root beer ice cream
To continue the six days of frozen deliciousness, I bring to you…(blurry) root beer ice cream!
If you don’t have an ice cream maker…
I’m so sorry.
Please don’t hate me.
Does this post have at least have some relevance to the Fourth of July, you ask? Why, yes, yes it does.
Brace yourself for some American history, people.
Early colonial settlers were better off drinking wine, spirits, beer, or tea, rather than take their chances with water from wells and streams. They had to provide for themselves by baking their own bread, growing their own produce and grains, and brewing their own beer. Lacking in grains at first, the settlers took a lesson from Native Americans and used what was on hand. Water was boiled to kill any organisms, then berries, bark, roots, and herbs were added and steeped like tea. Then the mixture was fermented with yeast; the resulting alcohol acted as a preservative.
The pharmacist Charles Hires is widely credited as the man who popularized root beer by creating a liquid concentrate comprised of more than 25 herbs, roots and berries. He introduced it to the public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, to much ado.
My sister is credited with popularizing root beer ice cream, to me. She received an ice cream maker for her most recent birthday, then went wild and made a very impressive first batch, one that I just couldn’t shake from my mind. And of course she went all Early American Settler and used what was on hand, boiling down a two liter bottle of Virgil’s into one cup of concentrate. I lack that sort of patience, virtue, and sheer awesomeness, so I held off on trying the recipe until I found some root beer concentrate at the store. What I found was McCormick’s Root Beer Concentrate, but I’ve also heard good things about Gnome, Sprecher, and Zatarain’s, all conveniently found here. I gather that their flavor profiles very widely, some heavier on the licorice and sasparilla, some creamier with vanilla.
Whichever way you go, if you like root beer floats and possess an ice cream maker, make this. It’s just like a root beer float, without the annoying melting ice cream part. And if you made a root beer float with root beer ice cream? Well, just be careful. Your world might tilt off its axis.
Root Beer Ice Cream (based off David Lebovitz’s)
makes about 1 quart
1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon root beer concentrate (this amount may depend on the brand)
Heat milk, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat just up to the point that it’s about to simmer, then remove from heat.
Set up an ice bath by putting a 2 quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour in heavy cream. The strainer will catch any accidentally cooked egg bits.
In another bowl, whisk together the yolks. Gradually pour some of the hot milk into the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the tempered yolk/milk mixture back into the saucepan.
Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula (a ball whisk would come in handy here) until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula, or reaches 180 degrees.
Strain the custard into the awaiting heavy cream, stirring until cool. Add the vanilla and root beer concentrate, then transfer the mixture of the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Churn in your ice cream maker until frozen. Transfer to freezer to firm up for at least an hour.