“You remember that? Let me have jam, too. I still like it.”
Ivan called the waiter and ordered soup, jam, and tea.”
“I remember everything, Alyosha…”
Thus begins what must be one of the most remarkable conversations in literature. It goes on for pages. It goes on for chapters. It has acts like a play, movements like a symphony. And it all starts with the jam. I’m always moved by the intersection of food, memory, and comfort or kindness. The fact that it’s Ivan who remembers just kills me. He’s dark, doubting, cynical almost to the point of cruelty. You relate to him, certainly. He says the things you’re thinking (but more articulately!) or the things you try not to think because they’re too dark and hopeless. But you don’t love him – not until this moment. Everybody loves Alyosha, but I loved him more for still liking cherry jam, and for agreeing to order it. And because of the cherry jam we know that Ivan – cold, distant, disagreeable Ivan – loves Alyosha and always has. And for the first time, Alyosha know it too.
I like cherry jam, too. I like to bake it into cakes and cookies. And in this case, I put it in ice cream. I’m somewhat obsessed with vanilla. I literally dream about it. It’s not boring, or dull, or plain! It’s not white! For some time I’ve been dreaming of an intensely vanilla flavored ice cream. Really smooth and creamy and ridiculously vanilla-y. I got a few gift certificates for my birthday, to various places, and I bought vanilla powder, vanilla paste, and a vanilla bean. Oh yes! I decided to combine these with vanilla essence to make ice cream. If you don’t have any or all of these things, you could use extra vanilla essence. I also used brown sugar, because I didn’t want the ice cream to be white, and because I think the caramelly taste is nice with vanilla. I added a whole teaspoon of salt, to intensify the flavor. And, in honor of Alyosha, I melted some bittersweet chocolate with some cherry jam, and I drizzled it into the ice cream as it was freezing. It semi-hardened, creating lovely pockets of flavor and texture.
Here’s Drink Me with Song of the Ice Cream Truck.
1 1/2 cups milk
1 T flour
1 t sea salt
1 t vanilla essence (use 1 T if you don’t have any of the other vanilla products)
1 t vanilla powder
1 vanilla bean
1 t vanilla paste (it has seeds in it! lovely!)
2/3 + 2/3 cups brown sugar
2 cups cream
1 cup bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup cherry jam
Warm the milk with 2/3 cup brown sugar and the vanilla bean in it in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, 2/3 cups sugar, salt, vanilla essence, powder, and paste, and flour till light and fluffy. When the milk has little bubbles all around it, remove the vanilla bean (I washed mine to use again!) and slowly pour the milk into the eggs, whisking all the time.
Return everything to the heat, lower the heat slightly, and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Whisk a bit, to release some of the heat, and then refrigerate until completely cool.
When cool, add the cream, stirring till everything’s nice and smooth. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. As it’s freezing, every few minutes drizzle in a thin stream of chocolate and cherry jam, stirring. It should harden instantly, making ribbons. If your ice cream maker doesn’t allow you to add stuff as you go, it should work to drizzle and stir at the end of the process, in batches, while the ice cream is still soft.
(Warm the chocolate chips and jam in a small saucepan, and stir till the chips melt and the jam thins a little)
In the UK vanilla extract is the one to go for, though it is made with alcohol so shouldn’t be added to very hot mixtures, as the alcohol will evaporate, taking with it quite a bit of the flavour. (I only just found this out and in future when making fudge won’t add it till nearly the end of the beating part. Mmm, fudge…) Over here, vanilla essence isn’t made with real vanilla – it’s artificial flavouring.
Just another instance of our two countries being divided by a common language.(W Churchill).
Now I’m all confused! Maybe I meant extract. I can’t remember what they call it here and my bottle is gone. I think there’s artificial essence or real essence. But maybe the real essence is called extract? Aaarrthghgh!
you write absolutely lovely and engaging. you can take the most ordinary topic and make it sound fascinating. what is the name of the book?
Thank you so much! That’s so kind of you to say. And d’oh! Can’t believe I forgot the name of the book. It’s Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. It’s taking me a while to get through it, but I love it!!
They gave me that number above. I knew it was a phishing scam. Losers! How do we report this?.