Anyone who has ever eaten New York-style cheesecake knows there is nothing quite so exquisitely decadent as that particular texture and flavour. Ice cream is also particularly delightful for its texture and coolness and you can make it in virtually any flavour.
So why not cheesecake ice cream? There are places that sell the stuff, but it is very simple to make at home, with the advantage that you know there are no 'unpronounceables' in it. Below is a list of equipment, ingredients and steps so you can make it for yourself.
To make cheesecake ice cream, you'll need the following items of kitchen equipment:
- A blender/food processor
- A small saucepan
- A large double-boiler, or, if you can't get hold of one, a large metal bowl which sits on top of a larger saucepan without falling in
- A plastic spatula or two
- Measuring cups and spoons1
- Space in the freezer for aforementioned large metal bowl
1 pint (0.55 litres) Table cream, coffee cream, or light cream (do not use half-and-half, as they never specify half what and half what else).
12oz (0.4 kilograms) Full-fat cream cheese (not the kind with herbs in, or the non-fat kind which tastes sour)
6 Egg yolks (see How to Separate Eggs)
Approximately 1 cup sugar (8oz, or a reasonable size coffee mug-full, if you have a desperate need to measure; the rule is 'flavour to taste').
Roughly 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (you can use a teaspoon, as opposed to a measuring spoon, or just splash some in. Do not use artificial vanilla flavouring). For interesting variations, you can use lemon extract, or a smallish splash of Cognac.
Anything else you might want to add, such as shaved chocolate, raspberries, cherries, lumps of white chocolate (about 1-2 coffee cups according to taste).
Once you have all the equipment and ingredients to hand, you can begin!
Making the Cheesecake Ice Cream Base
Leave the cream cheese out of the fridge for a few hours to soften. Do not forget it has been left out, though, as it will go bad in a day or so.
Put the cream cheese in the blender, mixer, or mixing bowl, and stir it until it's smooth. (This step is not vital, but it makes it easier to blend later on).
In the small saucepan, scald the cream (heat to the point where tiny bubbles form around the edges, and a bit of a skin forms on the surface, but do not boil).
Add the scalded cream to the cream cheese, then blend the mixture until it's very smooth and foamy.
Add the vanilla extract and sugar to taste. If you're planning to add chocolate, you shouldn't sweeten the mixture as much. If you're planning to add sour berries, you'll want to sweeten more.
Note: To make chocolate cheesecake ice cream, use cocoa powder, as actual chocolate will completely ruin the texture of the custard. To compensate for the bitterness of the cocoa powder you need more sugar, and to compensate for the dry ingredients you need to add a bit more cream. Once you know the consistency at which the uncooked custard is 'just right', experimenting with cocoa powder quantities is a completely unjustifiable, totally hedonistic experience that will put you in cheesecake ice cream heaven!
Whip the egg yolks separately until foamy and light yellow in colour.
Add a small amount of the cream cheese mixture - which should still be warm - to the eggs and combine. Do this again a couple of times, so the eggs have been warmed up without getting cooked.
Slowly, while mixing, add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the cream cheese mixture.
Pour the mixture into the top of your double-boiler (or bowl) and fill the bottom half (or pan) with water. Make sure the water in the bottom half doesn't touch the bottom of the top half as this will cook the bottom solid before the top is warm.
Allow the water beneath to come to a boil on a high heat, while stirring the mixture in the bowl constantly. When the water finally boils, immediately reduce the temperature to medium-low.
Now for the tricky bit! Stir the cream cheese mixture, paying special attention to the bottom and sides of the double-boiler (or bowl) so that no lumps form. After 8-10 minutes of constant stirring and cooking, there will be a change in texture from 'liquid and frothy' to smoother, thicker, and much less foamy. It is important to be sure the eggs are cooked, because raw eggs can carry salmonella. However, do not overcook, as custards have a tendency to get lumpy and revolting if overcooked.
When lumps start showing signs of forming, which they do first at the bottom, immediately remove the top of the double-boiler (or bowl) from over the hot water and put into a pan of cold water to stop the cooking (or pour the mixture out into a chilled metal bowl).
Chill the mixture in the fridge for about 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. As it cools, the custard will set up, hold shape and become very mousse-like.
After chilling, the cheesecake mixture can be eaten straight away, and not frozen, and is very nice indeed. The mousse-style servings should properly be sauced with a fruit compote or chocolate sauce. Be warned, this is unspeakably rich - that crunching sound is just your arteries hardening!
If you want to add other ingredients (raspberries and white chocolate chunks is one very nice combination), this is the point at which to add them. Do not overdo the added ingredients, or they will overpower the cheesecake flavour. Liqueurs used in excessive quantity interfere with the freezing process. A light touch with liqueurs is preferable, in any case.
Place the bowl in the freezer. Every half-hour or so, stir with a spatula, to allow the freezing to take place gradually and evenly. When left overnight in the freezer, home-made ice cream becomes very hard, and must be put in the fridge to soften for about two hours (for the quantity described above) before it gets to the ideal temperature and texture to eat. When thawing, also stir every half hour or so. Commercial ice cream containers often have as much as two-thirds air in, and air is reasonably soft, even when frozen. Home made ice creams are much denser, so they must be thawed.
The above recipe serves an adult male approximately two enormous servings in the course of two days. It could also serve a family of four in reasonably generous servings for one meal, or more meager servings for two.