ice cream comprehensive

Last week a NY Times article popped into my inbox. “The only ice cream recipe you’ll ever need,” it said, so naturally, I clicked. 

Turned out Melissa Clark was the one making the bold claim.

Now I like Melissa. Melissa knows her stuff. But a quick scan of the ingredient list revealed that Melissa doesn’t know everything. Her best ice cream recipe had eggs, lots of eggs, and — controversial statement incoming —  I don’t like ice cream with eggs in it. Raw eggs, maybe, but cooked eggs? Nope. I don’t like how they leave the tongue and roof of the mouth coated with a silky, cloying sheen of protein and fat. 

Not that I have any proof of this. It’s just how I feel

Also, there is no way a homemade ice cream made with real farm cream and real farm eggs would EVER be as white as the NY Times photo of Melissa’s ice cream. Not that they were claiming to use anything but insipid store eggs, but still. If I made her ice cream, it would look more like frozen orange juice than vanilla ice cream. 

So anyway. Melissa, if you’re reading this, listen up: My vanilla ice cream is the only one you’ll ever need and therefore, I heretofore challenge you, you wondrous dear kitchen goddess of a chef you, to an ice cream duel using farm-fresh cream (and eggs, if you must). Let’s do it proper-like, with a rollicking, friendly churn-off. I bet you five bucks I’ll win.

My recipe is no secret, and it’s not even actually my recipe: it’s Jeni’s of Jeni’s ice cream fame, and I’ve been making it for years. In fact, I’ve made it so much recently that I scribbled the ingredient list, quadrupled, on a piece of scrap paper and taped it to the inside of my spice cupboard.

Why, you ask, have we been eating an ungodly amount of ice cream? Because:

  1. We are milking three cows. 
  3. It’s delicious.

It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that I’ve turned into an ice cream pusher, tossing random containers at my son sometimes even right after breakfast, and begging him to please finish them off. Or he’ll come into the kitchen complaining that he’s hungry and ask to make popcorn or a sandwich and I’m like, No, but how about some ice cream? Here’s a quart. Eat the whole thing.

Anyway, a quadruple recipe makes a gallon of base which I then store in the fridge.

Every morning and night for two days straight, I churn up a new batch of ice cream: mint chip, cookies and cream, berry crunch, vanilla bean, etc, a schedule which allows the ice cream canister to refreeze between churning sessions. Aside from the wait between churnings, my little ice cream maker had issues with the outside edges freezing faster than the rest of the ice cream and required a bit of side-scraping mid mix. Plus, it only made a quart at a time which made prepping for a crowd a bit cumbersome.

But then Reason 4 happened: friends gifted us an electric ice cream churn (Ebay: most similar, Amazon: kinda similar) and I about vaulted out of my skin with glee.

This new ice cream churn makes a full gallon of ice cream at a time, uniformly freezes it from top to bottom and inside out, and is entirely hands-off (aside from periodically adding more ice as it melts down). I set it on the deck, plug it in, and then walk away and about 45 minutes later it stops. I then divide the ice cream into different containers, swirling in whatever fruit sauces, chocolates, and ripples my little heart desires.

Newsflash: Feeding a crowd is no longer a problem.


A few things to note about add-ins…

Chocolate pieces
Do not add chocolate chips. I repeat, do NOT. That’s a rookie mistake. Chips are like waxy rocks when frozen. Instead, melt a cup of chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over a double boiler. When smooth, spread the chocolate in a thin layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Refrigerate for a couple hours and then, working quickly (it melts fast), peel up the sheet of chocolate and chop it into small shards.

Store the chocolate flakes in the fridge or freezer and sprinkle/swirl them into ice cream for a perfectly textured bite of chocolate.

Underbake a pan of brownies — this is my go-to recipe —  and then crumble or chop them into small pieces and store them in the freezer. Layer/swirl these into the ice cream or, alternatively, use them as an ice cream topping. However, I think they taste better, more a part of the ice cream whole, when mixed in with the ice cream and then frozen together.

Peanut Butter
I’ve tried different peanut butter swirl recipes but the best one so far is just plain creamy peanut butter heated in the microwave until melty and then drizzled into the ice cream. It’s still not quite as good as the peanut butter in Turkey Hill’s peanut butter swirl though, so if anyone is sitting on the perfect copy-cat recipe, tell me.

Marshmallow minis get chewy and hard in the ice cream — not great — so I tried fluffernutter.

peanut butter and fluffernutter

It was pretty sweet but the marshmallow cream worked much, much better. 

Oat Crunchies
This recipe. So good. The end.

I haven’t tried this yet but I’m thinking some chopped up homemade cheesecake sprinkled throughout might be kinda awesome. But would the texture get weird in the freezer?

I haven’t added any recently — I don’t have any on hand — but I’m on the lookout for smoked almonds and honey roasted peanuts. I think they’d be a lovely addition to a Rocky Road sorta situation.

Do not add these to the ice cream while mixing; the crumbs turn the ice cream an unappealing grayish color. Instead, chop, sprinkle, and then swirl into the finished ice cream.

Butterfingers, Snickers, toffee, peanut butter cups, chocolate-covered pretzels, etc, etc, etc: chop ‘em up and swirl ‘em in!

Fruit Sauce
I’m still not fully satisfied with my standard fruit sauce. Despite cooking it, adding gelatin, and thickening it a bit with cornstarch, it still gets icy. There’s gotta be some unpronounceable chemical that ice cream companies add to their ice creams to eliminate the icy factor, but I just don’t know what it is.


The Final Word: A Cautionary Tale
When serving ice cream with lots of yummy add-ins, it must — I repeat, MUST — be fully frozen.

Saturday, I made a big batch to take to a family gathering. I layered and swirled the ice cream with homemade brownie chunks, warmed peanut butter drizzle, chocolate shavings, and chopped oreos and then popped it in the deep freeze until the evening’s cookout.

I thought for sure the few hours in the freezer would be sufficient time to let it firm up, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. When I went to scoop it into cones, it was still slumpy soft.

a barely passable scoop: it’s hard to see in this photo just how soupy the ice cream is

The ice cream I’d so looked forward to felt disjointed; the base was unable to support the chewy brownies and creamy peanut butter which gave the ice cream a weird mouth-feel. I was crushed.

The next day, the leftover ice cream had firmed up all the way through and was a TOTALLY different gustatory experience and much more satisfying to eat.

So take note. Don’t make my mistake.

And one more thing: when ice cream is super cold, it may get crumbly. Set it in the fridge for 25 minutes prior to serving, or wrestle it into balls and then let them sit for a few minutes at room temp before digging in. Allowing the ice cream to soften ever so slightly elevates the eating experience exponentially. Trust me.

This same time, years previous: buttermilk sugar biscuits, strawberry rhubarb pie, the butter conundrum, sugar-crusted popovers, the coronavirus diaries: week twelve, stuffed poblanos, the quotidian (5.28.18), a few fun things, butter chicken, an evening together.


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