Homemade Rum Raisin Ice Cream
I’m not sure what it was but a few nights ago, I had an overwhelming urge to begin planning our meals for the next two months, a big part of which I wanted to feature older recipes that don’t get their due. This autumn and winter, we’re going to cook like it’s 1700 – 1950; Shepard’s pie, German Christmas cakes, Yorkshire pudding, perhaps an Apple Dowdy from Colonial America. I want to go back and make things that get most of their flavor profile extracted from a handful of key ingredients; fruits, nuts, meats, liqueurs, or spices.
We’re kicking it off with homemade raisin rum ice cream. The first recipe we are trying comes from Serious Eats and has cinnamon and dark brown sugar (more molasses content), which we thought sounded nice, especially now that the air has turned cold and the leaves started to change. The only modifications we made out of the gate is our decision to opt for the stronger, more expensive Mexican vanilla over classic Tahitian vanilla given how crazy we are about the stuff, and the choice of Vietnamese (or Saigon) cinnamon over any of the other varieties since it is the only one we use thanks to KansasKate introducing it to us years ago in the blog comments. (How did we live without this? It’s so much better!)
The process began last night when we took 1/2 a cup of original dark Myers’s Rum and soaked 1 cup of raisins in it. You can use golden raisins, which we considered doing because we like them as snacks, but we wanted a bit more tartness and visual contrast to the rich, creamy ice cream base. We put them in an air-tight container and let them sit for about 18 hours, occasionally shaking them to turn over the raisins and increase rum uptake. You can leave them for up to 48 hours, which will cause more of the rum flavor to absorb if you want to go for maximum effect.
When we came back to inspect our rum raisins the next day, they had definitely become plump, bursting with flavor. We strained them and reserved the raisin-flavored rum in a bowl, as instructed by the recipe, because we’ll need it later toward the end of the ice cream making process.
Meanwhile, we got our other ingredients ready. In a medium copper pot, we had 2 cups of whole milk, 2 cups of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of Vietnamese cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. We whisked it together to make sure it was all consistent. We also separated out our four egg yolks (saving the egg whites for scrambled eggs and sausage in the future – no reason to waste money).
Next, it was time to start. Over medium heat, we constantly stirred the ingredients in the copper pot until the concoction began to steam.
Once that happened, remember that bowl of egg yolks? We had pre-whisked the bowl so the egg yolks were all mixed together. Then, we slowly incorporated the rum raisin ice cream base from the copper pot into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so it all blended together nicely, turning off the heat for a few seconds to focus on this step. When we were done, we had a very hot mixing bowl.
We poured the mixing bowl (use oven mitts unless you want to get seriously burned) back into the copper pot, reignited the medium heat, and began stirring constantly to make sure the milk and cream, which now included the eggs, didn’t burn.
We kept at this until the rum raisin ice cream base thickened to the point it coated a spoon. You have to make sure you constantly stir the bottom so it doesn’t curdle.
When that was done, we turned off the heat. Next, we needed to sift out the milk fats, as well as any cooked eggs that resulted from the earlier steps. Using a fine mesh strainer, we filtered the ice cream so only the creamy perfection made its way down into a mixing bowl.
When that was done, we put it in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours to let it throughly chill.
Once it was chilled, we took it out of the refrigerator and added the two tablespoons of rum we had reserved from when we drained the raisins earlier, along with the Mexican vanilla. We then took a spoon and mixed it all together so it was completely incorporated.
Time to transfer it into the ice cream bowl for the ice cream machine (the bowl needs to be frozen for 24 hours prior to this step, otherwise you’re going to have a bad time!).
Awesome. Now, we need to get the ice cream maker setup while I go play Tales of Zestiria.
We’re using a Cuisinart that Aaron’s parents got him when we moved into our second apartment years ago. It works really well and is simple to operate with a single switch. It makes 2 quarts of ice cream at a time, though this particular recipe yields around 3 pints so there was plenty of room left for the raisins, which we’ll add later.
It took around 30 minutes for the ice cream to thicken to the consistency of soft serve. Toward the end, it was time to add the rum raisins that we had soaked and filtered, allowing the ice cream maker to get them properly mixed into the dessert.
At this point, this is what the ice cream maker looked like as it continued to churn for the final few minutes …
Once that was done, we stopped the machine and prepared to transfer the now soft-serve rum raisin ice cream to air tight containers to freeze.
It was beautiful up close … all of that cinnamon and rich, creamy flavor.
We split our two pints across two different containers of roughly equal size. The trick with this recipe is the ice cream needs to freeze for 24 hours, rather than the usual 2 to 4 hours. The reason: The rum in the raisins is heavily concentrated at the moment. If you were to take a bite of it, it would be like a mini-shot of pure rum, overwhelming the flavor profile. Instead, you want the raisins to release a lot of the liquid into the ice cream as it crystallizes, mellowing through diffusion.
Update: The Rum Raisin Ice Cream the Next Day
The ice cream itself is fantastic – this is very, very rich stuff that is leagues head of the commercial “frozen dessert product” you get with a lot of major ice cream brands due to the practice of adding air to reduce costs and improve profit margins. The whole batch contains 3,410 calories so make sure you divide and measure it appropriately, though given how concentrated it is, it doesn’t take much to satiate a person.
The biggest problem Aaron and I have is the alcohol in the rum is too strong for us, even a day later. If I were re-making this solely for in-house consumption, I’d cut the number of raisins in half so the overall rum absorption was a lot lower, removing much of the bite. On the other hand, if it continues to sit for several days, it should mellow considerably as the ice cream absorbs the rum held within the raisins.
We’re probably going to make the rounds later and have people try it as there is no way he and I can go through this much real ice cream.
If you’re interested in making your own ice cream or the ice cream business, there is a nice article here that details some of the equipment and scientific techniques involved in getting certain end results. America’s Test Kitchen also has a technique they use to result in more commercial home ice cream, which involves substituting a portion of the sugar with corn syrup and then retaining part of the ice cream base prior to mixing to then re-introduce after the rest has been churned in order to seed smaller crystal formation during the freezing process, resulting in a smoother texture.
I’m already dreaming up other homemade ice cream recipes we can try; pistachio, butter pecan, birthday cake, blueberry, espresso … this base is so good, it can be adapted in practically endless combinations. I bet green tea ice cream would be probably be good. And peanut butter cup; cookie dough; my dad and sister loved that nectarine and white chocolate cream pie, I bet I could adapt it into an ice cream flavor. It would make for a really fun science project, getting the balance and consistency of it right. I bet I’d have to juice the nectarines, creating a sort of extract to add to the final step right before putting in the ice cream machine, along with using macerated nectarines, though I’m not sure what would be ideal for soaking.
Update: We made a Lindt white chocolate ice cream recipe that turned out wonderfully.