No food encapsulates the feeling of summer more than ice cream. Whether you’re enjoying a cone after an afternoon at the beach, hosting a make-your-own sundae party, or celebrating a warm-weather birthday with an ice cream cake, the dog days of summer are always more fun with this creamy confection.
Ice Cream and Co.
Ice cream has come a long way since the first American ice cream parlor opened in New York City in 1776. Over two hundred years later, a mind-boggling array of frozen treats is available on the market. Here’s a quick primer for the novice ice cream chef:
- Ice Cream–made primarily of cream, milk, and sugar with added flavors
- Glace–also known as French-style ice cream, glace is made with a rich custard base that includes egg yolks
- Gelato–Italy’s version of ice cream, gelato contains less air, so is denser and more flavorful than “American” ice cream
- Sorbet–fruit purees (and sometimes herbs or spices) provide the flavor in this dairy-free dessert
- Granita–also fruit-based, granitas are crunchier than sorbets because they are not whipped
Make Your Own Ice Cream: A Beginner’s Guide
While most people depend on Ben & Jerry or Baskin Robbins to keep their freezer stocked, after one taste of homemade ice cream there’s no going back to the store-bought stuff. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t even need a special machine to make your own ice cream. Gather the following supplies and ingredients to get started. Typically, these include:
- The recipe of your choice
- A freezer-safe bowl
- An electric mixer or whisk
- Fresh cream and milk (now’s the time to make friends with your local dairy farmer!)
- Flavor (vanilla bean, berries, chocolate)
After you’ve prepared the base for your homemade ice cream, (and allowed it to cool to room temperature), put it in a bowl and then into the freezer. After 45 minutes mix thoroughly to break up any ice crystals (and burn some extra calories before your ice cream feast). Return the bowl to the freezer, taking it out to beat every half-hour. Depending on your freezer temperature and how hard you like your ice cream, you should have a memorable dessert in 2-3 hours.
A Few Tips
It’s hard to imagine having any leftover homemade ice cream, but if you do, transfer it to an airtight container and store in the freezer. Because the homemade stuff contains no preservatives, you should enjoy it within a week. If it gets grainy in storage, let it soften in the fridge for 10-20 minutes and then beat before serving.
Let’s face it–there’s no wrong way to serve homemade ice cream, sorbet, or gelato. However, if you want to make an extra-special dessert, consider these ideas:
- Make crepes or waffles topped with fresh strawberry ice cream and fruit
- Layer dark chocolate ice cream with toasted coconut flakes, slivered almonds, and bittersweet chocolate sauce in parfait glasses
- Put vanilla ice cream between two oatmeal raisin (or chocolate chip) cookies, insert a popsicle stick, and dip in dark chocolate for your own version of a classic ice cream sandwich.
- Dip a few small balloons in dark chocolate sauce and freeze to create edible bowls for your homemade ice cream, gelato, or sorbet.
No matter how you scoop it, this is the perfect time to become an ice cream expert. Start with a simple flavor and once you’ve mastered the art of making ice cream, let your imagination run wild. There’s no end to the flavor combinations you can try and you should have no trouble finding willing taste-testers to sample your creations.
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