Homemade Ice Cream, Many Ways
Classic vanilla ice cream usually calls for a custard base. I like this version better. Not only does cornstarch achieve the same velvety texture that you get from a custard, but the vanilla (or other flavors; see below) shines through even more without the egg.
Makes: About 1 quart
Time: About 30 minutes, plus time to chill and churn
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the half- and-half to make a smooth slurry.
2. Put the remaining half-and-half, the cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture nearly comes to a simmer. Whisk in the slurry and vanilla and continue to cook, whisking frequently until the mixture thickens a bit, 2 or 3 minutes.
3. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is completely cool, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.
THE THREE STAGES OF ICE CREAM FLAVORING
Since ice cream is just a liquid that you chill and churn, it’s easy to add flavors and textures. (Go to an ice cream shop and it can seem like there are more flavors than days in the year.) There are three different ways to add flavor, depending on what you’re adding:
1. Infuse the Milk Or Cream
Helpful because it doesn’t change the body of the ice cream; best with a spice (think vanilla!), herb, tea, or other highly aromatic ingredient. Heat the cream to simmering; add the flavoring ingredient loose, in a tea ball, or wrapped in cheesecloth; let it sit off the heat for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the ingredient and how strong you want the flavor to be; then strain.
2. Add To The Base
Do this with liquids like melted chocolate, fruit purées, and booze or other ingredients that add flavor but don’t need to be strained, like ground spices. Stir into the finished base before you chill it.
3. Swirl Into The Ice Cream
Use with ingredients that you want to remain somewhat distinct rather than completely incorporated. When the ice cream is the consistency you want, slowly add these ingredients with the machine running; churn for just a couple
of seconds, stopping before they’re fully incorporated. This is great when you want each bite to be slightly different, with a patch of chocolate chips or a ribbon of caramel or fruit, or if you want the ingredient to stay somewhat crunchy, like nuts or crumbled cookies.
MORE ICE CREAM FLAVORS
The base ratio always remains the same: 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 cups total liquid; only the type of liquid, the flavorings (substituted for the vanilla), and the sweetener change.
Chocolate Ice Cream
Flavorings: 5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
How To Add: Add to the ice cream base with the half-and-half and cream.
Strawberry (or Any Berry) Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 cup berry purée, strained
How To Add: Stir into the ice cream base before chilling.
Coffee Ice Cream
Flavorings: 2 to 3 shots freshly brewed espresso or 1/2 cup ground coffee
How To Add: Swap liquid coffee for 1/2 cup of the half-and-half or steep ground coffee in the hot base
Coconut Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 cup coconut milk; 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted in a dry skillet until lightly browned if you like
How To Add: Replace the cream with the coconut milk and fold the coconut into the ice cream base before chilling.
Spice Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, black pepper, and coriander, plus 2 vanilla beans; or use 1 tablespoon single spice, like cinnamon or cardamom
How To Add: Split open the vanilla beans and steep in the hot ice cream base; stir ground spices directly into the base before chilling.
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 cup canned pumpkin purée; 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and ginger
How To Add: Whisk 1 cup of the hot ice cream base with the pumpkin to thin it, then add it to the base with the spices before chilling.
Rum-Raisin Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins; 1/4 cup dark rum; 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
How To Add: Soak the raisins in the rum at room temperature for an hour or so, or bring to a boil and set aside to cool. Use the brown sugar in place of granulated. Add the rum- raisin mixture to the ice cream base for the last minute or 2 of cooking, before chilling.
Maple-Nut Ice Cream
Flavorings: 3/4 cup maple syrup; 1 cup chopped lightly toasted nuts, like pecans or walnuts
How To Add: Swap the sugar for the maple syrup and add the nuts to the base before chilling.
Buttermilk Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 cup buttermilk
How To Add: Use the buttermilk instead of cream.
Mascarpone Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 cup mascarpone cheese
How To Add: Use mascarpone instead of cream.
Banana Ice Cream
Flavorings: 2 ripe bananas
How To Add: Peel and steep the bananas in the hot ice cream base, then strain them out before chilling the base.
Ginger Ice Cream
Flavorings: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger; 1/2 cup minced candied ginger
How To Add: Steep the fresh ginger in the hot ice cream base, then strain it out and stir in the candied ginger before chilling.
Green Tea Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 tablespoon matcha green tea or 2 tablespoons leaf green tea
How To Add: Stir the matcha into the base before chilling or infuse the hot ice cream base with leaf green tea.
Corn-Maple Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1/2 cup maple syrup; 2 ears corn, plus more if you like
How To Add: Use the maple syrup in place of sugar. Cut the kernels from the corn, purée, and strain, then add the liquid with the cobs to the ice cream base with the half-and-half and cream. Strain and discard the cobs from the finished ice cream base; if you like, stir in more whole corn kernels before chilling.
Avocado Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1 large avocado puréed with the juice of a lime
How To Add: Whisk the avocado with a bit of the hot ice cream base until smooth, then stir it into the bowl before chilling.
Miso-Peach Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar;
2 peaches (or nectarines), peeled and puréed to make about 1 cup, whisked with 1 tablespoon white miso
How To Add: Use brown sugar instead of white. Add the peach mixture to the ice cream base before chilling.
Bacon-Bourbon-Maple-Pecan Ice Cream
Flavorings: 3/4 cup maple syrup; 2 tablespoons bourbon; 4 strips chopped cooked bacon, the rendered bacon fat, and 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
How To Add: Use the maple syrup instead of sugar. Whisk the bourbon into the ice cream base in the last minute or 2 of cooking, then fold in the bacon, fat, and pecans before chilling.
Olive Oil Ice Cream
Flavorings: 1/3 cup olive oil
How To Add: Whisk the olive oil into the base before chilling.