New Year's Eve Special: Carbonated Champagne Ice Cream
I'm not certain why I decided that I needed to make champagne ice cream for New Year's Eve.
It was a good idea. No. A great idea. Definitely great.
Crimfan suggested that it be expanded into a grape-centric menu. Unfortunately, that was not to be - I just got back into town late Wednesday, and I wouldn't have much time for menu-planning and such. I was actually a little worried that I wouldn't be able to find some dry ice in time. Fortunately, Harris Teeter carries it (and I now live within reasonable distance of Harris Teeter).
Yup. How else am I supposed to carbonate ice cream?
So this was my (remarkably quick and easy) project tonight.
Step One: Create Champagne Flavoring
I took a few cups of sparkling wine and reduced them down. I didn't want to overdo the flavor here. I just wanted enough for it to be recognizable. Once I got it down to about 1/3 cup, I stuck it in the freezer to cool down for a few minutes.
You lose the carbonation here, but that's OK. You'll get it back. Yes, I probably could have just used some wine. Given that the carbonation was going away, it didn't need to be sparkling.
Step Two: Make the Ice Cream Base
This was easy. I just took
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1 cup of half and half
- 3/4 cup of sugar
and mixed them until the sugar dissolved. You don't want to overdo the mixing here and accidentally end up with butter or something. Once the sugar is dissolved, I add in the no-longer-sparkling wine syrup and mix it a touch more.
Step Three: Crush the Dry Ice
This was the tricky bit. I tried to use a paper bag and hammer, but the paper bag didn't hold up. At all. I ended up moving to a mortar and pestle. This worked much better, but probably wasn't the safest method. You should be more careful than I am when using dry ice. You probably want about 2 cups of crushed dry ice. If you have extra, you can add some water and generate a bunch of fog that is great for freaking out your cats.
Step Four: Freeze the Ice Cream
Add the dry ice a bit at a time, while mixing. The dry ice will sublimate (go from solid to gas) a lot - you'll have that wonderful dry ice fog all over your kitchen and you won't be able to see what you are doing. That's OK. It will clear up after a moment... and you'll see that your ice cream base is bubbling
Keep adding the dry ice a bit at a time and mixing until the stuff freezes. The mixing will get noticeably harder (even with a stand mixer). Once it does, you're probably done. If you overmix it, you'll probably lose the carbonation... so don't do that (unless you want normal ice cream - this is a totally reasonable/simple method for making normal ice cream).
Step Five: Enjoy
The ice cream went over very well. It definitely lost some carbonation over 24 hours, but there was just enough of it left to make it clearly recognizable as champagne ice cream.