On the menu: Rum, Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan Ice Cream
There’s that quote: Do one thing every day that scares you. It popped into my head yesterday. I Googled it. Eleanor Roosevelt said that.
You guys, I am terrified this week. I’m doing fieldwork. My own field experiments for my dissertation. My Master’s degree didn’t require fieldwork, so this is something new for me. Yesterday I was out in 90 degree heat, alone, lugging around wooden stakes and power tools to lay out transects for sampling bees, which I hope to do next week, weather permitting. I have six field sites, all under power lines (so there’s no shade!), three near blueberry fields, three in the middle of the forest. I got to three of them yesterday. The heat was brutal. The blackflies were worse. Well, maybe they weren’t worse. I can deal with the flies (indicated by the myriad red lumps covering my arms today), but I thought I was going to die under the full sun of high noon.
I called Kevin after finishing my first site. The first site is the worst site, with vegetation up to my chin, rough terrain, and lots of wet spots to soak my socks. It took 2 1/2 hours to lay my transect. I had drank 2 liters of water, but I wasn’t sweating, and I was more than a little disoriented. I called Kevin, and I couldn’t even talk at first because I was crying so hard. I hate this, I finally said. I hate this more than anything. This is the worst. Kevin asked me about the other sites I needed to get to that day. I started talking about them: what they looked like, how easy it was to move through them compared to the first site, where I would park my car when I got there. I began to feel a little better. I had made it through the worst site at the worst time of the day; it can only get easier (and a bit cooler!) from here. I turned my car on, turned up the A/C to full blast, and started driving. My confidence came back, and I visited two more sites before calling it quits for the day and driving two hours back to campus.
I’m going back out tomorrow. Now that I know what to expect (and I’ll have someone with me), I’m not so scared. But I was freaked out as all hell yesterday. Do one thing everyday that scares you. That quote popped into my head on my drive back from the field. I’m so, so comfortable with routine, with sameness, with knowing what to expect on any given day. I’m so, so awful at doing new things. My whole insides quiver with panic at the thought. But everything usually turns out all right, so why the panic? I guess it leads to a hyper-vigilance to do that thing right, slowly and deliberately. And once you do that thing one time, it gets easier. It teaches you a new skill set and gives you a bit of confidence to pursue the next scary task. At least that’s how it works for me.
That same panic happened on a much smaller scale when I thought of this ice cream. We’ve been on a Dark & Stormy kick lately, so spiced rum is now an alcohol cabinet staple. I love using spiced rum in baking. I made spiced rum crepes with a friend in college…oh, my gosh. SO good. Obviously it’s too hot to bake, so I thought I’d put some rum in ice cream instead. But I didn’t want plain rum ice cream. I rifled through the kitchen to see what we had that would pair well, and I found pecans, and a bag of cherries. I wanted chocolate, too. Gears started moving in my head. I made the custard for the ice cream and the rum-soaked cherries and let them sit overnight. I churned it the next morning. When putting alcohol in ice cream, don’t add more than 1/4 cup; any more than that will prevent the ice cream from churning properly. This batch churned up quite well. To get the chocolate distributed the way I wanted, I used a stracciatella technique that I read about on Five and Spice a while back. I added in the cherries and pecans toward the end of the churn, put the ice cream in a loaf pan (it freezes better in a low, flat container), and let it finish in the freezer.
This ice cream is spicy and a bit boozy, but the pieces of chocolate throughout sweeten each bite. It would have been the perfect ending to my overheated day yesterday, but I had a birthday cupcake and a shower beer instead. It was just what I needed after a big scare.
Rum, Chocolate, Cherry, and Pecan Ice Cream
adapted from Epicurious
Yield: Makes about 1 quart
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup dark rum
one 3.5 oz bar dark chocolate (I used 60%)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
one recipe Rum-soaked cherries, recipe below
Bring cream, milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and nutmeg to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring.
Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon.
Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in rum and chill custard at least 6 hours or overnight.
Freeze in ice cream maker for 15 minutes before drizzling in melted chocolate. Let churn until well mixed, then add the pecans and cherries gradually and let them churn through. Transfer to an airtight container (I used a 9×5 loaf pan wrapped in plastic wrap and tin foil) and put in freezer to harden, about 2 hours.
1 1/4 cup (7.5 oz) sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Combine all ingredients in a small container and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.