After a particularly terrible calculus exam in high school, Dan Storfer ’15 needed to distract himself.
“I took this exam thinking I just failed my midterm,” he said. “So I decided to bake to cope. I made five different types of pies for the next day.”
Storfer can still remember the flavors, too: glazed strawberry, orange curd with chocolate meringue, apple, blueberry-lime, and pecan. Before that fateful day, cooking and baking were only occasional activities for Storfer. Now, creating and experimenting with food is an inseparable part of Storfer’s college experience. From the kitchen in Science Hall, he will make just about anything for any occasion—even ice cream.
But that’s skipping a few steps in his story.
Storfer points to his parents for his life-long love of food. A joke in his family is that the moment his parents clicked as a couple was when they were baking cookies; they knew it was meant to be when they both knew what “meringue” meant.
Their baking legacy continues with their son.
“I learned how to knead dough when I was four years old,” Storfer said. “That was about the first time I made challah. I went on to baguettes, fresh bread, pastries, all that.”
When Storfer arrived at Wesleyan, his cooking habits changed out of necessity.
“The Fauver kitchen is awful,” he said.
Because the dorm kitchen didn’t provide him with the utensils and tools needed to properly bake, Storfer had to work to assemble his own utensils and tools and has gradually built up a solid toolkit of materials.
“I now have two bags that are essentially kitchens-in-bags,” Storfer said. “If you don’t have measuring spoons or measuring cups, you can’t bake.”
Before the successful accumulation of utensils, however, Storfer made use of what he had—with varying results.
“I made five apple pies with a Usdan knife last year,” he said. “It was just God-awful.”
Using ingredients from Weshop and his own supply of kitchen utensils, Storfer managed to assemble entire meals in his dorm kitchen, often with friends. To round out his dinners, he frequently makes ice cream.
Like most of the products of Storfer’s culinary career, his ice cream repertoire began with his family. And of course, he can’t get enough of the cold dessert.
“I’m an addict,” Storfer admitted. “I just really love ice cream.”
The summer before entering college, he said, his mom brought home an ice cream maker, hoping to make Ben and Jerry’s Georgia Peach recipe from a cookbook in their kitchen.
“I realized just how much better homemade ice cream is,” Storfer said.
From there, he went on to try red wine ice cream, peanut butter ice cream (to go with a chocolate Baked Alaska, which is a dessert made with sponge cake, ice cream, and meringue), pomegranate, blood orange, and kiwi.
Whatever the flavor, Storfer said, he can somehow turn it into ice cream.
“Ask and you shall receive,” he said. “I’m really indecisive, so mostly, pick a recipe, and I’ll find it or figure it out for you.”
Most of his dessert recipes are variations of original flavors in either his Ben and Jerry’s book, or deviations from the great varieties found in what Storfer calls his Pible: “The Pie and Pastry Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
“It’s a really intense book,” Storfer warned. “If you’re trying to start out, I don’t suggest it.”
Storfer’s blood orange ice cream and pomegranate ice cream stem from the same Pible recipe, which provides a way to use citrus-based ingredients without causing the milk to curdle.
Despite the approach of winter, Storfer is determined to continue to create his frozen desserts. His ingredients, however, will change. He says he typically uses berries in recipes during the summer, but when the weather turns, his creations—even his ice cream—will become richer.
Speaking of richer, Storfer noted that his ice cream fascination doesn’t break the bank. He estimated the ingredients for a quart of ice cream cost between eight or ten dollars at Weshop. He said that because it’s so cheap, he normally makes double batches, storing them en masse in his hallway’s freezers. It certainly comes in handy; after a particularly long Footloose rehearsal, Storfer offered his large supply of leftover kiwi and pomegranate ice cream to all of his fellow cast members who were interested in a late-night snack.
“We ended up eating it out of a giant bowl and just spooning it out,” said Sarah Greizer ’16. “That was not what I expected. It was really cool to be able to eat something homemade when you’re at college.”
Part of what he enjoys the most about cooking is sharing, so he tends to cook a lot for his friends.
“I’m really glad I enjoy the food I make,” Storfer said. “But it’s not much good cooking to eat alone.”
Storfer says he has more plans in store for culinary experimentation.
“I’ve done my candy, marshmallows, pastries, cakes, and pies,” Storfer said. “[So] the only things I’m missing are Italian desserts and dessert cheeses, because there are no books on them anywhere.”
Though Storfer possesses a great deal of technical skill in cooking, he said a lot of what he does—except, perhaps, separating egg yolks—can be reproduced easily by any student in any dorm kitchen. What Storfer’s creations boil down to, in the end, (in addition to having your own utensils, such as knives) are displays of experimentation, dedication, and passion.
“In my family, food is love,” Storfer said.
Dan Storfer’s Original Blood Orange Ice Cream
Makes 3 1/2 cups of ice cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup blood orange juice
A pinch of salt
1. In either a microwave or saucepan, reduce the blood orange juice over medium-low heat to half the original amount, or 1/2 cup.
2. In a saucepan, beat the yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar until well-blended. Stir in the lemon zest, reduced blood orange juice, butter, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should be opaque. Do not let the mixture boil. Steam is a warning sign for boiling—whenever steam appears, remove the mixture from the heat and stir to keep it from boiling.
3. If you have a strainer, strain the mixture into a large bowl. Don’t worry if you don’t; the coarse residue is edible and tasty, but the unstrained texture isn’t very good for the ice cream. Once stained (or not) you’ll have a very tasty blood-orange curd.
4. In another bowl, combine the milk, cream, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until well-blended (the sugar should be dissolved). Whisk this mixture into the curd. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for an hour (or however long until you’re ready to freeze).
5. Freezing: Place the bowl in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, stir the mixture until it becomes homogenous and then set it back in to freeze. Once there are defined ice crystals in the mixture, allow it to melt slightly while stirring until they are barely visible.
6. Leave the finished ice cream in the freezer for two to four hours before you can enjoy.