Sunday, August 5, 2012

homemade ice cream

I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker that I've been using for about two years now.  I made a lot of frozen yogurt in Manila because we had access to really great Greek yogurt and it was a healthier dessert for all of us. In Ethiopia we eat so little junk that we indulge in rich full cream ice cream when I can get local whipping cream.  It's absolutely delicious and you should try it, even if it's just once as a pure indulgence.

If you want to get into ice cream making at home, I highly recommend Ben &Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.  It has great recipes.  But, if you want to save yourself the trouble there is really only one recipe you need to know.  It's the basic sweet cream base.  I use this base over and over.  I memorized it and now I never open the book unless it's to browse for new ideas.

Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar

In a bowl whisk eggs until light and fluffy, add 3/4 cup sugar in increments, whisking in between each addition.  Continue whisking eggs and sugar until combined.  Add cream and milk and whisk until combined.

From here, you can take the sweet cream base anywhere.  Two teaspoon of vanilla extract will get you a nice french vanilla.  Or peppermint extract can be the base for chocolate chip mint.  Crushed cookies for cookies-n-cream, malt powder and shaved chocolate, sprinkles, nuts, candy bar chunks, strawberries, toffee bits...the ideas are endless.

One of my favorites is my own version of mint chip.  I add 2 teaspoons of good quality Nielsen-Massey pure peppermint extract to the sweet cream base (McCormick's brand flavoring is fine too but if you are as serious about your mint ice cream as I am, you will want to invest in some of this good quality flavoring-plus it's perfect for holiday peppermint hot chocolate). Shave about 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate with a sharp knife.  Add the shavings to the liquid mixture.  I personally like the shaved chocolate texture better than the frozen chunk of a chocolate chip.

Tips (some things I've learned after making lots of batches of ice cream):

  • Use the freshest eggs you can find.  This might mean farm to table eggs from your local market or the best quality you can get at the store.  I'm using Ethiopian eggs and they are great-never had an issue.
  • If you decide against the eggs in your ice cream, you can expect to get a less rich and creamy ice cream.  It will not freeze well so you will need to eat it all at the time you make it or else you will have icy ice cream from freezing.  
  • If you are really squeamish I'd suggest sticking with a frozen yogurt or sorbet recipe.  Ice cream should be made with eggs for emulsifying the butter fat.  I feel really strongly about this.
  • Refrigerate your liquid base mixture for a few hours before putting it in your ice cream maker.  This is key.  The churning process will not freeze room temp liquids properly.  Best to start off as cold as you can.
  • For cookies, candies, nuts, or other add-in you will want to add them when the ice cream is mostly done churning in the machine.  Simply pour the add-in in the top and let it slowly mix with the paddle.  
  • Freeze your add-ins before adding them or else they will warm your churned ice cream.
  • Chocolate chips (or shaved chocolate from the bar) are fine to add to the liquid mixture before hand because they will not melt in the liquid while refrigerating.
  • Freeze your ice cream maker's freezer bowl overnight before use.  
  • Have the churning paddle inside the freezer bowl before you pour in the liquid mixture.  
  • Churn the ice cream for a good 5-10 minutes past when you think it's done.  The more air churned in the more fluffy and divine the texture once frozen.  
  • Cool your storage bowl in the freezer so the bowl is cold when you transfer the ice cream. A bowl with a air tight lid is ideal for keeping the ice cream fresh in the freezer for many days.
  • Make ice cream the night before you plan to serve for best frozen texture (see fluffy texture in the first photo).  We eat the ice cream the same night I make it all the time,  the texture is more like soft serve and it melts really fast.

mint chip ice cream churning
soft serve version right out of the machine
ice cream after it's had two hours to freeze, overnight is even better.


Daniela Swider said...

We have an ice-cream maker but we haven't used it in a couple of years. We keep the parts in the freezer, so everything's ready, I need to break it out and start it. I might just do that now that I've read your post.

Danielle said...

homemade ice cream (with a cake or cookies) is now my go-to dessert when we have people over for dinner. I make the base the day before and let it chill overnight (I think it tastes better when things have time to blend) and then make it before dinner. Have you tried fennel ice cream yet? It's my favorite fun sort of wow-factor flavor and it goes well with a dark chocolate flourless type of cake. Also have been experimenting with some of the Jenni's Splendid ice cream recipes that have cream cheese and corn starch but no eggs--the vanilla version was probably the best I've ever had.

Sara said...

Ooh! I will have to look up those recipes. It's fun to experiment with the base flavor. fennel sounds yummy, almost like lavender or another interesting herb ice cream.

Daniela-you should bust that thing out and start having fun with it. I want to try Gelato next!