Serious Eats: Sweets
The Scoop: On The Benefits Of Hard Ice Cream
I'm setting myself to get attacked here. But as a person of very strange food likes/dislikes, I'm used to it.
You see, when normal people buy a pint of ice cream, they are happy to discover that in the time it takes them to get home, the ice cream is already half softened—they perhaps only need to leave it out on the counter for a bit longer for it to be perfect. Me? I'm sprinting home at warp speed, knocking over anyone in my way, and sticking that pint in the freezer for an undetermined amount of time to regain any firmness it lost on the ride home.
I do NOT like soft ice cream.
"You are ... odd." Ice Cream Czar Max once whispered to me, with a nervous smile, shaking his head and backing away.
Let me explain. When I was little kid, I loved mixing my ice cream into soup, just like any other normal, breathing 7 year old. Sure the first few bites of ice cream were fun, but the real joy was gleefully mashing it with a spoon until it was a milkshake in a bowl. But later, in my tween years, I began a heavy relationship with Haagen Dazs—namely Coffee and Vanilla Swiss Almond—and that all changed.
Anyone who has ever had a pint of Haagen Dazs in their freezer knows this: it will be rock hard when you take it out and put it on the counter. It will be rock hard 4 minutes later. It will be rock hard 7 minutes later when you dig a spoon in it (or chip, as I like to say) and are only able to extract a wee slip of ice cream. After 12 minutes*, when you've sprained your wrist angrily digging out a few tiny, flat scoops, you give up and stick it in the microwave.
*All numbers are not scientific, just the crazed musings of someone just desperately trying to get one decently sized scoop of scream.
I personally hate microwaving ice cream. Aside from the danger of giving it a soupy, repulsive texture, I really do think it's the coward's way out. Plus there's always the danger that you will over microwave—the damage from that being nearly irreversible. In those tween years, I discovered that the blood, sweat, and tears that went into scooping super hard ice cream gave me a virtuous feeling when eating it. Not only that, but with a high quality ice cream like HD, each sliver or chunk takes a nice couple moments to dissolve in your mouth. The creaminess isn't instant—you earn it as it melts in your mouth, releasing levels of flavor. It's nearly impossible for me to only have one spoonful of ice cream straight from the carton in the freezer, but I manage to keep it to that one spoonful, I want it to last.
I suppose the most shameful part of this whole thing is that (cover your eyes Carrie) I really don't like things à la mode. I know 99% of you are gasping in horror, but hopefully there's that 1% of you out there who feel me. Anyone....anyone?
Do I hate all soft ice cream? Certainly not. You can twist my arm to partake in some really good soft serve and if the ice cream has a lot of chunks of deliciousness in it, I don't mind if it's not super firm. But ideally? I want to be chipping away at a pint of HD, in the exposing light of the freezer, and savoring every hard-won sliver.