The first time I made ice cream from scratch was thirty years ago. It was with one of those old fashioned salt crank makers and when I tasted the fruit of our (what felt like five hours) labor, I had one thought: Not worth it.
Then five years ago I was flipping through a Williams Sonoma catalog when it came to my attention that ice cream makers had moved into the 21st century. There on the page was the most darling Cuisinart blue ice cream maker. It arrived in time for Mother’s Day and I’ve been making my own ice cream ever since.
First, we try not to keep dessert in the house. Ever. Because I’ll eat it.
Secondly, we’re more of a baked goods kind of family.
Thirdly, it’s not in mine or Shea’s family of origin to have cake AND ice cream. It was always one or the other.
But I do tend to make ice cream in June and July, as an alternative way to scratch my baking itch when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. I use the basic recipe, no custard making required, and in 20 minutes I can serve up homemade, creamy, safe (if not healthy, lol) and organic dessert.
All it takes is milk (I use fat free), heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. My ice cream maker has a center cylinder insert that I store in the freezer at all times. Pop it in the maker, pour in the base and turn it on—that’s all it takes.
I have tried to make lower fat and sugar versions using just milk and no cream. No bueno. What comes out is the consistency of slushy milk which then freezes into a giant ice cube. So I stick to the heavy cream. I halve the sugar if I am adding fruit—we barely notice that it’s less sweet because of the richness of the cream and the vanilla flavor. And we actually eat the correct serving size—half cup—because since it tastes the way it’s supposed to, you don’t need as much to make your sweet tooth happy.
Recipe (courtesy Cuisinart)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla (for vanilla flavored ice cream) AND/OR
1 cup macerated, mashed fruit of your choice AND/OR
Really, once you have the base, you can do whatever you want to it.
Whisk milk and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add cream and vanilla. Whisk until mixture becomes nice and frothy. Refrigerate for two hours. Then pour the base into the maker and process for 20-25 minutes. Add any other ingredients in the last five minutes.
There are ice cream makers out there that cost $300, but I don’t know why. The Cuisinart costs $60, and I also found a Hamilton Beach option at Target for under $30. That’s roughly the same as six half gallons of regular ice cream.
I have learned not to store the leftovers in the cylinder or Tupperware. A glass bowl with an airtight lid keeps the ice cream from getting too hard or crystallizing.
If I’m adding fruit, I chop it, macerate it, mash it and then throw it in the last five minutes. If the chunks are too big, they get caught in the stirring thingy, causing the ice cream to back up and overflow.
There are lots of ice cream recipes out there, including in the booklet that comes with the machine. But some of them require a custard, and I’m not having that. The easy recipe is just fine.
And when I want to be crazy, I suffer the heat, bake up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and make my own ice cream sandwiches. I plop a scoop of newly made ice cream on completely cooled cookies, wrap it all in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer. Two hours later, yummy summer goodness.