People need to know about this," says my mother. That "this" is a recipe for peppermint ice cream.
The recipe is decades and decades old, given to my mother by her mother-in-law when she and my father were newlyweds. Its official title is "World War II Ice Cream." The name reflects both its era and its ingenuity. Because sugar was rationed during the war, the recipe uses hard peppermint candies in place of loose sugar.
I recently made a batch because I had a yard sale.
Several years ago, somebody gave me an ice-cream maker — no occasion, just because. I greeted this kind gesture with a huff and said, "I don't want this!" I may have kicked the box for added emphasis.
It's the layering of the rock salt and ice that inevitably gets everywhere no matter what, that crank-y, grating noise, the hours and hours of waiting for the goods ... what's the point of putting out all that effort when something cheaper and just as tasty is available just around the corner at every convenience store?
I used the machine once (I have no memory of the results) and then put it in my attic and forgot about it until I was gathering stuff for the yard sale. It was a goner for sure, but guilty second thoughts — only used once — had me buying salt, milk, and cream. And then I had third thoughts about that peppermint ice cream.
My family traditionally makes it at Christmas, but it's especially delicious on hot summer days. Plus, it's easy — just three ingredients and, best of all, no ice-cream maker required.
I grate bittersweet chocolate to top it for added oomph. "When I want to be extra fancy, I serve it in homemade meringue shells," my mother says. "Tell them that." Consider yourselves told.
World War II Ice Cream
Makes 2 to 3 pints
1 lb hard peppermint candies
2 cups milk
1 pint whipping cream
In a large saucepan, melt candies in milk over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid letting the candies
stick to the pan or the milk scald.
Let cool for half an hour or so. Fold in cream. Pour mixture into a container and put in freezer.
Stir after a few hours to avoid crystallization. Stir again a few hours later if needed. Let set overnight then enjoy.
With regard to the milk and cream, you can use low-fat milk and half-and-half, but I recommend the fattier stuff. It makes the ice cream richer.
Also, you must use the hard-candy peppermints rather than the soft kind. The recipe's biggest chore is unwrapping the candies, but this can be done while watching TV or you can enlist help and talk about how good this ice cream is going to be.