Each year for our birthdays, Abby and I will make the other a treat of their choosing. It's a little unfair because Abby's treat choices are usually elaborate, whereas mine are often my grandma's cream pie (the easiest pie in the world). And after seeing a baked Alaska on The Great British Baking Show, I requested it, but Abby refuses to make it, so how much freedom do I have really?
This year for her birthday Abby gave very few parameters on what she wanted. The keyword was "hazelnuts." So I set off on my first off-recipe effort to make ice cream. It turned out great, and partially so I don't forget what I did and partially to share it with you, here's my recipe for hazelnuts three ways (hazelnut ice cream with toasted hazelnuts and a Nutella fudge ribbon).
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. hazelnut coffee creamer (I used the regular, not fat-free kind; you could probably use fat-free)
1/3 c. sugar
~1/3 c. hazelnuts, shelled and cleaned (I didn't measure...)
1 small jar Nutella
(Note: as I rediscover every time I have to buy hazelnuts, they are sometimes referred to as filberts. Also, all of these ingredients save the filberts are available at Aldi, if you want to save money. I used all Aldi ingredients--again, excepting the filberts.)
1. Beat the heck out of three eggs until they are pale (several minutes if you use a mixer). Once they are pale, you can reduce the speed a little and slowly add the sugar to the mixture.
2. Over low to medium heat, heat 1 c. heavy cream and the hazelnut creamer in a saucepan, stirring constantly, until it starts to bubble a little. (You want warm-hot, not boiling.) Pour 1 c. cream into a medium bowl, preferably in an ice bath, and have your fine mesh strainer handy.
3. Turn your mixer (where the eggs are) on low, and slowly ladle the warm cream-creamer mixture into the eggs. You need to do this slowly. (Basically, you want to warm the eggs while they're in motion so they can get used to the heat without scrambling. You do this by going s-l-o-w.)
4. Once the cream mixture has been fully added to the eggs, you can stop the mixer and pour the full mixture back into the saucepan. Heat on medium heat, constantly whisking. (Again, you don't want the eggs to scramble. You want to heat the eggs hot enough to kill any bacteria that might be in the eggs.) I dip the ladle back in the mixture. When the mixture coats the back of the ladle, it's done.
5. Pour the cream-creamer-egg mixture through the fine mesh strainer and into the cold cream. (This ensures that any eggy bits that got cooked are removed.) Whisk the mixture together and allow to cool on the counter; once cool enough, place, covered, in your refrigerator. (You need to wait at least two hours; I usually try to let it cool overnight if I haven't procrastinated.)
6. Heat a small skillet, and add the hazelnuts. Constantly stir the hazelnuts so they don't burn. You'll start to notice oil escaping the hazelnuts. When the hazelnuts are starting to turn a little bit brown and you can smell them, you can turn off the heat and allow the hazelnuts to cool on your cutting board. Chop the hazelnuts. (I recommend by hand--it's very easy to over chop them in a food processor.)
7. Scoop the jar of Nutella (as much as you can get out or don't want to eat with a spoon plain...mmmm...) into a small bowl. Add some milk and a little corn syrup and stir it. You want the consistency to be like fudge sauce, not like peanut butter (that is, you don't want it completely runny like Hershey's syrup, but you also want it to be liquid enough that you can work with it). Add milk and corn syrup as necessary, and then chill the mixture.
8. Once the cream mixture has chilled long enough, pour into your ice cream maker and churn it following your maker's instructions. About two minutes before the churning is finished, add the chopped hazelnuts.
9. Get your ice cream receptacle ready, and collect the ice cream and Nutella fudge. (The Nutella fudge might have lost some of its liquidity in the refrigerator; if so, just add a little more milk and stir it until it's the right consistency again.) You are going to marble the ice cream and fudge together. What this means is you are going to lay a thin layer of ice cream into the receptacle and then an even thinner layer of the Nutella fudge. This isn't an exact science, and it doesn't have to be perfect (that is, sometimes your "layer" of fudge might look like globs--I promise, the eventual eaters won't mind). You do want to budget your fudge, though, so there's some at the top of the receptacle as well as at the bottom. (If you do it right, there should be plenty.) Again, this doesn't have to be exact.
10. Place the ice cream receptacle in the freezer and allow to freeze overnight, ideally.
11. Lick all spoons and utensils and bask in the glory of a job well done.
That's it. Abby and I agree that this is probably the best ice cream I've made, and maybe the best ice cream we've ever had.