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.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream Recipe Soaking Raisins

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.

Straining Raisins and Rum for Ice Cream Recipe

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).

Rum Raisin Ice Cream Recipe Ingredient Preparation

Next, it was time to start.  Over medium heat, we constantly stirred the ingredients in the copper pot until the concoction began to steam.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream Recipe Heating Milk and Sugar Mixture

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.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream Mixing Egg Yolks

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.

Transfer the Rum Raisin Ice Cream Mix Back to the Pan

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.

Constantly Stir Rum Raisin Ice Cream Over Medium Heat

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.

Strain Out the Milk Fats in the Ice Cream

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.

Creamy Rum Raisin Ice Cream Base

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!).

Transfer Rum Raisin Ice Cream Into Ice Cream Maker Bowl

Awesome.  Now, we need to get the ice cream maker setup while I go play Tales of Zestiria.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream In Ice Cream Maker Bowl

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.

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

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.

Adding Rum Raisins to Ice Cream Maker

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.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream Ready to Freeze

It was beautiful up close … all of that cinnamon and rich, creamy flavor.

Closeup of Ready to Freeze Rum Raisin Ice Cream

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.

Putting the Rum Raisin Ice Cream in Air Tight Containers for 24 Hours

Update: The Rum Raisin Ice Cream the Next Day

Homemade Rum Raisin Ice Cream with Cinnamon and Vanilla

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.

  • dave (nestle)

    Dude. Really appreciate your in depth recipes!

    I made your corn chowder three nights ago and it was killer! I left out the thyme though, didnt have any.And I think I will leave out the bacon next time(my daughter doesnt eat reddish meat and Indont think I will lose too much flavor).
    I paired it with “flat iron” steaks (all the ‘Mettiganns’ saying what steak?) cooked to perfection using Jamie Oliver’s technique. It’s the best way to cook steak imo.

    Now I am starving again.

    • Glad it turned out well. My brother is crazy about that corn chowder. I really should make it more often for him.

      My quest for now: I’d like to find a way to make marshmallow graham cracker ice cream; Aaron wants hot fudge on top. This is going to take over my after-work personal time, Dave. We’re both still sitting at our desks (it’s 12:50 a.m.) watching reviews of different ice cream makers and coming up with a list of recipe trials and techniques.

      I don’t have nearly enough people in my life to justify the amount of heavy cream I’m going to be purchasing in the foreseeable future. I’m thinking I can probably save some money if I go directly to one of the dairies around here and offer to buy it in one large order. The thing is, for this recipe, we bought a heavy cream that is 40% butterfat versus 36% in standard heavy creams so finding it might be tricky. I suppose I could call Anderson Erickson up in Des Moines …

    • TheSplash

      Typical Josh Kennon post: go in to learn about making ice cream, come out wanting to try a new way of cooking steak. 🙂

  • Ang

    That looks yummy. Seriouseats is one of my favorite sites because of Kenji alt Lopez.

    I also ran into these flavor profiles the other day: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/8-healthy-ice-cream-recipes

    The ginger/saffron/vanilla combination makes my mouth water

    • Cool link! This is the sort of thing I love reading. The blueberry / banana and peanut butter / honey look particularly tasty to me. Though we have some saffron in the cabinet that we haven’t used, yet, so I’d be up for trying the ginger/saffron/vanilla. It sounds intriguing. If you happen to make a batch before we do, let me know your verdict.

      I’m sort of intrigued by this plum cardamom ice cream recipe. We have a bunch of caradmom pods left over from the Shahi Murgh Badaami we made back in June so it would give me a good excuse to use the rest of them.

      The interesting thing is going to be figuring out the bases we want to use – the foundation that results in the particular richness, texture, and flavor density. This recipe on this post is old-school straight-off-the-dairy-farm heavy cream, which I enjoy (we took the rum raisin ice cream over to my parents’ office for them to try it and my sister said it was the best ice cream she had ever had (she doesn’t like raisins, so she was trying the cinnamon / vanilla base, which we can figure out how to personalize for her later now that I know she likes it so much); my in-laws are coming over to sample it after dinner, too.) I saw one modification that involved using freshly made whipped cream, chocolate, and milk to create a much lighter soft-serve like consistency (think Wendy’s Frosty). There are so many different varieties, I can tell it’s going to be a lot of fun to experiment with them.

      I’m looking at restaurant supply companies now to get the different trays and packaging so I can be methodical in our testing. This is going to turn into a hobby, I think.

  • David Bell

    One suggestion if you decide to try this one again — use Gosling’s Black Seal rum instead of Myer’s Dark. It has a MUCH less ‘alcoholic’ aftertaste.

    • This sounds like a great tip; can’t wait to try it in the next recipe! Thanks!!!

  • IlovePi314159265359

    Looks fantastic. I also appreciate your in-depth recipes, and made the cinnamon rolls with my daughter a few months ago. They were fantastic. It tempts me to buy an ice cream maker and throw some of the cinnamon rolls into an ice cream. I would also like to make an espresso ice cream with jelly doughnut pieces in it,

    • I’m glad you liked the cinnamon roll recipe. I bet it wouldn’t be hard to convert into an ice cream flavor; cream cheese along with the heavy cream in the base, lots of cinnamon and sugar; I bet you’d want to make some sort of brown sugar cinnamon mix-in that got folded into the ice cream after it was frozen (like Coldstone) so you had streaks of cinnamon gooey goodness interspersed throughout each bite. That would be a lot of fun to try.

  • rgb

    Rum Raisin! One of the greatest lines from the movie, City Slickers

  • David Hughes

    I’ve been on a bit of an ice cream making kick myself – and even have the same machine you do (free from a now-diabetic and completely milk intolerant family member). I’m probably the only person in the family that would like the raisins, but I think everyone would like the base flavor.

    Wanted to say I appreciate your step-by-step guide on the custard process. Much better than previous recipes I’ve read. Previously I’ve just done “fast” ice cream without eggs but I’m starting to experiment with custards now.

    Surprised, though, you didn’t cool the mixture down in the fridge before churning? It’s not too hot for the freezer bowl? If not, that will save me some time and mess – the recipes I’ve tried all indicated you had to refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours before churning.

    • Oh man, I’m glad you caught that, thanks! We did cool the bowl and custard for 4-5 hours in the refrigerator before churning (otherwise, it wouldn’t have turned into ice cream; no way the machine could have handled it, like you said). I’ll edit the post to make that clear in case someone doesn’t realize it.