I scream, you scream: Easy ice cream recipes

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I'm of two minds about ice cream. On one hand, there is nothing like homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. On the other, there's nothing like hitting the local ice cream shop for a scoop and community gossip.

Ice cream coneIce cream is exquisite any time of year but especially during summer

The city I grew up in is not known for gourmet ice cream, which I think is odd since it's such a scorching climate. The metropolitan area I live in now loves ice cream, even in the depths of bone-chilling winters. Go figure. Regardless, I love ice cream.

I'm often looking for new and interesting ice cream flavors, either in shops or to make myself. I grew up on the basics (chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip) and appreciate them to this day, but I'm getting more and more adventurous. Burnt caramel, mango with Grand Marnier, strawberry and basil…excuse me, but I need to make an emergency run to the freezer.

Okay, now that I'm back (and the Vermonty Python was quite tasty), let's continue talking about flavors.

Even ice cream flavors are seasonal and taste better during their seasons

Some flavors are best with the freshest in-season ingredients. Peach, for example. Fresh, juicy peaches make excellent ice cream. Strawberries, too.

Other times of the year, exotic spices are almost warming in that frozen concoction. Cardamom ice cream, anyone?

Summer, however, just seems to be ice cream's time -- the shops are open, the heat and lingering light of the longer days, both evoking the need for a creamy scoop or filled cone . Whether you choose well-made basics or go exotic, enjoy this time.

Ice Cream Recipes

Ice Cream Base

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup half-and-half
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream and half-and-half to a simmer. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk some of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, then add the egg yolks to the hot cream mixture. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, or until the mixture begins to boil and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat, cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Additions and Variations

Strawberry-Basil Ice Cream

3 cups ripe strawberries, sliced 6-8 basil leaves

Crush the basil into the simmering cream before whisking in the egg yolks. Puree 1/2 the strawberries in a blender until smooth. Mix the puree and the sliced strawberries into the cream mixture, remove the basil leaves, and chill.

Cardamom Ice Cream

1 vanilla bean, sliced and seed scraped out 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

Add the vanilla and the cardamom to the simmering cream. Just before chilling, remove the bean and the pods.

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