This is one of my all time favorites. I go to this recipe about 10 times a year, which is a lot considering how much I try to vary what I make. This recipe may seem a little tamer considering some of my other offerings, but there is no substitute for great cinnamon ice cream. You don’t need to use the bay leaf, but imparts a nice depth of flavor. It really isn’t perceptible on its own, but you know if it is missing.
Why do I mix the cinnamon into a paste before adding it to the base? The answer is that when cinnamon is added to the milk/cream it tends to clump into little balls that are wet on the outside, but dry inside. This makes for very bad ice cream because the cinnamon does not get distributed evenly throughout the base and leaves little depth charges of powder that ruin the taste and texture. By creating the paste you avoid this pitfall.
Although it is great by itself, there are a number of additives you use to vary the flavor. My wife likes it when I imitate the Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie ice cream by adding oatmeal cookies and chocolate chips. Toasted almonds also work well as do chocolate chunks and/or raisins. It is a wonderful accompaniment to apple or pecan pie served with calvados caramel from Emily Luchetti’s A Passion for Ice Cream.
Cinnamon Ice Cream
1 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cups milk
2 cups cream
4 egg yolks
1. Put 2 TBS of milk into a bowl with the cinnamon and mix until it is a paste. If you think it is still too thick, add a little more until it thins some.
2. Put the milk, cream, bay leaf, and half of the sugar into a pot and bring to a slight simmer stirring occasionally.
3. As the milk and cream are heating, place the egg yolks into a bowl with the sugar (and salt if using) and beat until it is a pale, frothy liquid.
4. Once the milk/cream mixture is simmering, remove them from the heat and temper the egg mixture by adding a small amount of the hot milk/cream and stirring thoroughly. Repeat this process a couple of more times to ensure that the eggs have warmed up. You should use about 1/3 of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
5. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cinnamon paste.
7. Cool the custard to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
8. Freeze in your ice cream machine. Don't forget to remove the bay leaf before freezing.