Saturday, October 8, 2016

New Ice Cream Bases

Cook's Science

There's a new online publication from Cook's Illustrated called Cook's Science, and they did a special article on ice cream. It's worth reading if you're interested in ice cream. They included some recipes adapted for home equipment and they looked pretty good, so I gave their vanilla a try.

This was a pretty easy one to make (no eggs so no tempering) and didn't require anything not available from a supermarket. I did add 0.5% commercial ice cream stabilizer (Cremodan) to my mix.

The verdict? Excellent! One of the best homemade ice creams I've ever had. The texture is dry and slightly chewy like a good store-bought pint. Not icy at all, not greasy. And because it has no eggs it just tastes of cream and vanilla.

It does freeze pretty hard and needs a little rest out of the freezer before scooping. That's almost impossible to avoid without using multiple sugars (e.g. dextrose), so I assume they were trying to keep it simple. If I make this again I might use a mix of sucrose and dextrose.

If you make the recipe, I recommend you get the best, freshest powdered milk available. The kind that comes in foil packets stays fresh. The kind that comes in a big box tastes stale very quickly.

Salt & Straw

I also came across some recipes from Salt & Straw, the famous Portland, OR ice cream store, published in Lucky Peach. They included a base recipe so I tried that and made a vanilla to compare.

If anything this was an even simpler recipe. It uses evaporated milk to get a thick consistency rather than milk powder. It also uses no eggs.

Unfortunately, while this one had great flavor, it turned out quite icy. Even the mix seemed thinner and more watery, so I'm not surprised. It needed something to tie up some of the water in the milk. It also has a quick meltdown, despite my using the same amount of ice cream stabilizer, and a bit of a greasy mouthfeel from the evaporated milk. So, I won't bother making this one again.

I haven't had a chance to try Salt & Straw at their store, but I'm sure this is not the recipe they use. This is just a home ice cream recipe created by them.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Raspberry Sorbet

A little departure from ice cream.  I've been discovering new sources of professional recipes for ice creams and sorbets, and I thought I'd try a couple of raspberry sorbets to see how different they were from the Cook's Illustrated one I made over the summer.

The big difference is really in the sugars.  These recipes use a combination of regular table sugar with dextrose and invert sugar aka trimoline, which is a syrup you can make yourself by boiling table sugar and water with a little cream of tartar.  It's like a better version of corn syrup with similar benefits for ice cream and sorbet.  I'll talk more about these in a future blog post, but the basic idea is that they both lower the freezing point of the mixture more than table sugar does, and dextrose is less sweet-tasting than table sugar, so you can use more of it.  This allows you to make a frozen dessert that stays soft and scoopable in the freezer.

That was really my only complaint about the Cook's Illustrated sorbet: it was hard as a rock, and needed to be left out to thaw for quite a while before you could scoop it.  Thawing it and re-freezing like that also added to the ice crystals, which mess up the texture.  Cook's also differed from the pro recipes by calling for pectin rather than commercial sorbet stabilizer, which is mostly gelatin.  Gelatin works great in sorbet, but I want to be able to make sorbet for my vegan friends, so pectin is very convenient for my purposes.

My first try here was with a recipe by Angelo Corvitto, the Italian ice cream god.  You can read what he says about sugar on his website.  I really liked his recipe, but I forgot to strain the seeds.  I don't like the seeds in it, although some of my tasters did.  It took a long time for this one to freeze, but that's the point of the dextrose.  I also used too much pectin on this try, so I halved it the next time.

My second try was a Michael Laiskonis recipe.  This one was very good as well, but a little too dense for my taste.  That's the one that these pictures are from.  It's possible I was off a bit because his recipe called for commercially prepared raspberry puree which I substituted with 90% frozen raspberries and 10% additional sugar.

Here's an adjusted version of the Corvitto recipe.  You can get dextrose (sometimes called glucose powder) at home brewing suppliers, natural food stores, or Kalustyan's.

Raspberry Sorbet Recipe

You need Sure-Jell Pectin for Low or No Sugar Recipes, in the pink box.  If you can't find that and you don't care about being vegan, you can use the same amount of gelatin instead.


