll have tiny scrambled egg pieces in your ice cream (yuck).
Strain. No matter how carefully you cooked the custard, there will be a few pieces of egg yolk that solidified, so take the time to pour your custard mix through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. It’s not much extra work for a better ice cream, so just do it.
Add Champagne. Stir in the cup of Champagne, and feel free to have a glass from as a precursor to tomorrow’s dessert.
Chill. Cover the custard mix and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight. This chilling allows the flavors to meld and makes the ice cream churn faster tomorrow.
Churn. Set up your ice cream maker and churn the custard mix according to the manufacturer’s directions. We use the ice cream attachment for our KitchenAid mixer, and we love it.
Pack. Scrape the ice cream out of the freezer bowl and pack into an airtight container. Store in the freezer.
This ice cream is super smooth and creamy, but we will tell you that it’s very soft. Very soft. If you’ve ever had trouble scooping out rock- hard ice cream, you won’t have to worry. Another thing, this ice cream tastes like Champagne, a lot like Champagne, so choose your bubbly wisely. To be honest, we tried a new Champagne and it turned out that it has a slight bitter aftertaste — not a lot, but noticeable — and that’s reflected in the flavor of the ice cream. Because of that, we’re giving our version 4 stars, but, we know that when we use a better Champagne, it’ll be a solid five.