Ice cream is a great treat (especially for Southerners because, frankly, it’s hot here in the summer), especially when it is super-premium ice cream, and it can be particularly satisfying when you can make it for yourself. To do so, you need some special equipment — either a fancy ice cream maker with built-in freezer or an older-fashioned one requiring you to use lots of salt and ice and make a rather substantial mess in the process. Since there are a lot of great ice cream recipes out there on the internet, it would be nice to be able to get around the requirement for the machine. Based on the sworn “tried-and-true” method of a friend of this Examiner, making ice cream at home is indeed possible with no more special equipment than a freezer and a blender.
Does it work? Well, yes… and no. To understand this complicated answer, you’ve got to understand a little more about ice cream, and you’ve got to know where your standards are. Specifically, it is very likely impossible to get super-premium ice cream out of this project, but still, an enjoyable product is definitely possible without the need for special equipment, featuring whichever gourmet flavors you might want to attempt.
To make good ice cream, the ice cream machine constantly agitates the cream or custard mixture while it freezes, ensuring that a sufficient amount of air is incorporated into the mix while simultaneously ensuring that the ice crystals that form are kept small… the smaller the better, in fact, and the quality of the machine can have a lot to do with the outcome in that department. Since making ice cream at home without the benefit of a high-quality machine (or any machine for that matter) essentially prevents both of those requirements from taking place well, making homemade ice cream without a proper machine results in rather dense, grainy ice cream, which is good for milkshakes and floats but a bit disappointing on its own.
The recipe presented here is designed for simplicity since the outcome isn’t stellar in any case. Keep in mind that the definition of “super premium ice cream” requires a butterfat content of 12-14%, so this recipe, which calls simply for half and half, will not fit that bill since half and half is approximately 10.5% butterfat (though it technically lives in the range 10.5-18%, it’s probably a safe bet that in the interest of maximizing profits, large-scale commercial producers will sell half and half as close to 10.5% butterfat as they can get away with — another reason to buy local, Knoxville!).
Recipe: Super simple homemade ice cream without a machine, vanilla maple flavor — Ingredients
- 1 c. half and half (replace some with heavy cream for a richer result or some with whole milk for a lighter result);
- 3 tbsp. grade B or grade A dark amber maple syrup;
- 1 tbsp. premium-quality vanilla syrup (as for flavoring coffee) or 1/2 tsp. premium vanilla extract and an additional tsp. or two of maple syrup.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Cover the bowl with plastic or a clean towel to prevent off flavors and freezer burn, and freeze the mixture until hard-frozen (overnight, for instance).
- Scrape the frozen cream out of the bowl with the edge of a spoon and load it into a blender or food processor.
- Run the blender or food processor on high speed until the mixture starts to move smoothly. This may require some stirring and pushing down.
- Serve, garnished with berries, chocolate syrup, or what-have-you, keeping in mind that the result at this point is relatively grainy soft-serve ice cream.
- For hard ice cream, gently mix in any flavorings that you might want (e.g. shaved dark chocolate) and spoon the result into a bowl, push down slightly, cover it, and freeze it again. The process can be repeated for a slight improvement in texture, though the amount of extra work seems not to justify it.
For a little extra-delicious suggestion to make this even simpler, skip all of the ingredients and replace them with the unbelievable double-cream white chocolate milk from The Fresh Market. Oh goodness….
To make a milkshake with this homemade ice cream, add about 1/4 to 1/2 c. whole milk to the blender after blending and whichever other flavors you like (e.g. two bananas and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder), perhaps with just a little sugar, depending on your tastes. Blend it again and serve.
Buy it locally! You can get a great result with just about any milk and cream mixture, but for a really excellent product, consider making your super-easy homemade ice cream with locally produced milk from Cruze Farms, available at Earth Fare in Knoxville and at the Horn of Plenty Marketplace in Maryville, among other places (see link). Cruze Farms is located in Knoxville and produces excellent milk from Jersey cows, though they don’t sell cream or half and half. Pick up some great half and half at The Fresh Market under their own label to stay with the delicious Jersey Cow theme.
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