If you are what you eat, then this summer I was a peach. I ate a fresh peach (mixed with walnuts into yogurt) a day, more on the nights I ate some of my peach ice cream for dessert.
My goal for peach ice cream was strong peach flavor without the icy texture that comes with adding fruit.
I love Cook’s Illustrated magazine and their meticulous methods for testing recipes. I started with their method for preparing the peaches, which involves extracting as much peach-flavor as possible by letting sliced peaches stand in a lemon juice and sugar mixture for an hour or so and then briefly cooking the peaches to soften. You add the peach syrup to the ice cream mix before churning and you add a little vodka to the remaining peach chunks to add to the ice cream for the last minute of churning (the alcohol helps keep the peaches from freezing into unpleasant ice nuggets).
For several reasons, I diverged from their methods while developing the rest of my recipe. My first attempt wasn’t peach-flavored enough, so I use more peaches (you need at least three large peaches…the goal is to add about 10 ounces of peach syrup to the mix, although adding as little as 6-7 ounces still made a pretty good peach ice cream). Also, while the peach syrup is key to a full-flavored ice cream, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe appears to be less than 10 percent butterfat by weight. Since I didn’t want peach ice milk, I cranked up the proportion of heavy cream to milk to counteract the addition of the extra liquid (peach syrup) to the mix.
Lastly, I don’t like using a lot of eggs in my ice cream. I can’t justify using six egg yolks for a quart of ice cream. There are less wasteful (how many meringues and egg white omelets can one person eat?) ways of improving homemade ice cream texture. Plus, the addition of six egg yolks starts to mess with ice cream’s flavor. I used my standard custard-making techniques — cornstarch slurry and one egg yolk — to ensure a velvety-smooth peach ice cream whose flavor wasn’t weighed down by eggs.
The final product was a perfect summer treat…refreshing peach ice cream studded with chewy peach pieces for additional flavor. I included this ice cream on the menu for my second annual ice cream social.
DOUBLE PEACH MELBA SUNDAE
by Tracy Rimdzius
To turn this into a “Double Peach Melba” sundae like I did at my ice cream social, serve peach ice cream with sliced peaches, raspberry sauce, and a vanilla meringue (I was able to make a whole batch of meringues with the all the egg whites available after making 16 quarts of ice cream for the party).