  • 300g water
  • 128g dextrose
  • 79g sugar
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) Sure-Jell low-sugar pectin
  • 340g raspberries


  1. Mix the water and the dextrose and then heat to 104F.
  2. Add the pectin mixed with the sugar.
  3. Heat, stirring occasionally, to 185F.
  4. Remove from heat, cool to 104F, and then blend with frozen raspberries.
  5. Strain seeds!
  6. Refrigerate until fully cold, preferably overnight.
  7. Freeze in an ice cream maker, stopping when it reaches the texture of a thick smoothie.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet

My friend Suzanne hooked me up with some Meyer lemons, so I tried making a Sherbet with some buttermilk left over from my Meyer lemon bundt cake.  I started with a David Leibovitz recipe, but as usual I think he sacrifices some things in the name of simplicity.  His recipe came out bland and hard as a rock.  I melted it down and added corn syrup and some ice cream stabilizer to help fix the iciness, and more lemon juice to boost the flavor.  To be fair, he used regular lemons, not Meyers, so maybe he didn't need as much juice.

Mine still comes out crumbly.  I think it needs more solids, meaning either I could play with the types of sugar (pro sorbet recipes often use a powder made from dried sugar syrup known as atomized glucose) or add some powdered milk.  Powdered milk might wash out the tangy flavor though, which is really nice right now.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet Recipe


  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup juice and zest from 2-3 Meyer lemons
  • 86g sugar
  • 86g corn syrup
  • 1 tsp ice cream stabilizer (or you could use low-sugar pectin or gelatin, etc.)


  1. Heat buttermilk and corn syrup together to 104 F.
  2. Add stabilizer mixed with sugar, whisking vigorously.  Heat to 185 F.
  3. Remove from heat, transfer to ziploc bag, chill in ice bath until cool.
  4. Rest overnight in fridge.
  5. Add to ice cream maker and pour in lemon juice and zest after.
  6. Do not over-churn.  This is more like a sorbet than an ice cream, so it should be stopped on the early side, well before it gets fluffy.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bulleit Rye Ice Cream

Because the bourbon ice cream came out so well, I had a request for more.  Of course I can't leave well enough alone, so I tried it with rye this time instead.  It's similar, but I miss some of the smoky vanilla from the Woodford Reserve bourbon that I used before.

In this one, I used different stabilizers from last time.  I think I actually went too far with it because this ice cream is very soft, like beyond soft-serve.  The combination of the alcohol and the stabilizers have lowered the freezing point to beyond what our freezer is capable of firming up.  I think this could be fixed just by cutting back on the xanthan gum, but it could also be due to a different alcohol content in the rye.  People who get serious about their ice cream chemistry seem to control the hardness by varying the types of sugar between dextrose, sucrose (white table sugar) and glucose or inverted sugar syrup.  I'm not very familiar with all of those options yet, relying on some basic corn syrup to prevent ice crystals and keep things smooth.  (Possibly too smooth?  People always complain about icy homemade ice cream but this has never happened to me when using corn syrup.  I might dial it back a bit to get the ice cream to feel colder and drier.)

I also did something the recipes all tell you never to do, which is put the hot ice cream base straight into the machine to freeze.  Resting the base overnight in the fridge is preferable, since it gives it a chance to thicken.  This also makes it take longer to churn, although I still didn't get any ice crystals, which is the big danger there.

BTW, I've been experimenting with different thickeners and have found that arrowroot seems to be add less flavor and color than cornstarch, so I've switched to it now.  There are warn not to use arrowroot with dairy because it will get "slimy", but I haven't seen any evidence of this.  My best guess is that it's an issue with the butterfat in full-fat dairy and not with the low-fat stuff I'm using.  Or else The Internet is just wrong.

Here's the recipe for this one:

Bulleit Rye Ice Cream Recipe

NOTES: This came out too soft.  I think that cutting back on the xanthan gum and maybe replacing some corn syrup with sugar.


  • 3 cups fat free half and half
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup rye
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum


  1. Mix about 1/4 cup half-and-half with arrowroot, gums, and salt in a small bowl to make a slurry.
  2. Put half-and-half, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil and then allow to boil for 4 minutes.
  3. Lower heat, add slurry, and whisk vigorously to combine.
  4. Heat, whisking frequently, until it thickens up.
  5. Optionally, blend in a blender to disperse gums well.  Be careful about blending hot liquids!
  6. What you should do at this point is let it cool overnight in the fridge, even though I didn't do that.
  7. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

This may be the simplest recipe for ice cream I've made, and yet it was one of the most successful.  It's based on a recipe from The Perfect Scoop, with the amounts adjusted to match the size of the condesnsed milk can I had, and a little xanthan gum added.  The condensed milk might do such a good job on its own of supressing ice crystals that the xanthan gum is superfluous in this recipe.  It's soft and scoopable straight out of the freezer.

