malted vanilla ice cream with kit kat

This ice cream was a challenge. Not because making ice cream from scratch is a difficult thing—I’ve made it many times before with success. But because sometimes I loose my head at the grocery store, throw reason out the window and buy something as a ‘substitute’ that should never, never be used as a substitute.

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It was a Tuesday night and I was making ice cream for our supper club later in the week. We were responsible for dessert and I’d brainstormed a glorious candy-filled concoction. I figured I’d make the custard quickly before Jordan got home from work and we sat down to dinner. I was already feeling a bit on edge before I began this culinary project, but like I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing like cooking to help me find my center. Except when a crucial error in judgment sends the whole thing into a sticky, custardy, teary tailspin. You can probably guess which ensued that fateful Tuesday.

Dear readers, Ovaltine, though technically a malted milk beverage, is NOT malted milk powder. Don’t let any discussion forum or milk wiki on the internet convince you otherwise. And don’t try and talk yourself into it after you’ve already been to four grocery stores and not one of them sold true malted milk powder. Let me just say it again: Ovaltine is not a viable substitute for malted milk, in any cooking context.

Thankfully, Jordan got home just as I was warming the milk and cream to add to my eggy-Ovaltine blend of poor decision making and pulled the emergency break on this disaster. This is how it went down.

J: Why are those eggs so brown? I thought malted milk was white? How much did you use?

E: I … I … I went to four grocery stores. I couldn’t find malted milk powder ANYWHERE. I even went up to the market all way up the hill. I was there forever trying to find it.  So looked it up online to see if I could substitute something. Some internet people say you can substitute Ovaltine. It’s probably fine ……………(panic)……………… It’s probably horrible. I’m such an idiot. I just ruined five eggs. Five beautiful eggs. They were from our CSA, you know. And now we’re out of eggs. And the city of San Francisco still won’t offer up any malted milk powder. (Collapse in heap on kitchen floor).

J: Well, before you add the milk, did you even taste it?

E: No. (Shame face).

J: Sutter Fine Foods has malted milk powder. Let me show you.

E: (Grumble, sniff, grab purse).

And so we walked down to the corner store on our block, Jordan led me to the baking section, grabbed a container of Carnation Malted Milk Powder from the top shelf and beamed. I may have muttered something about how this was the most damn annoying ice cream that I’ll ever make, paid the cashier, and scampered up the stairs to correct my mistakes of earlier in the evening.

With actual Carnation malted milk powder instead of Ovaltine, my custard was a beautiful pale yellow, and the final ice cream was delicious. There is nothing like the combination of malted milk, vanilla and kit kat to make a person forget the trials that led them to that delicious end. And, if you heed my advice and don’t get lured to the Ovaline dark side, you too can enjoy a perfect ice cream without the drama.

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Malted Vanilla Ice Cream with Kit Kat, adapted from Bi-Rite Market’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup malted milk powder (we used Carnation)
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Kit Kat bars, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Add the malted milk powder and whisk together.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream, milk, sugar and salt together. Bring just to a simmer. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture into the egg yolks, pouring the hot milk slowly into the eggs to temper them. Add another 1/2 cup of milk into the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.

Put a mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl or tupperware. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Over medium heat, stir the milk and egg mixture until it begins to thicken. When the ice cream base could coat a spoon, pour it through a mesh strainer into a bowl or tupperware. Cool the base in the ice water bath, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate the base overnight.

The next day, add the vanilla to the ice cream base. Pour it into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions. Meanwhile, chop up the kit kats.

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When the custard is just about frozen, add the kit kat pieces. Serve right away or put into a tupperware and freeze for another few hours to harden completely.

-Emily