Happy day after Thanksgiving, folks!  While you’re groaning on the couch in a tryptophan coma*, how’s about a little palate cleanser? I loved this ice cream book published by the Bi-Rite Creamery this past summer.  (My Boston Globe review has more information about this book, in case you’re interested.)
[*OK, turkey has no more tryptophan than other poultry, and the coma is probably caused by the carbs rather than the turkey. But it’s still fun to say “tryptophan coma”.]

The book:  Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough (10 Speed Press, $24.95)

The recipe:  Buttermilk Ice Cream

Why I tried it: Buttermilk is one of those magic ingredients – like Worcestershire sauce or dua belibis – that makes everything better.  It makes biscuits better.  It makes marinades better. It makes cold soups better.  It makes fried chicken better.  Why shouldn’t it make ice cream better, too?

Why I loved it:  Two reasons – taste and texture.  First of all, that tart, fresh, farm-scrubbed dairy taste came through. It was like eating crème fraîche straight out of the tub with a spoon, except sweet and more assertive, and  (it’s just ice cream after all) not perverse.  As for the texture, it’s not just the normal  smooth, rich effect you get from using Bi-Rite’s generous formula of 5 yolks per scant quart. This is ultra-premium, private-jet-class velvet–caused by the protein-disassembling acids of buttermilk.  Even when it’s totally “frozen,” a scoop still passes easily through.  It lingers in a soft cool mass on your tongue for a moment, and then it’s gone.

And if it happens to be August? and you happen to have some fresh blueberries around? then you’re in for a food memory that will last a lifetime.

Estimated preparation time: 40 minutes + 4 hours in the freezer.
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Buttermilk Ice Cream
I learned a great way to cool down ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and I now use it every time I make ice cream: Fill a deep vessel (> 2 qts.) with ice water.  Carefully tip your warm ice cream custard base into a sturdy freezer-grade Ziploc bag, and place the bag in the ice water (with the opening kept well clear above the water level).  Stir occasionally and gently, over the course of 10 minutes until the base is cool.  Much, much faster than the bowl-within-a-bowl technique.

5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup 1% or 2% milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Make the base: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks to just break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Set aside.

2. In a heavy stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, and the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.

3. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pan.

4. Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

5. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the bowl into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. (In this recipe, it’s particularly important that the base is cold before proceeding to the next step; otherwise the buttermilk will cause the mixture to “break” and lose its emulsion.)

6. Freeze the ice cream: Add the buttermilk and vanilla to the cold base and whisk to blend.

7. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours.

Reprinted with permission from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones © 2012 by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough, 10 Speed Press.

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