Homemade ice cream

Great dairy and parve alternatives to the store-bought favorite summer dessert.

Ice cream (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ice cream
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For many of us, ice cream is the favorite summer dessert. The premium brands, however, can be pricey. Homemade ice cream needs only a few ingredients and can be even more delicious.
Classic European ice creams, such as Italian gelato and French glace, are made from the same basic mixture – a cooked sweet custard of milk, cream, or a mixture of both, thickened with egg yolks. Making the custard requires a little practice, but once you learn how to do it, it’s quite easy and does not take long to prepare.
For the best vanilla ice cream, infuse vanilla beans in hot milk and use the milk to make the custard (see recipe). You can use the infusing technique with other flavorings too, including cinnamon sticks, coffee beans, tea or mint leaves, or strips of lemon or orange zest. Once the ice cream mixture has been partially frozen in an ice cream machine, you can add texture and vary the flavor by stirring in chocolate chips, toasted nuts, candied ginger, crumbled cookies or caramel.
For those who want delicious parve ice cream, there is good news. Today, with several alternatives to dairy milk available, parve ice cream can be wonderful.
At the latest Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California, we enjoyed all sorts of tasty non-dairy ice creams. San Francisco ice cream company Double Rainbow presented several soy ice creams, including caramel-swirled cinnamon and mint chocolate chip. Some of these frozen desserts, such as So Delicious’s chocolate and butter pecan ice creams, were made with almond milk. Coconut milk ice cream was a favorite of ours, whether plain or flavored with almonds and flaked chocolate. DF Mavens served dairy-free ice creams with gourmet flavorings; their products include Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream made from coconut milk, Alphonso mango coconut milk ice cream and Sicilian hazelnut truffle ice cream made with soy milk.
Flavorful parve ice creams are as easy to make at home as dairy ice creams. Just select your favorite milk. Coconut milk, soy milk and grain-based milks such as rice milk work fine in traditional ice cream recipes made with custard.
For an easier way to make parve ice creams, use an eggless formula favored by vegan cooks. Robin Robertson, author of Vegan Planet, makes her vanilla ice cream using a simple base of nondairy milk cooked with arrowroot, then sweetened and flavored with vanilla extract. To make fruit ice cream, she notes that you can substitute pureed fruit for part of the soy milk. From the same nondairy base, Robertson prepares double-chocolate ice cream (see recipe).
If you want to enjoy ice cream with a homemade taste but don’t feel like making it, you can prepare easy honey-almond ripple ice cream from packaged dairy or parve ice cream.
Marie Simmons explains how to do it in her new book, Taste of Honey (see recipe).
You just mix chopped toasted almonds with honey and swirl some of the mixture into vanilla ice cream.
After refreezing the ice cream, serve it topped with spoonfuls of more honey-almond mixture, and enjoy! The writer is the author of Fresh from France: Dessert Sensations and, in Hebrew, of Sefer Hakinuhim (the book of desserts), published by R. Sirkis.VANILLA-BEAN ICE CREAM
When you make the ice-cream base, patience is essential. If you cook the custard for too long, the egg yolks can coagulate and will look like bits of scrambled egg in a pot of milk.
To prevent this, use a heavy pan and stir the custard constantly while cooking it. To see whether the custard is cooked enough, check the temperature carefully with a thermometer or use the spoon test below to check the thickness. Once the custard is cooked, strain it immediately into a bowl so that it won’t curdle from sitting in the hot saucepan.
Although part of the appeal of homemade ice cream is its freshness, you can keep this ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer for 2 to 4 weeks. Serve it slightly softened.
Makes about 4½ cups, 4 to 6 servings
❖ 2 cups whole milk ❖ 2 cups heavy cream, whipping cream or additional milk ❖ 2 or 3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise ❖ 8 large egg yolks ❖ ¾ cup sugar
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla beans in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove vanilla beans.
Set a strainer in a large bowl.
Whisk egg yolks in another large bowl. Add sugar and whisk until blended. Return milk mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gradually ladle hot milk into yolk mixture, whisking.
Return mixture to saucepan. Cook it over medium-low heat, stirring it and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens slightly and reaches 74° to 77°C (165°F to 170°F ) on an instant-read or candy thermometer, about 7 minutes. Or, to check with a spoon, remove pan from heat, dip a metal spoon in the custard and draw your finger across its back; your finger should leave a clear path in the mixture clinging to the spoon. Immediately pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl and stir it for ½ minute.
To speed its cooling, you can set the bowl of custard inside a bowl of crushed ice. Cool it completely, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate custard for 1 or 2 hours.
Prepare ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Chill a medium- sized metal bowl in the freezer. Churn-freeze custard mixture in the machine until the ice cream is firm. Transfer it to the chilled bowl, cover tightly and put it in freezer. To serve it soft, freeze it about 1 hour; for firmer ice cream, freeze for 2 to 4 hours.DAIRY-FREE DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
This recipe is from Vegan Planet. Author Robin Robertson uses vegan chocolate and comments that real chocoholics may want to add extra chocolate chips or other bits of chocolate near the end of the freezing process. Chopped nuts make a good addition as well. You can substitute potato starch for the arrowroot.
Makes about 4 cups
❖ 4 cups soy milk or other dairy-free milk ❖ 2 Tbsp. arrowroot ❖ ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ❖ ¼ cup sugar or natural sweetener ❖ ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips ❖ 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of the soy milk and the arrowroot. Blend well and set aside.
Place the remaining 3 ¾ cups soy milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the arrowroot mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble, about 5 minutes. Do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Let the chips sit in the hot liquid for a few minutes before whisking to combine thoroughly. Stir in the vanilla and let cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate until chilled; then freeze in an ice cream-maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
This recipe is from Taste of Honey. Author Marie Simmons prefers a deep-flavored amber-hued honey that will stand up to the rich ice cream, such as sunflower honey with hints of vanilla or wildflower honey with hints of fennel.
Makes about 3 cups
❖ ½ cup whole almonds, skins on ❖ 1¾ cups honey ❖ 2 cups good-quality vanilla ice cream
Spread the almonds in a small baking dish and toast in the oven at 175°C (350°F) for 15 minutes.
Let cool and chop coarsely. Combine the almonds and honey in a 2-cup jar and set aside.
Scoop the ice cream into a bowl and break up with the side of a large spoon. Spoon about ½ cup of the honey and almonds on top and quickly fold once or twice to form honey-almond ripples in the ice cream. Quickly repack into the ice-cream carton and freeze until firm.
To serve, scoop the ice cream into bowls and top with spoonfuls of the remaining honey-almond mixture.