Winter Weary | Cardamom Ice Cream
Something about this winter has really gotten me down. Perhaps it was the way major snowstorms repeatedly veered just to the north of Baltimore, leaving us with enough weather to make leaving the house difficult but falling far short of last year’s week-long snow day. The end of CSA season also hit me hard, and now that I make an effort to take photos of dinner, so did the early sunsets. Add to that such mysteries as why my basement sometimes smells like chimney smoke even though I don’t use my fireplace, why Snuggie manufacturers chose the most staticky fabric for a product intended for use during the most staticky season, and why my right big toe goes numb when I’m cold. Most vexing of all, however, is not that I was gifted an ice-cream maker for my December birthday, but that just looking at the thing has made my teeth chatter.
Over the past few days, grey skies have given way to sunshine. Yesterday reached almost 70 degrees, and I went outside without a scarf for the first time in far too long. While I know that the cries of “Spring is here!” are likely premature, I’m already having visions of eating meals on outdoor patios, trading stouts for margaritas, getting the feeling back in my right big toe, and, most importantly, making ice cream.
Lest I find myself in the middle of June without a few recipes under my belt, I took a deep breath, put on an extra sweater, and broke out the ice-cream maker. This recipe makes a boldly flavored ice cream, with notes of wood smoke that come not from a neighbor’s errant chimney but from the black cardamom pods, which I picked up on impulse at Wegman’s a few weeks ago. Maybe if we all start making ice cream now, summer will come to us sooner.
Cardamom Ice Cream
2 cups milk
half a vanilla bean
3 black cardamom pods, crushed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
Pour the milk into a medium heavy pot. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape out the caviar. Add both the caviar and the empty bean to the milk. Crush the black cardamom pods with the side of a chef’s knife (as you would to peel garlic), and add the pieces to the milk, along with the extract, ground cardamom, and half the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium–medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and creamy.
When the milk has come to a boil, remove it from the heat to cool for just a few minutes (it should still be hot). Using a fine sieve, strain out the pods and bean, and discard. Very slowly pour a thin stream of the strained milk into the yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs without scrambling them. Be very patient with this step, as you want to raise the temperature of the eggs gradually.
When all the milk has been added, return the mixture to the pot over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat, and let cool at room temperature before refrigerating for about three hours or more. When the mixture is cold, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.