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   Ice cream

The guests were delighted, as was Charles, who summoned the cook and asked him not to divulge the recipe for his frozen cream. The King wanted the delicacy to be served only at the royal table and offered the cook 500 pounds a year to keep it that way. Sometime later, however, poor Charles fell into disfavour with his people and was beheaded in 1649. But by that time, the secret of the frozen cream remained a secret no more. The cook, named DeMirco, had not kept his promise. This story is just one of many of the fascinating tales which surround the evolution of the most popular dessert, the ice cream. It is likely that ice cream was not invented, but rather came to be over years of similar efforts. Indeed, the Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar is said to have sent slaves to the mountains to bring snow and ice to cool and freeze the fruit drinks he was so fond of. Centuries later, the Italian Marco Polo returned from his famous journey to the Far East with a recipe for making water ices resembling modern day sherbets.

Don't have an ice cream machine? Simply prepare the ingredients, put them in a metal bowl that's deep enough to hold the ingredients with a couple of inches to spare, as they will expand, and put them in the freezer, covered lest the cream absorb freezer aromas. After about an hour and a half remove the bowl; the ice cream will have begun to firm up, especially around the edges. Whip the mush well to
aerate it and break up any ice crystals that may have formed, or use an electric beater at the slow speed setting, then return the bowl to the freezer. Repeat the process once or twice more, keeping in mind that the air you beat into the ice cream contributes greatly to its softness and creaminess. So when in doubt, beat more rather than less.

For sherbets
the process is similar: put the ingredients in the bowl, cover it, and put it into the freezer; beat the mush every hour or so to break up the ice crystals. An important thing to keep in mind it that it will firm up considerably if you stop beating it, so keep beating it occasionally until you're ready to serve it. This if you're serving it in cups; you can also make the sherbet into Popsicles: Purchase the molds from a cooking supply company, and fill them with the sherbet, tamping it down well to remove air pockets. Press the sticks into the mush and return the molds to the freezer until the Popsicles have frozen solid.
A few tips:

  • The Milk. It should be quite fresh, and whole. If you prefer, you can use good quality Soya milk instead, though it does add a rather distinctive taste to the ice cream.
  • Cream. It makes for a richer ice cream, and if you want to enrich a recipe that doesn't call for it you can add it. Simply replace a given volume of milk with a given volume of fresh heavy cream. Don't simply stir it in, however. Beat it until it is fluffy but not stiff, and gently combine it with the remaining ingredients after they have cooled, before putting everything into the ice cream machine.
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