It was the day before Valentine’s day and I was contemplating what I should make for Josh as a present. I settled on doughnut ice cream and was taking Amelia for her right-before-evening walk. I started contemplating the execution: soaking the doughnuts, infusing them in the milk vs. pureeing them in a blender with the milk and cream and then straining them.
We walk past the elementary school and out walks Sebastian. He’s six-ish, wearing a backpack that’s filled with way too many books, making it practically the size of him. He waves at Amelia and she immediately starts shaking her body with excitement like she’s doing The Twist. Sebastian asks if he can walk her to the corner and I say ok. We start to walk and he begins to tell me how he loves corgis and how they’re The Queen’s dog. He then asks if he can run and have her chase him in the field attached to the school. I say ok again and let her off the leash. He bolts down the field, she takes off, trying her hardest to catch up. They both run in the street and almost give me a heart attack, which makes me scream at both of them, asking if they’re lunatics. They come back and my stomach reenters my body. They run back and forth back and forth. Staring at their young energy makes me feel old, it makes me wish I was the one who was running, which is absurd because it could be. All I’d have to do is just run.
Sebastian falls to the grass and Amelia starts licking his face and he’s laughing and saying ew and laughing some more until finally Amelia stops and lays next to him. The sun is setting in this way only Los Angeles can set a sun. Hues of pink and blue and coral shoot out from the horizon making me contemplate God and nature and everything I say I don’t believe in. It’s transcendent.
I sit in the grass with them and listen while Sebastian tells me a confusing story, the way six-year-olds tell stories. I listen and nod and smile and listen some more and say to myself this is what good is. Sebastian’s brother calls him and they head home. Amelia and I walk off in the opposite direction to finish our walk.
And then I come home and make some of the best ice cream I’ve ever made.
Doughnut Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
3 yeasted glazed doughnuts, divided, plus more serving
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1. To infuse the milk, start by pour the milk into a large bowl. Tear 2 of the glazed doughnuts into bite-sized pieces and mix them into the milk. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight. When the milk is done infusing, pour the milk through a sieve, being sure to press the doughnut pieces so they expel any milk. Oh! and you might notice some glaze at the bottom of the bowl; make sure to get all of that too–it’s good stuff! The milk should measure out to 1 1/4 cups milk.
2. To a bowl, prepare an ice bath by adding 10 or so ice cubes and adding a few splashes of water. Set a slightly smaller bowl inside the bigger bowl and set a sieve or strain inside the smaller bowl. Set the whole ice bath contraption aside.
3. To a medium saucepan, add the infused doughnut-milk, sugar and salt; heat over medium until the milk reaches a slight simmer and the sugar dissolves. Once it reaches the simmer, remove the pan from the heat.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks together, thoroughly. Next you’re going to temper the milk mixture. Whisking the entire time, add about 1/4 cup of warm milk to the egg yolks. Add the remainder of the milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk. Return the entire mixture back to the medium saucepan and place over low heat. Cook the milk and yolk mixture, stirring constantly, until the thermometer reads 170 to 175 degrees F and the mixture appears thick and coats the back of the spoon.
5. Pour the mixture through the sieve into the bowl. Stir in the heavy cream. Keep mixing until the mixture is room temperature. Take your last doughnut, break it up into three large pieces and submerge them in the custard mixture. Wrap the bowl in plastic and transfer it to the fridge for 4-5 hours, or overnight, until very cold.
6. Remove the doughnut pieces from the custard mixture and discard them. Churn the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker, according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Serve immediately for soft serve or alternatively transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.
7. Serve ice cream with a few doughnuts on the side and a sprinkling of sprinkles.