People who are obsessive about coffee insist on drinking only straight espresso or drip coffee. In their view, milk obscures the fragrances and flavors that make the coffee distinct and exceptional. Whiskey lovers are the same way...ice numbs the palate, and while a little water is acceptable, neat is preferred. Yet in the world of great ice cream, the trend seems to be to create the most bizarre flavor combinations. Everyone wants you to try their new bacon-wasabi-cheddar ice cream.
Well, when it comes to ice cream, I like fun flavors as much of the next person, but I also like to taste it in its purest form, and that means sweet cream. Sweet cream is the basis of all ice cream. A creme anglaise (a custard of milk, eggs and sugar) with heavy cream. Creme anglaise itself is one of the wonders of the world and I am totally happy to eat it straight, but when you add cream and freeze it, it's sublime. Tasting the core ingredients stripped of any additives makes you understand that all ice cream really is "frozen custard."
When I lived in New England, sweet cream was on offered at all the great ice cream places. I've seen it occasionally since then, but recently it seems to have dropped off menus, or maybe it was just never as big in California.
So now, I make it myself in a little ice cream make I recieved as a wedding present many years ago. My only addition is a few teaspoons of maple syrup which adds to the depth of the sweet element but isn't enough to give a maple flavor.
After 40 minutes in the machine, it's soft, white, fluffy and pure. Ice cream at its most basic and wonderful form. Long live the sweet cream!