Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Homemade ice cream

Pure homemade vanilla and rhubarb deliciousness.
Although most people would probably find it a bit of a stretch to consider ice cream as one of life's essentials, it is undeniably a very, very nice treat.

Imagine, then, the nicest ice cream you've ever tasted: smooth of texture, rich in flavour, pure of ingredients, but small of cash outlay. Add to that the satisfaction of having made it yourself and you have a very compelling case for acquiring an ice cream maker. There are many to choose from. Consider your budget and read around some online reviews to help narrow the field.

Elderflower sorbet, for a change.
After toying with the idea now and then for years, our minds were made up when we tried a friend's homemade ice cream. It was a revelation. She has a very simple ice cream maker, with no moving parts (you use a hand blender to do the mixing), so we decided it was time to do the same.

We bought our ice cream maker second-hand on eBay, and it even came with a Ben & Jerry's recipe book, a very useful bonus. It was from that book I learned just how simple the ingredients of quality ice cream actually are (eggs, sugar, cream and milk) and, in fact, how straightforward the whole process is. Once you get a bit of a feel for it, branching out into adapted or altogether new recipes is a natural step.

Every flavour I make starts with almost exactly the same base mixture:

Base mixture

  • 2 large eggs: beat with a hand blender until they are very light and fluffy, pale yellow in colour.
  • ¾ cup (for coconut) to 1 cup (for chocolate) caster sugar, depending on the recipe: add gradually to the eggs, beating to dissolve.
This egg-sugar mix should be like a smooth and thick custard in texture by the time you are finished.
  • 1½ cups of double cream: blend this into the egg-sugar mix.
Next comes the individual flavour. I've developed my own recipes for seriously nice coconut ice cream and chocolate ice cream:

Nearly ready.

Coconut ice cream

  • 1 very heaped tablespoon of pure virgin coconut oil: melt this in a small pot on a very low heat.
  • Add to it 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut.
  • Keep back a little of the cream that would have gone into the base and add it to the coconut oil, whisking all together.
Once all that has had a bit of time to infuse, add it to the base mixture, whisking or blending vigorously as it goes in. Top up to 1 litre (1 generous quart) with milk. Chill the whole mixture in the fridge for a few hours and then follow the instructions for your ice cream maker.

Raw chocolate ice cream

Choc ice, ready for the freezer.
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter: melt in a small pot on a very low heat.
  • 1 tablespoon pure virgin coconut oil: add to the butter.
  • Gradually whisk in ½ cup of raw organic cacao powder.
  • Add a ¾ cup of hot milk, to thin the chocolate mixture down so it won't solidify as it cools to room temperature.
Let the chocolate mixture cool off a bit and then add it, plus 1 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract, to the base mixture, whisking or blending vigorously as it goes in. The volume should now be near 1 litre (one generous quart), but top up with milk as required. Chill and then run it through your ice cream maker.

Strawberry ice cream

Strawberry delight
This one is a special summer treat.
  • Sprinkle ¼ cup of sugar over 1 pint of freshly picked ripe strawberries and store them in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then blend this into a smooth puree, with a dash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Prepare the base mixture, as above, with ¾ cup sugar.
  • Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Add as much of the strawberry puree as it takes to make the total volume up to 1 litre.
Chill the mixture and then use your ice cream maker to transform it into the finest strawberry ice cream you've ever tasted.

Once you have an ice cream maker you can also easily branch out into sorbets, which are a great way of using up berries. Here's a couple of lovely seasonal sorbets to try for starters:


Elderflower sorbet

Once you have elderflower cordial, homemade or otherwise, turning it into sorbet is ridiculously easy:
  • Dilute 1:1 with cold water.
  • Chill, and into the ice cream maker with it.

Strawberry sorbet

  • Blend 4 cups of strawberries with 1 cup of sugar and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Chill, and put into the ice cream maker.
If these homemade treats don't astonish you, your family and friends, I will be very surprised.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more, homemade ice cream is a world apart from the shop- bought stuff and so satisfying to make (and eat!). I'm very frustrated here as we don't have room in the freezer for our maker at present, I need to rectify that as your raw chocolate recipe just has to be tried. It's great to have a garden of fruit, herbs and flowers to experiment with and it used to amuse me no end how things like gooseberries suddenly became a lot more interesting in our household when they had been transformed into ice cream! Cinnamon is a great winter flavour - fab on hot mince pies - but I think one of the best we ever made was honey 'straight from the hive' ice cream eaten with whimberry pie. Please keep your recipes coming . . . and I'll sort out a bigger freezer here. :-)


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