I am not blessed with a great memory like my sister, Linda. She can memorize volumes of text and can recite long passages of poetry. In high school, she took Spanish, German and French in the same semester and earned an A in each class. She can reel off the medicinal properties of plants and the impact on a human body. So in-depth is Linda's knowledge that she sounds as if she is a medical doctor. In fact, we often refer to her as Dr. Townsend when seeking her advice on how to cure whatever might be ailing us.
My husband is similar in the way that he can remember conversations with great accuracy. Especially the conversations he has with me, much to my chagrin. His keen memory doesn't seem to work in my favor in personal disagreements. As a couple, we are a prime example that opposites attract.
My best friend from high school, Dan is also known as Dan-The-Man. He also answers to his current rank of Lieutenant. That's right... Lieutenant Dan. Upon his promotion, I immediately trotted down the well-worn path of Forrest Gump jokes that littered the gutters of his reality. Dan told me straight-up, with only the slightest hint of his trademark humor, that my jokes were not in any way original. The news did not come as a surprise to me or lessen my enthusiasm for the obviously stupid. I digress.
My original point for bringing Dan into the conversation is that Dan remembers things from high school that I do not. He has been downright incredulous with me at times with things I fail to remember. I do remember that he taught me how to drive. And, for that, I will always be grateful.
I think my lack of a strong memory is why I take so many photographs. I seem to be obsessively documenting my life. Similar to the movie "Momento", I take photos to remember. (I am happy to confirm that there are no additional similarities between my life and the aforementioned movie.)
This is why, when I do have a random memory, something that should have been in one memory bank and out the other, but has nevertheless stuck with me through the years, I take note. This particular memory has to do with, yep, you guessed it: Root Beer Marble Ice Cream.
|Dan took this photo of "young happy me" on the beach in Santa Barbara.|
The small village of Solvang is a mix of paved roads and cobblestone walkways, half-timbered buildings with thatched roofs and picture perfect windmills. Solvang Park resides between downtown Solvang's two traffic lights on Mission Drive. Across the street from the park lived a small, narrow ice cream shop on 1st Street. As I recall all the flavors were made by Dreyers. When I shared with Linda, she seemed to recall that the little shop served up Burnardo'z ice cream, a small company that was based in Los Alamos, California, just up a short stretch from Solvang on Highway 101. Linda's favorite was Burnardo'z Rocky Road. If we are to trust a source, we'll go with Linda's recollection based upon my glowing assessment of her mental prowess.
|Celebrating Danish Days 1977 in Solvang Park posing in front of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen's statue. I'm wearing apparel befitting for my elementary school's participation in the annual parade.|
cone until every last tasty bit was consumed.
In an attempt to reconstruct this happy experience from my youth, I have searched extensively for a Root Beer Marble Ice Cream recipe without success. No recipes on the internet or in my cookbooks... at least not that I could find.
The field has been narrowed to the capable team of me, myself and I to create Root Beer Marble Ice Cream. I will rise to the challenge. I should perhaps put my skills to something worthy that could really change the world, but hey, Root Beer Marble Ice Cream to celebrate the 4th of July sounds like a good use of time to me. Lofty goal? I think not. It's all about making a syrup, which thanks to Cooks Illustrated, might be as easy as boiling a liter of root beer to a cup of syrup*. Next, make a really great vanilla ice cream (easy-peasy). Finally, swirl the syrup into the soft homemade ice cream and then harden in the freezer.
Instant time machine? I think not, but this time around I get to share a memory in the making with my daughter and husband. At least I hope so. I'll take a picture, just in case I get a little fuzzy on the details.
My first attempt to add the syrup to the frozen custard would aptly be named Root Beer Float Ice Cream. Not what I was striving for, but delicious all the same. In the final analysis, the "float" occured when the room temperature syrup diffused into the unripened ice cream (see note below). Not content to stop short of my mission of a true marbled ice cream, I resolved to try again.
For round two, I decided to make my own syrup based upon reading a terrific Sassafras and Homemade Root Beer blog post by Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. There are no Sassafras trees in my neck of the woods, err... barren desert that is, but I can purchase just about anything I desire at Amazon.com. A quick search yielded Sassafras Root Bark, Cut and Sifted Burdock Root, and Wintergreen extract. The rest of the ingredients were lounging in my spice cabinet or readily available at my local grocery store. I decided that I would follow Hank's recipe and add-in one crushed whole nutmeg to the "tea" ingredients and then a touch of vanilla paste to make the syrup my own.
Root Beer Marble Ice Cream
"Ice cream is a two-part making process: conversion and ripening. Mixing batter into ice cream is the conversion process in which the ice cream consistency will be similar to soft serve. The ripening process takes place in the freezer, where the ice cream will harden over a period of 2-4 hours." ~Tips for Making Perfect Ice Cream, KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Instruction Booklet
Vanilla ice cream batter/base:
2 extra-large whole eggs
2 extra-large egg yolks
2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 cups (1 pint) Half and Half
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vodka (see note below)
Root beer syrup:
1 cup root beer syrup, made by Sonoma Trading Company (available at Williams-Sonoma stores) or homemade
1 Tbsp Blackmaker™ Brand Root Beer Liqueur (optional, but highly recommended)
1. Prepare root beer syrup, if preparing at home. Store the syrup in a glass container in the refrigerator. Accoring to Hank, the syrup will last in the refrigerator for one year. Combine 1 cup syrup with 1 tablespoon Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur. The liqueur will reduce icyness when the syrup is frozen.
2. For the vanilla ice cream base: In a stainless steel saucepan, over medium heat, heat the whipping cream until almost scalded. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whip eggs until blended and frothy. Add sugar to whipping cream and stir until dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
3. Slowly add about one cup of the hot sugar-cream mixture to the eggs while whisking quickly to incorporate. Then add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Whisking constantly, cook again over medium heat for about 5 minutes until hot and slightly thickened. Turn off heat. Stir in the half and half to cool the mixture.
4. Through a sieve, pour mixture into a covered container, such as a cambro. Add milk and vodka. Stir well. Whisk in vanilla bean paste. Refrigerate until very cold, or overnight.
5. Freeze the vanilla ice cream base following your ice cream manufacturer's instructions. In the bottom of a container (with a tight fitting lid), pour in enough root beer syrup to lightly cover the bottom, about 1/3 cup. Transfer ice cream to the same container, but do not stir. Let the ice cream harden in your refrigerator for about two hours.
6. Remove ice cream from freezer. Swirl in the root beer syrup and liqueur mixture with a table knife. Do not over stir to maintain the marbled effect. Pour the last of the syrup on the surface of the ice cream; do not stir. Return the ice cream to the freezer to ripen further, about 4 hours (or longer). The ice cream will keep well for about a week in the freezer. The ice cream scoops well directly from the freezer; no need to soften at room temperature before serving. Yield: 2 quarts
Note: We learned many years ago that adding alcohol to the batters of homemade ice creams and sorbets lowers the freezing point of the mixture. In other words, by adding alcohol, frozen desserts keep well in the freezer without becoming too icey or difficult to scoop. With alcohol in a recipe, be warned, more is not
better. If you add too much the end result will likely taste boozy and in the case with frozen desserts, will not harden properly, so please be careful with your measurments.