I scream, you scream
July 9, 2015 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Summer's upon us, and that means it's time to wallow in delicious ice cream over at Serious Eats. Learn how to make sorbet, sherbet, gelato, fro-yo, and soft serve. While you're at it, mix in the best ways to swirl in chocolate, nuts, and booze. Top it off with myth-dispelling advice from the pros on when to use corn syrup, age an ice cream base, add eggs to a recipe, incorporate a stabilizer, and create a smoky finish. If the ice cream sounds like too much work, make a no-churn Key Lime Pie instead. For you vegans out there, we've got something for you too.
posted by sciatrix (25 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Ahhh, this makes me happy. :-)

Best ice cream I made recently was a chocolate raspberry ice cream I got from David Lebovitz's book - delicious, but it uses all cream rather than some cream and some milk, so it's probably really rich. (There are also whole raspberries that get pureed, and that cuts the fat some.)

Will probably be making some mocha chocolate chip from the Ample Hills recipe book soon, and I'm also waiting to make a limoncello sorbet from the same book in a few weeks (I'm making the limoncello from scratch, and it won't be ready until the first of August).

I just wish there were more options for "small-batch" ice cream - most recipes are quart-size quantities and so are most churns, and I really only make a pint at a time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on July 9, 2015

This is relevant to my interests. I just got a fancy new ice cream maker.
posted by misterpatrick at 7:55 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I made a ton of ice cream before I stopped eating dairy. A friend got me David Lebovitz's book, which is great (although these days you can pretty much google anything you could find in a cookbook).

Once you get the hang of it, making ice cream has one of the highest ratios of delight to effort, among home cooking projects. My favorite flavor I ever made was probably a sweet corn ice cream.* The sugar and cream transform the flavor of corn into something new and amazing. Leave some corn kernels in, and the freezing makes them soft and chewy like caramel. Seriously a revelation. (IIRC the recipe is basically: break up a few fresh corncobs. Steep the pieces in your ice cream base on low heat for a while. Add some kernels. Make ice cream.)

Another weird flavor I made and enjoyed was olive oil. Make sure you use a flavorful oil; the stuff I buy in huge gas cans from Whole Foods would not make a good ice cream. Some failed experiments: coconut basil, red curry. (Would a yellow curry work better? . . .) I made an "Indonesian-style" chocolate-avocado flavor that was just okay.

"Ice cream" without dairy has been somewhat discouraging to work with. For texture, eggs are much more important than cream, and it's possible to get a great ice cream texture using non-dairy fats. But the flavor suffers. I have made coconut-based ice creams quite a few times, and they always wind up with an acrid coconut flavor in the background. Oddly, I usually love the flavor of coconut, but something in my process always brings out unpleasant sharp notes. I'm not sure what the problem is.

I haven't tried to make soy-based ice cream yet, but I've never had a soy-based ice cream I really liked. Almond base is a little different -- I've enjoyed some commercial almond-based ice creams. But the almond flavor tends to dominate, making them relatively bitter and dull. I like bitter and dull ice creams, e.g. a matcha flavor. But it's a serious limitation on the flavor palate. Dunno, maybe I will try it. It might go with that yellow curry idea. Or I have some blueberry jam sitting around, I wonder what that would go with. I could do a sorbet?

*But, honorable mention, the Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet recipe from Lebovitz is FANTASTIC. I almost feel bad linking to it because he deserves people buying the book. Make it. If you love it, and you plan on making a lot of ice creams, buy the book.
posted by grobstein at 7:58 AM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Hands down, the best store-bought vegan ice cream I've had is by Booja Booja. Most of the flavours have only 4 ingredients, and all are recognisable (the base ingredients are usually agave syrup, cashew nuts, and water). And the ginger ice cream: wow, is that spicy! It isn't cheap, but I try to make 500ml last 5 servings, which works fine for me.
posted by Halo in reverse at 8:09 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

We have this book for making vegan ice cream and so far, not a stinker in the bunch. This thread reminds me I need to bung my ice cream maker insert in the freezer tonight!
posted by Kitteh at 8:11 AM on July 9, 2015

For you vegans out there, we've got something for you too.

Ooh, ooh, I have another!

If you are, as I am, much too lazy to make your own ice cream, get thee to a supermarket and pick up a pint of Steve's Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream, made with a coconut cream base. It's. Just. I mean. Dear lord. Goddamnit, I can't even articulate words when I just think about it, let alone eat it. Easily the creamiest, most delicious, stealthily vegan ice cream of all time. OF ALL TIME!

For my fellow miscreant vegans who eat honey (and literally everyone else), the Blackberry Honey stuff is also out of this world delicious. The giant swirls of wildflower honey get all grainy and crunchy in the freezer, it's SO GOOD. Burnt Sugar Vanilla is next on my Steve's ice cream bucket list.
posted by divined by radio at 8:11 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like me some serious eats, but Lucky Peach ran a column recently that covers quite a bit of the science behind different ratios and what different ingredients do for ice cream…I reference it to tweak our recipe quite a bit. Little changes make some drastically different results.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:13 AM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Ooh, and a byproduct which could be turned into a fun project for kids -

I've been mainlining the recipe book from Ample Hills because they're awesome. Anyway - for their strawberry ice cream, they recommended mixing the sliced strawberries with sugar and letting that sit overnight, then draining the sugary red water that you get as a result, pureeing the drained strawberries with the milk/cream mix and then churning. And it was delicious and well and good.