I let the mix churn for a full 45 minutes because I'm trying to increase overrun, but it didn't seem to matter.  The ice cream is dense and kind of "wet" (is that what they mean by "soggy" in ice cream science books?), and the meltdown is too quick and too liquid.  It needs more emulsifier so it can hold more air.  I did like the chewiness of it though.  Also, even though it's delicious, I think the flavor is too intense.  I'd increase the proportion of half and half next time.

Vietnamese Ice Cream Recipe


  • 1 cup fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup strong coffee or espresso (I used my Aeropress)
  • 1/3 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum


  1. Mix everything in a blender.
  2. Put in the refrigerator to sit overnight.
  3. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mint Stracciatella (Chocolate Chip)

After a bad experience with large chocolate chips in a mint chocolate chip batch, I tried making one with fudge ripple instead.  However, the David Lebovitz fudge ripple recipe is not very good and no one liked it much in the ice cream.  So, I decided to try a different tactic and do what Italian gelato makers call stracciatella, where you drip melted chocolate into the nearly frozen ice cream while the machine is running.  This worked out great!  Lots of little chocolate bits in every bite, and no big frozen chunks to break your teeth on.  I think I will always do chocolate chip this way from now on.

Also, since things taste mintier when they're green, I added a few drops of green food coloring.  Beautiful!

Mint Stracciatella Recipe


  • 3 cups low fat half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps cornstarch
  • 4 tbsps (2 oz) cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • big bunch of mint leaves, washed (you can leave them on the stems)
  • a few drops of green food coloring
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate


  1. Put cream cheese and salt in a larger bowl and set it aside to soften up.
  2. Mix about 1/4 cup half-and-half with cornstarch in a small bowl until fully dissolved.  Set aside.
  3. Whisk remaining half-and-half, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil and then allow to boil for 4 minutes.
  4. Add mint and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 30 minutes.
  5. Strain to remove mint and then return to pot.
  6. Add cornstarch slurry while whisking.  Heat, whisking frequently, until it boils.  Mixture should thicken up.
  7. Add xanthan gum while whisking.
  8. Pour mixture over cream cheese and whisk to combine. Whisk in food coloring. At this point, if there are lumps, you should put it in a blender and make it smooth.
  9. Pour mixture into a ziploc freezer bag and cool in an ice bath, or put in the refrigerator to sit overnight.
  10. Freeze in an ice cream maker. While ice cream is freezing, melt chocolate, either in a microwave or in a metal bowl over a simmering pot of water. When ice cream is nearly done, drip melted chocolate slowly into the running ice cream maker. Let it run for another minute to freeze and break up the chocolate.

              Saturday, August 17, 2013

              New Equipment!

              Thanks to my ice-cream-loving Grandpa, I have inherited a new ice cream maker.  It's a beauty: an Il Gelataio, self-refrigerated, with a removable bowl that can go in the dishwasher!  Totally revolutionary.

              I decided to test it out with a sorbet.  I started with the Cook's Illustrated recipe, but since I couldn't find Sure Jell low sugar pectin anywhere in my neighborhood (Why does New York City have the worst grocery stores on earth?), I tried using some xanthan gum instead.  Without this, it tends to freeze rock hard and melt too quickly.  I tried 1/8 tsp, then 1/4 tsp, and am currently thinking it needs a full 1/2 tsp to work well.  A tsp of alcohol provides a similar result, but that flavor isn't right for all sorbets.

              The other tricky thing is that you need to not churn it too much.  Unlike ice cream, more overrun is not good here.  It just makes the sorbet hard and crumbly.  I don't think I have this right yet.  The last time I only churned it for 10 minutes and it still seemed to go past the ideal stage, which is like a barely pourable smoothie.

              Raspberry Sorbet Recipe


              • 1 1/4 lbs raspberries, fresh or frozen
              • 1 cup water
              • 1/8 tsp salt
              • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps sugar
              • 1/4 cup corn syrup
              • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum


              1. Mix all ingredients in blender.
              2. Strain to remove seeds.
              3. Freeze in an ice cream maker.