The first homemade ice cream of the season, like the first overhand smash on the tennis court, is often less than an artistic triumph.
My first ice cream attempt of the summer was soupy but edible. I was trying to replicate the chocolate chip ice cream of my youth.
I feasted on chocolate chip ice cream as a kid, and haven't been able to find a good one since. The place that made my favorite, Norton's Ice Cream in St. Joseph, Mo., is long gone.
But the memory of its ice cream still lingers on my taste buds.
It was a chocolate chip that had a creamy, but not too sweet, vanilla base. Unlike the uniform-size chips found in chocolate chip ice creams of today, this one had irregular flecks and chunks. These flecks and chunks were scattered over the ice cream like stars in the night. And they had strong flavor.
This chocolate chip ice cream provided a satisfying middle ground to the troubling ice-cream-counter quandary: Should I get chocolate or vanilla?
And so on one recent weekend, I decided to break out the electric ice cream maker and crank out some chocolate chip.
The recipe I used came from two guys who make a lot of ice cream, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield, better known as Ben & Jerry. Leafing through their book, "Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book" (Workman Publishing, $8), I spotted a page that suggested putting raw chocolate chip cookie dough in a sweet cream base ice cream.
As a longtime devotee of raw chocolate chip cookie dough -- whenever my mom made cookies she used to have to hide the dough from me -- I was anxious to see if the key to a good chocolate chip ice cream was in the cookie dough.
It had been months since I last made ice cream, and the first thing I did was make sure I had all the necessary ingredients.
I was short a bag of chocolate chips. One bag of chips had recently been spotted sitting on the pantry shelf. But now no evidence of it remained, not even a wrapper. And no one in the family -- me, my wife or the two kids -- wanted to be questioned too closely about how the bag could have disappeared.
So I went to the grocery store and bought two bags of chocolate chips and an extra big bag of ice cubes.
I was especially proud of my ice purchase. You need mounds of ice to make ice cream. You don't put the cubes in the ice cream mixture. You throw them around the outside of the container holding the ice cream mixture. Somehow, just because ice is in the neighborhood, the ice cream mixture tries to imitate the cubes and gets hard.
However, before this imitative behavior begins, you have to have an overwhelming number of ice cubes. More than once, in the middle of the ice-cream-making process, I have flung open the refrigerator freezer door and found only a handful of ice cubes. This is an ice cream maker's disaster. While he hunts for for more ice, the critical moment -- when cream imitates cubes -- is lost.
So when I went to the store I bought an extra big bag of ice. Too big, it turned out to fit in the freezer of the refrigerator. I put it in an ice chest, and it began to melt.
I bought the ice on Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday when the call went out for cubes, only one-third of the ice remained.
The call also went out for rock salt, which I had forgotten to buy on Saturday at the hardware store. On late Sunday afternoon the hardware store was closed.
I am told the rock salt is needed to lower the freezing point of the ice. I have never understood this. I don't follow how putting something warm, like salt, on something cold like ice cubes makes something in between, like ice cream mixture, turn hard. But I treat this occurrence along with the stock market practice of selling short -- the price goes down yet people still make money -- as proof that the leprechauns are still among us working their mischief.
Substituting ordinary table salt, I poured it on the melting store-bought ice.
According to the recipe, the cookie dough was supposed to be added to the ice cream mix a minute before the ice cream mix gets hard. It requires good timing.
And this early in the season, my timing was off.
The cookie dough never made it to the ice cream. Some of it turned into cookies, which we had for dessert the night before we made the ice cream.
And the rest of the dough remains unaccounted for.
As for the ice cream, it was soupy. My family had it for dessert, topped with homemade chocolate sauce.
That is the good thing about early season attempts at ice cream. Even when it doesn't work out according to the recipe, getting rid of the "mistake" is mighty pleasant work.
From: "Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book."
Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream Makes 1 quart.
FOR THE DOUGH
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
FOR THE SWEET CREAM BASE:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar