I tried rolled ice cream in Philly at Frozen on Arch Street, and watching the employee make it, I wondered if it was just that simple: melted ice cream on a cold tray, curled with a flat edge.
I started by making vanilla ice cream (the same recipe use in Personal Baked Alaskas), heating milk, cream, sugar, vanilla pods, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Meanwhile I whisked egg yolks and more sugar in a bowl. When the milk/cream mixture was just coming to a boil I poured a third of it into the yolk, mixed, then poured another third in. Finally I poured everything back into the saucepan and stirred slowly over a low heat. Don’t let it boil, just thicken, then let it come to room temperature. I added vanilla extract and put it in the freezer for forty minutes (the instructions suggest the fridge for two hours). Afterwards I put it in an ice cream maker for just under an hour.
As it churned I put a quarter cup of water in a saucepan with about two tablespoons of sugar and three teaspoons of instant coffee–these are approximations, I just sort of added more and more sugar and coffee until I got the right taste and consistency for my syrup. When the ice cream is rolled, drizzle it on top. You can also boil it until it froths (make sure to stir constantly so it doesn’t burn to the pot) and spoon the froth onto your ice cream.
When my ice cream was churned I ladled it onto a flat tray that had been frozen for six hours. I then spread it around until it was a thin layer. Seeing that my ice cream was still too soft I put it in the freezer. Twenty minutes later, I took it out of the freezer and prepared a cup of cold water to hold my metal spatula. That way, between ice cream rolls, I was able to rinse my spatula, avoiding build up.
When I rolled the ice cream I tried a few techniques, but the best was definitely holding the spatula straight up–a 90° angle from the tray–and pushing slowly. I had to push, then fold, then push before the ice cream actually began rolling, but soon I was getting spirals. I had to work fast because the ice cream was melting in front of me. I made one large spiral, placed it carefully in an espresso cup, then drizzled my coffee syrup on top and added chocolate chips. At this point the ice cream had already melted, so next time I would probably put the espresso cup in the freezer for a while before dishing.
The most important part of making rolled ice cream is keeping things cold. Otherwise, it’s pretty much exactly what it looks like. Rolled ice cream is great presentation wise and doesn’t take long to make if you get it right the first time. Still, I think I prefer ordering it at Frozen.