Over the weekend, I used my favorite new toy to whip up a batch of cinnamon ice cream. For those of you who aren't in the know, cinnamon ice cream was, for a long time, my favorite flavor. Finding it somewhere was always an extra-special treat because it was often seasonal, making its appearance only around the holidays. The only semi-reliable source was as an accompaniment to other desserts, such as apple pie, at restaurants. Over time, I acquired the habit of ordering a dessert just because it came with cinnamon ice cream. Occasionally, if I asked the server politely enough, a dish of just the cinnamon ice cream could be obtained.
Cinnamon might just be my favorite spice. It certainly seems to be the one that I go through faster than any other: I use it in copious amounts in my famous snickerdoodles; it is a subtle presence in my beloved Texas cake; I even throw some into some of my savory dishes, such as Cincinnati-style chili, and pasta with pumpkin cream sauce. Given my love for all things cinnamon, it was only logical to place cinnamon ice cream early in the experimentation queue for my new ice cream maker.
Careful, don't drool on your keyboard...
For a recipe, I looked no further than the bible of ice cream production, David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, since it has never steered me wrong in the past. This time, however, the results were slightly less stellar than I had been hoping for, but I am convinced that it was not due to the recipe, but rather, my ingredients. David's recipe calls for infusing a truly decadent number of cinnamon sticks in a mixture of milk and heavy cream for at least an hour. I did go out and buy new cinnamon sticks just for this project, but apparently, even ten brand-new sticks aren't enough when you buy the cheap stuff.
You see, most of what is sold as cinnamon in the United States is actually from a different plant all together. Cassia is a relative of true cinnamon, but lacks some of the intensity and complexity of true cinnamon, which is much more expensive, and can usually only be sourced from specialty spice purveyors and gourmet shops.
The next time I take a stab at homemade cinnamon ice cream, I think I'm going to have to make the extra investment, because while the texture of my recent batch was unctuous and smooth perfection, it didn't quite pack the wallop of cinnamon flavor for which I was hoping. It wasn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination, it just didn't capture the flavor profile that won over my taste-buds for so many years. Still, it was a worthy experiment, and I'm glad that I tried it. However, as soon as I polish off this batch, and get the freezer space back, I'll be moving on to other ice cream varieties for the time being.