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Wine Scream, You Scream

We all scream for wine-scream!

So, what is wine-scream exactly, other than a term I made up? It is the best of two delicious worlds: wine + ice cream. That’s right, wine isn’t just for drinking. A dynamic wine can also make a great syrup, glaze, cupcake, sorbet or, in this case, ice cream flavor. You may balk at a bin of Cabernet swirl sandwiched in between standards like strawberry and rocky road. But if nothing else, it is ice cream with an alcohol content, people. And as an added bonus, you can impress your friends with your sophisticated palate and adventurous ordering choices. It’s a win-win-win.

A good wine-scream shouldn’t taste like you are drinking a bottle you forgot in the freezer. The milk and cream help cut the taste of the alcohol, and when you throw in sugar and additional flavors to enhance the natural notes of the wine, you just might find yourself with an elegant, full-bodied dessert.

Fortunately, working at Lot18 gives me access to especially tasty wines. For my first foray into DIY wine-screaming, I chose a 2005 Facelli Private Reserve Merlot. To complement the dark berry and black currant notes of the wine, I adapted a recipe for rich vanilla custard and bought some dark chocolate pearls to throw into the mix. It was go big or go home…and since I was already home, I didn’t have much of a choice.

Since I was making a custard-style ice cream, the first step involved beating eggs and sugar into a fluffy, light-yellow batter. After that, this particular recipe called for two heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt.

Next, I heated up whole milk on the stovetop until it reached a fine simmer. After I got a little bubble action, I removed the hot milk – which smelled amazing, by the way – and poured it into the egg mixture. Technically, it’s supposed to be a slow pour-and-whisk maneuver, but I dumped in the whole thing and nobody got hurt.

After whisking all the ingredients together slowly in the mixing bowl, I poured the ingredients back into the “milk-heating” pot and put it on low heat. It is vital you do not boil or overheat the custard, as the eggs will scramble and all your hard work thus far will be ruined. RUINED. Just stay calm and keep it on low and your ice cream should be safe. I stirred slowly for about five minutes, just until the custard was thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

 

Phew, still with me? Okay, good.

I took the custard off the heat source and set it aside to cool. I strained the mixture into a new bowl, but honestly, I’m not sure it made much of a difference. Let’s leave it up to artistic license and move on, shall we?

While the custard cooled, I got the wine party started. Some recipes I found recommended mixing the wine with the custard “as is,” while others instructed to boil the wine and keep boiling it until it was almost a simple syrup. So, I compromised. I took about two cups of the Facelli Merlot and put it on high heat. The rest, I left up to a higher power.

 

While the wine bubbled on my stovetop, I added heavy cream and two teaspoons of vanilla extract to the custard. Be warned: vanilla extract is mighty powerful and has a tendency to dominate the conversation. You can always add more, so use it sparingly.

After about ten minutes of boiling, it was time to unite forces. I poured the hot, syrupy Merlot into the custard and stirred while laughing maniacally and shouting “She’s Alive. She’s Aliiiiiiive.”

 

At this point, the general advice is to cool your ice cream mixture overnight in the fridge. But being the impatient chef that I am, I usually throw it in the freezer for thirty minutes to an hour and find it to work just as well provided I don’t forget about it. But when you have a rich Merlot ice cream waiting to be churned – how could you possibly forget? You can’t.

So after tapping my feet in anticipation for 45 minutes, I started my prep. I plugged in the ice cream maker and pulled out the double-walled freezer bowl – make sure to put this bad boy in the freezer for at least 24 hours prior to use. After assembling the machine I turned it on, poured in the mix and let the churning mechanism work its magic. As the freezer bowl spun, I poured in the dark chocolate pearls, handful by handful.

 

Typically, you should let the ice cream maker run for about 20 minutes, but feel free to add or subtract a few minutes based on the consistency. It’s your ice cream; make it for you. Once my merlot wine-scream was done, it was still quite soft – so I put it in a vacuum-sealed plastic container and stuck it in the freezer overnight.

All in all, it took about two and a half hours to make this batch, plus freezing time. I was pleased with its rich taste – the vanilla and the Merlot go head-to-head nicely. I didn’t lose the taste of alcohol, but I did gain the taste and texture of dark chocolate.

Next time I’d like to try a sweet cream Riesling with peach and pear slices – I’ll start taking orders now.

Ingredient List: Merlot Vanilla Wine-Scream with Dark Chocolate

1 2/3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
2/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups Merlot (the more flavorful the wine, the more flavorful the ‘scream)
½ cup dark chocolate pearls or chunks