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cream recipes just the way you like them.
Unlike a lot of other desserts, ice cream isn’t one of the
fussy ones. You start by making a basic custard and then you can steer off in
many delicious directions to flavor your ice cream any way you like it.
There are several ways to flavor your ice cream along the way. First, you might
infuse flavor (tea, fresh ginger, coffee are a few options) into the custard.
After that, you can make additions to the cooked custard, including chocolate,
berries, and liqueur. Finally, after your ice cream is churned, you can mix in
any variety of ingredients, from bite-size bits of candy to chunks of cake or
brownies. Try using any of the suggestions, or be creative and make up your own
flavors. Don’t laugh, but once I even put bacon in a batch—it was a surprise
Yields about 1 quart
Warm and (maybe)
infuse the cream
In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup heavy cream with 1 cup whole
milk, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and a pinch of table salt. Warm the cream
mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves
and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
To infuse a flavor (optional), stir in your infusion ingredient (see choices
below). Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit
longer if you want a stronger flavor. If not infusing, proceed with the next
Choose one or two
infusion ingredients (optional)
Vanilla: 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
out (use both the bean and seeds)
Lemon: Finely grated zest of 4 medium lemons
Tea: 1/4 cup loose black tea leaves, such as jasmine, Earl
Grey, or English breakfast
Orange: Finely grated zest of 4 medium oranges
Lavender: 2 Tbs. dried
Coffee: 1-1/2 cups coarsely crushed medium-roast coffee
beans (seal the beans in a large zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin or
Fresh herbs (basil, mint): 1 cup tightly packed, coarsely
Toasted nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts,
etc.): 1-1/2 cups coarsely crushed
Ginger: 1/2 cup peeled, thinly sliced fresh ginger
Pepper: 1 Tbs. black peppercorns, very coarsely ground
Cinnamon: Two 3- to 4-inch sticks (broken into large pieces)
Make the custard
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several
inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2
quarts) in the ice water. Pour another 1 cup heavy cream into the inner bowl
(this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine
strainer on top. Whisk 5 large egg yolks in a medium bowl.
If you have infused the cream mixture, re-warm it over medium-high heat until
tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a
steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking
constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring
constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof cooking spoon or rubber
spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat
the utensil and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An
instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the
sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle.
Strain and flavor the custard
Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the
ice bath. If using an infusion ingredient, press firmly in the strainer with
the spoon or spatula to extract as much flavor as possible. If you want to add melted
chocolate and cocoa (see below), do so now.
Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. To add a
flavor other than chocolate (see options below), stir it into the cooled
Choose one or two custard flavorings (optional)
Peaches: 1-1/2 lb. fresh (or 1 lb. frozen), peeled, pitted,
cooked to soften, and puréed
Mascarpone: 1 cup
Raspberry: 12 oz. fresh or frozen, puréed, strained, and
mixed with 1/3 cup sugar
Vanilla: 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Olive oil: 1/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Chocolate: 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cacao),
chopped and melted, plus 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa (Add to custard
immediately after straining)
Lemon: 1/4 cup strained fresh lemon juice
Orange: 3/4 cup strained fresh orange juice
Liqueur/liquor: 3 to 4 Tbs. Grand Marnier, Cognac, Baileys,
Frangelico, Kahlúa, amaretto, Armagnac, whiskey, rum, etc.
Strawberry: 1 lb. fresh or frozen, puréed, strained, and
mixed with 1/2 cup sugar
Passionfruit: 1/4 cup passionfruit concentrate
Chill and freeze the custard
Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4
hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the
manufacturer’s instructions. If using mix-ins (see options below), fold them
into the just-churned ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to an air-tight
container and freeze solid for at least 4 hours before serving.
Choose up to three mix-ins for a total of up to
1 cup (optional)
Chocolate-covered coffee beans
Dried fruit (raisins, prunes, etc.), soaked in warm liqueur,
liquor, or water until plumped
Crushed candy bars
Jam or marmalade
Chopped crystallized ginger (max 1/2 cup)
Chopped chocolate (max 6 Tbs.)
Chunks of gingerbread, pound cake, brownies, or quick breads
Crushed peppermint candy or peppermint patties
Toasted nuts, chopped if large
Ice Cream Tips
Some flavors can be
both infused and added. To double the flavor of citrus ice cream, for
example, start by infusing the cream mixture with zest and add fresh juice to
the custard. And for a stronger hit of vanilla, add extract to custard already
infused with vanilla bean.
How to swirl
To swirl an ingredient like jam or Nutella into ice cream, let the swirling
ingredient come to room temperature first. With a spoon, drop it in small
dollops between layers of just-churned ice cream as you remove it from the
machine. Gently drag a spatula to swirl the ingredient as best you can; to keep
the swirls distinct, avoid vigorous stirring.
Fresh fruit rule
Resist the temptation to mix whole fresh berries or other fresh fruit
chunks into your ice cream. Because they have a high water content, they’re
likely to freeze into hard, icy chunks.
How long to freeze
You can store ice cream in the freezer for up to two weeks; however,
because homemade ice cream doesn’t have any stabilizers, it’s best eaten within
a couple of days of making it.
No machine, no problem
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the custard in a bowl
in the freezer. Check after about an hour; once it starts freezing, blitz
through it with a hand-held electric mixer and then return it to the freezer.
Repeat every so often as the mixture is freezing, until the ice cream is
completely whipped and frozen.