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American Sweets : Hot and Cold

June 24, 1993|ROSE LEVY BERANBAUM

Nothing rounds off a summer meal eaten under the stars like marshmallows roasted over the last embers of a campfire. But as wonderful as they are on their own, they can be improved.

Try splitting the roasted marshmallows into halves and nestling them against a scoop of this very vanilla ice cream. The crunchy surface of the marshmallows with warm, gooey, smoky-sweet centers blends perfectly with the ice cream.

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The secret to having intensely pure vanilla flavor without bitterness is to use the vanilla seeds as well as the extract. Since I love the flavor of both Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans, I use both. They should be available in specialty food stores such as Dean & DeLuca (800) 227-7714. If Tahitian vanilla beans are unavailable, use a total of three ordinary vanilla beans.

TRIPLE VANILLA LOVER'S ICE CREAM 8 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar Dash salt 3 cups whipping cream 1 cup milk 1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwise 1 Madagascar vanilla bean, split lengthwise 2 teaspoons pure vanilla 2 tablespoons vodka, optional

Stir together egg yolks (save egg whites for another use), sugar and salt in small, heavy, non-corrodible saucepan until well blended, using wooden spoon.

In another small saucepan (or heat-proof glass measure if using microwave oven on HIGH power) heat cream, milk and vanilla beans to boiling point. Stir few tablespoons into yolk mixture, then gradually add remainder, stirring constantly.

Heat mixture to just below boiling point (170 to 180 degrees). Steam will begin to appear and mixture will be slightly thicker than cream. It will leave well-defined track when finger is run across back of spoon. Immediately remove from heat and pour into fine strainer suspended over medium bowl, scraping up thickened cream that settles on bottom of pan. Remove vanilla beans and scrape seeds into sauce. Stir until seeds separate. Return pods to sauce until ready to freeze.

Cool in ice-water bath or refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours to overnight. Stir in vanilla and vodka. Freeze in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Allow ice cream to ripen at least 2 hours in freezer before serving. If held longer and very hard, allow to stand refrigerated or at room temperature until softened and creamy.

Ice cream has best texture within 3 days of freezing, but with vodka will maintain texture up to 1 week. Makes 5 to 6 cups.

Note : Custard mixture must be brought to at least 160 degrees so that it won't thin out on setting, but do not heat above 180 degrees or sauce will curdle. If mixture is beginning to curdle, pour instantly into blender and blend until smooth, then strain back into saucepan. Don't use whisk to stir unless using accurate thermometer. Foam will make it difficult to see when mixture is getting close to boiling. Do not add more than recommended amount of vodka or ice cream will not freeze. (Vodka acts as anti-freeze, preventing large ice crystals from forming.)

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