For a Sweet New Year: Apple Cider Ice Cream

שנה טובה‎‎ (shanah tovah) and happy new year! Tonight is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year (5778)! Actually, it’s one of four new year days each year, but this is the one that is we really celebrate since it’s the new year for the calendar and for seasons. All sorts of stuff happens, such as the blowing of the shofar and, like many Jewish Holidays, it’s celebrated with a feast.

Traditionally we eat apples and honey to represent a sweet year to come. Often they’re sliced and dipped, though sometimes it’s incorporated into food like an apple brisket. I haven’t really discussed it here, though I could have sworn I had, but one of my passions is ice cream. Eating, yes, but also making. I have a hand churn maker, the kind that you have to freeze the core ahead of time, but when I started my current job I treated myself to an ice cream maker with a motor and compressor to celebrate. So one year I thought it would be fun to create a Rosh Hashana ice cream, a recipe specifically made to prepare for a sweet year and share with people.

I sequestered myself in my laboratory and got to work. I’ve had apple ice creams before, but they tend to be on the mild side, and I wanted something heavy and special. I started with a French style custard base to make for a heavier flavor. I think of it as a lower tone food because I actually experience flavors as being tied to sounds, and I wanted this ice cream to have a baseline. Cinnamon next, to incorporate the season. But the apple took me a little while. Rather than just chopping and blending, I wanted something to really bring out the deeper flavors of the fruit. Cooked first? Possibly. Spiced and baked? Closer. And then it hit me.

Apple cider.

And so I mixed and boiled up an apple cider reduction syrup and it all came together. So this new year, as we go from 5777 to 5778, I am sharing what will be the first of (hopefully) many ice cream recipes. This one is complicated but worth it. And happy new year!

Apple Cider Ice Cream

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cinnamon to taste (I used 3-4 dashes)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • apple butter
  • honey
  1. Combine the cider, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, mixing with slotted spoon. Boil until the cider is as thick as maple syrup and the sugar has caramelized. As the cider reduces in volume, it will bubble up to the top of the pan. When this happens, lift the pan off the heat and stir until the bubbles subside, and then continue cooking. Don’t be afraid of the boiling as this is when it actually loses water and becomes the reduction.
  2. While the syrup is cooking, scald the cream and milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. (The mixture is ready when you see small bubbles around the edge of the pan and steam rising from the surface.) A wrinkled “skin” may also be present; just leave it alone. Keep hot over low heat.
  3. As soon as the syrup is ready, pour it into the hot cream and milk while whisking vigorously. Keep over low heat, whisking constantly, until the syrup is thoroughly incorporated into the cream mixture. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks, salt, and vanilla. Whisk in the cider syrup/cream mixture. Scrape the mixture into the saucepan and set the pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly but gently with a heat-proof spatula, going all around the sides and bottom of the pan. Do this until the custard thickens enough to coat a metal spoon, about 10 minutes.
  5. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour through a fine strainer, into a bowl. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. When pouring soft-serve into container to freeze hard, spoon in apple butter between layers.  When all is poured out stick in spoon and mix up the layers a little.  Then freeze.
  8. When serving drizzle with thin lines of honey. This will quickly freeze and harden as a topping.

About Adam

Adam is a Jewish American who's sick of the white Christian male being America's "default" setting. For money he works in a public library because free books and information access are wonderful things. For love he writes here for his pet project, The Chaotic Neutral, which is always looking for more writers. You can follow him on Instagram, Goodreads, and at his oft neglected Twitter where he will try to post more, and probably live-tweet the Eurovision Song Contest.

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