April 30th: Children’s Day

You would think the final days of April would bring mentions all over Mexico of the approaching Cinco de Mayo celebrations. And you would think wrong.

For the most part, there aren’t many celebrations for the 5th of May. It isn’t a national holiday, and unless you’re in Puebla, is my not be mentioned as a thing at all – but this is an old story.

What you may find being eagerly anticipated is April 30th, El Día de los Niños, Children’s Day.

This holiday originated in 1925, as a result of the World Conference for the first World Conference for the Well Being of Children, held in Geneva on the same year. Many countries adopted a day in which to celebrate the happiness and well-being of children with special activities, gifts and toys.

A treat of this day both my Dad and maternal Grandmother have spoken of is of receiving a melon half filled with vanilla ice cream at their schools. It’s a strange combination at first, but after a few bites, the flavors meld together to be sweet, creamy and refreshing all at once.

In the United States, April 30th has been adopted as Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, thanks to the efforts of children’s book author Pat Mora, whose book La Señora de la Panadería I dearly love. The day is meant to promote literacy for children of all backgrounds.

The following recipe for vanilla ice cream is heavily adapted from the go to man for all things ice cream, David Lebovitz. As he points out, something needs to be done with all those left over egg whites. One of his recommended recipes is this light and airy cake.

melon_icecream
Vanilla ice cream with melon, a Mexican Día de los Niños treat.

 

Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 500 ml (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Place 1 cup of heavy cream, the milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla mean in half length wise, scrape the beans into the pot, and add the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, remove from heat and allow to infuse for an hour.

Reheat the vanilla cream over low heat and place a stainless steel or glass bowl in the freezer to chill. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring approximately 1/2 cup of the warm cream, whisking continuously while doing so. Add the yolk mixture to the pot, whisking continuously.

Cook over low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens enough to show ribbons from the whisk wires. If desired, use a double boiler.

Remove the bowl from the freezer, add the remaining cream and vanilla extract, placing a fine mesh strainer over it. Pour the custard through, lightly whisking to push it past the mesh. Mix well to combine. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely, a minimum of 2 hours, or up to overnight. Stirring regularly will accelerate the process.

Run through an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s recommendations.

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