StrawberryWe’ve already put away our gazpacho recipe for the season, and we’ve frozen enough peach puree to get us through the winter.  But we’re intent on transitioning at least one warm-weather treat into fall (and maybe even winter) by changing up the ingredients: homemade ice cream.

Anyone can enjoy ice cream and frozen yogurt in summer…and this year, thanks to our new Ice Cream Maker attachment for our KitchenAid mixer, we did just that.  We sought out a few good recipes and kept coming back to one man.  David Lebovitz, an American blogger in Paris (as Joe Yonan dubbed him in the Washington Post feature that brought him to our attention), is a former Chez Panisse pastry chef who has put together some deliciously creative ice cream flavors.  A few of them are available on his blog, and even more can be found in his book “The Perfect Scoop.”

Blue cheeseAfter trying his recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt to christen the new gadget, we decided to try out one of his more esoteric ice cream flavors: roquefort and honey.  Considering the fact that the ice cream maker went onto our wish list after swooning over the Dijon ice cream that Chef Robert Weland incorporates into his gazpacho at Poste, it was only a matter of time.

Tasty notes on process, editing and results after the jump.

BaseLebovitz’s Roquefort and honey recipe jumped out at us right off the bat for two main reasons.  The first was the Roquefort itself.  A rich, salty blue, Roquefort is Elizabeth’s absolute favorite cheese.  And considering how well it pairs with honey and sweet items on a cheese plate, this seemed like a combination that was destined to impress when incorporated into ice cream.

The second incentive to make the recipe was its relative simplicity.  Six ingredients.  A handful of easy-to-follow steps leading up to the actual ice cream making.  It seemed like something that even novice ice cream makers could accomplish.  It was a perfect gateway into the world of creative custard-making.

Bev EggsRight from the start, however, we began to tweak the recipe.  Unlike Lebovitz, who lives in a place where Roquefort is not subject to frustrating tariffs that jack up the price, we have to buy our cheese here in the DC area.  As a result, we found ourselves balking at the idea of spending almost $10 for the four ounces of cheese that would disappear into the recipe.  We still wanted to enjoy that salty bite and we wanted a blue that we knew would break down as well as the Roquefort, so we turned to our friendly neighborhood experts at Cheesetique.  When we explained what we were doing with it, they encouraged us to try a hazelnut-smoked blue from Rogue Creamery in Oregon.  It was about half as expensive as the Roquefort, so we felt better about watching it melt away into the ice cream base.

Whip it GoodWe also decided we wanted some crunch to go with the salty-sweetness of the ice cream itself.  Taking a cue from Lebovitz’s own description of Roquefort and its recommended pairings, we decided to toast some pecans, chop them, and incorporate them into the ice cream at the very end of the process (our machine’s instruction manual recommends adding them for the last 8-12 minutes as the ice cream is in its final stages of setting up).

Before we could even begin, we had to remember to freeze the ice cream maker overnight (an oversight that delayed the start of this project when we forgot the first time around).  After that, it was a simple matter of following Lebovitz’s easy recipe.

YolksWe warmed six ounces of honey in a small saucepan and then set it aside as we moved on to make the ice cream base.  We crumbled our four ounces of blue cheese (preferably Roquefort) into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the crumbles.  While warming one cup of whole milk in a small saucepan, we whisked together four large egg yolks  – we used some of the vaunted “Bev’s Eggs” from Eco-Friendly Foods.

And this is where we had to slow down to make sure we got this next step just right.  One of the biggest pitfalls in making a custard or an ice cream comes when incorporating the egg yolks into the mixture.  Do it too quickly (or fail to bring the yolks up to temperature before mixing them in) and you end up with creamy scrambled eggs.  Instead, you have to go through a process called “tempering,” where you slowly add some of the hot liquid into the eggs directly, whisking all the while to dissipate the heat and prevent cooking.  If you do it right, you end up with a warmed mixture of egg yolk and liquid (usually milk).

Once the milk and the eggs are blended, they go back into the saucepan andcook until thickened.  You want the mixture to coat the back of a spoon, but you need to be careful to stir constantly…once again, to avoid scrambled eggs at the bottom of your saucepan.  Voila!  You’ve made a basic custard.  When the mixture reaches the desired thickness, it’s time to pour it into the strainer you set over your blue cheese and stir to melt the cheese into your custard mixture.  Follow up with one cup of heavy cream and the honey from earlier, add some freshly ground black pepper to taste, and stir things up a bit before putting the base into the refrigerator to cool thoroughly (we’ve found three to four hours to be sufficient, but you can even leave it overnight if you’d prefer).

Roquefort and Honey Ice CreamThen it’s just a matter of following your ice cream maker’s instructions to get rich, silky-smooth ice cream (studded with chopped pecans in our case).  Give it an hour or two in the freezer to change the texture from soft-serve to scoopable, and you’re ready to go.

Now that there’s a chill in the air and a smaller selection of fresh fruits and berries at the farmers’ market, this is exactly the kind of recipe we’re planning to stay in practice with the ice cream maker.  Sure, we’ve got visions of pumpkin spice custard and caramel apple ice cream, but we’re also eager to try our hands at some more savory flavors, as well.  Have any favorites you’ve made or tried that you’d recommend?  We’re not out to challenge Ben & Jerry or the Dairy Godmother anytime soon, but we’re definitely looking forward to trying some more frozen treats even as the temperatures drop and the leaves change.