Now - they just say to discard that sugary water. But - it's not just sugar water, it is sugar water that is flavored with strawberry. So there are a couple ways you can save it and re-use it:

1. Use it as "strawberry sugar syrup", which will let you play around mixing drinks with it, or you can just use it for strawberry lemonade (1 cup lemon juice, half a cup of that strawberry sugar water, 3 cups of plain water - voila).

2. Make rock candy! There's a ton of "how to make rock candy" recipes on the web, but - basically you just make a super-saturated solution of sugar and water, then pour it into a jar and suspend a popsicle stick or something inside it and let the crystals grow. I used the strawberry sugar water as a base for the supersaturated solution (you do that by dumping it in a pot and gradually adding more and more sugar, about a half cup at a time, and stirring and stirring until literally no more sugar can dissolve inside the solution - you'll probably add about 2-3 cups more sugar in total) and followed a rock candy recipe; rather than just pure sugar, what I have is something subtly, but definitively, strawberry flavored.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

The ice cream I can't convince myself to not make (really: I try to start with an open mind, and then end up with this, because it would break my heart to not have it) is a variant on buttermilk ice cream.

As mind-bending as buttermilk is in ice cream, it is outright hallucinogenic when I start by caramelizing the sugar, brown to the edge of burnt, and then proceeding with the ice cream.

Don't say I didn't warn you.
posted by Dashy at 8:43 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

My partner adores mint anything, and we did mint chocolate chip ice cream with peppermint extract, which was fine, but then I started growing mint in the herb garden and using that in the milk/cream base (it takes a lot of time to extract), and the flavor is just amazing.
posted by xingcat at 8:44 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

The last link includes a reference to Savoy Coconut Cream, with a picture. This really is a great, key ingredient if you want to make a non-dairy ice cream. (I deal with lactose-intolerant acquaintances more than with vegan ones, but it should work for both.) I've posted a recipe to either the blue, or to ask, at some point.
posted by gimonca at 8:50 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

EmpressCallipygos--I have a one pint Donvier ice cream maker. What I do is make the base, which is usually for a one quart recipe, and keep it in the fridge using it for multiple pint batches. Fresh ice cream all the time!

The best flavor I've made is Concord Grape Sorbet. After a few days in the fridge, the base developed a wine-y flavor--so good! Also made a Concord Grape Gelato that was tasty too.
posted by auntie maim at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2015

For me, the king of homemade ice cream is Grape Nuts ice cream.
posted by slkinsey at 9:40 AM on July 9, 2015

the king of homemade ice cream is Grape Nuts ice cream

Shady Glen in CT has this, as well as an incomparable cheeseburger.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:47 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by poffin boffin at 9:48 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

wrt the vegan thing, I hissed angrily for years at the FALSE AND DECEITFUL frozen bananas as ice cream thing, but then recently had some that was really rich dark chocolate that was so chocolately that you can barely even taste a hint of the vile bananas, and now I am sold.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:50 AM on July 9, 2015

I must interrupt this post to ask something very important:

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on July 9, 2015

Modernist Cuisine has a great process for making vegan gelato out of pistachio or other nuts (slideshow here).
posted by slkinsey at 10:00 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've got a pint of banana curry ice cream in the freezer waiting for me when I get home from this recipe, which would probably be even better with coconut milk instead of regular.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:03 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

OMG, slkinsey, that recipe just skyrocketed up to my must-make-right-now list.
posted by Kitteh at 10:06 AM on July 9, 2015

I'm very rapidly approaching the point where I want you all to imagine that this is the movie version of TOMMY and I'm Ann-Margaret and these comments are baked beans.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2015

Last week I made this ice cream cake for my sister's birthday, and it's a lot of hassle, but dang if it didn't turn out super delicious.
posted by aubilenon at 11:56 AM on July 9, 2015

I tried the vegan banana ice cream night before last: no coconut, just frozen overripe bananas and some peanut butter. It starts out grainy and clumpy in the blender but if you keep going it churns up nice and creamy. Only added sugar was honey drizzled on it at the end, which became thick and chewy.

It was so good! And the best part was that I could gorge myself freely, because it's just bananas!

Already bought another bunch for the next batch. Going to try some spices or different nuts this time.
posted by postcommunism at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2015

Give someone an ice cream, and they'll enjoy it before it melts. Teach someone to make ice cream...

posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:44 PM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm having friends over for dinner this Friday, partly because my roommate is out of town and I don't have to worry about whether we're being intrusive - but also partly because it's an excuse to make ice cream and show off.

I've sent them a flavor list to choose from. I'm getting super into this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:38 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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