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Roasted Strawberry and Kefir Ice Cream

We're coming to the end of strawberry season over here. But you can still get huge boxes in the shops for the equivalent of pennies.

And they still taste great. The darker the berries, the sweeter the juice.

I have some Kefir in the fridge and had heard you can use it interchangeably with buttermilk in recipes. 

So I'd thought I'd try the Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk recipe from Jenis Splendid Ice Cream at Home.

Jenis book is great and I love her ice creams but her standard base involves a lot of faffing around with cornstarch and cream cheese that sometimes I can't be bothered with.

The cornstarch and cream cheese are presumably a home cook friendly way of getting some stabilization and extra milk solids in the ice cream.

But you can achieve better results, more easily (which is important, as I'm quite lazy) with a proper ice cream stabilizer blend and skimmed milk powder.

So I used those instead.

The result was much less intense than the Strawberry Ice Cream with Balsamic Vinegar I made a couple of weeks ago.

This is a much subtler, lighter ice cream with the Kefir bringing out a tart perfume in the strawberries.

Lovely...


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Roasted Strawberry and Kefir Ice Cream
A bright, subtly tangy strawberry ice cream
Prep Time 5
Cook Time 15
Passive Time 60
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Ice Cream Base
Roasted Strawberries
Prep Time 5
Cook Time 15
Passive Time 60
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Ice Cream Base
Roasted Strawberries
Instructions
Roasted Strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Wash and dry the strawberries. Cut out the green stalks and then cut them into thick slices. Mix them with the sugar and roast in a baking dish for around 8 minutes or until they're soft.
  2. Let the strawberries cool slightly. Then puree in a food processor with the lemon juice. Measure out 2/3 of the mixture for the recipe. Keep the other 1/3 for something else!
Ice Cream
  1. Mix all the dry ice cream ingredients (Skimmed Milk Powder, Granulated sugar, Ice Cream Stabilizer) together, thoroughly, in a bowl.
  2. Then add all the wet ingredients (Milk, Cream, Corn Syrup) except the Kefir to the bowl and blend thoroughly with a stick blender. Alternatively, you can do this in a liquidizer.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and stirring continuously over a medium-low heat, bring it to the the temperature at which the stabilizer will hydrate. This varies from one stabilizer brand to another and will be written on the packet. It should never boil.
  4. When the mixture reaches the correct temperature it will start to thicken. Take it off the heat. Cool in an ice bath.
  5. Then add the strawberry puree and Kefir and blend again. Transfer the mixture to a bowl with a lid and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Then transfer it to a plastic freezer box and freeze for around 1 hour.
  7. After an hour it should be soft enough to serve directly from the freezer but firm enough to melt slowly. If you've left it in the freezer for longer and it's too hard to serve, simply leave it out until it's softened.
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Chai Spice Ice Cream

This is a Frankenstein's Monster type of recipe, bolted together clumsily with bits from two other recipes. It turned out great though!

I wanted to try the light ice cream base from the underbelly blog. But I didn't want a plain old milk flavor.

The easiest way to add a bit a flavor to a recipe without having to re-balance the mixture is through infusion. And I'd been fancying a Chai Tea ice cream for a while. 

So I took the spices (unfortunately I didn't have any actual tea) from the Honey Chai Frozen Yogurt recipe in Dana Cree's "Hello, My name is Ice Cream" and mixed them into underbelly base...

And boom, I had a pretty successful Chai Spice Ice Cream.

There were a few other missing ingredients to be honest. All my individual stabilizers had gone off (!), so I used a generic, pre-mixed ice cream stabilizer. No problems there.

But I'd forgotten about the invert syrup and I didn't have time to make any so I substituted it for Karo Light Corn Syrup.

Structurally I think they're more or less the same but the Karo is much less sweet than invert sugar. And since the underbelly recipe isn't very sweet anyway, I was worried the Karo might tip it over into "flatness".

It was fine though. The spices are are gently warming. And the light base carries them well.

The kids obviously didn't like it. But that just meant there was more for me... 


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Chai Spice Ice Cream
A light ice cream subtly spiced with the flavors of India.
Chai Spice Ice Cream
Prep Time 5
Cook Time 15
Passive Time 60
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Ice Cream Base
Chai Spice Mix
Prep Time 5
Cook Time 15
Passive Time 60
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Ice Cream Base
Chai Spice Mix
Chai Spice Ice Cream
Instructions
  1. Mix all the dry ice cream ingredients (Skimmed Milk Powder, Granulated sugar, Dextrose, Ice Cream Stabilizer) together thoroughly in a bowl.
  2. Then add the wet ingredients (Milk, Cream, Corn Syrup) to the bowl and blend thoroughly with a stick blender. Alternatively, you can do this in a liquidizer.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, add the chai spices, and stirring continuously over a medium-low heat, bring it to the the temperature at which the stabilizer will hydrate. This varies from stabilizer to stabilizer and will be written on the packet. It should never boil.
  4. When the mixture reaches the correct temperature it will start to thicken. Take it off the heat. Cool in an ice bath. And then refrigerate in a bowl with a lid for as long as you can stand.
  5. If you leave it overnight in the fridge it will benefit the texture and flavor of the ice cream, giving the spices more time to infuse. But certainly wait until it's down to fridge temperature!
  6. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Then transfer it to a plastic freezer box and freeze for around 1 hour.
  7. After an hour it should be soft enough to serve directly from the freezer but firm enough to melt slowly. If you've left it in the freezer for longer and it's too hard to serve, simply leave it out until it's softened.
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Mint and Lemon Balm Ice Cream

We're in lock down in Barcelona. And there's no herbs growing on my terrace. In fact there's nothing growing on my terrace at the moment!

Luckily the boys in the flat above us threw down a bunch of mixed herbs from their terrace, mostly mint and lemon balm (which they recommended we make into soothing teas).

The weather's hotting up now though, so instead I knocked up a quick ice cream based on a recipe in the excellent Ices: The Definitive Guide by Liddell and Weir.

It uses a light French vanilla custard base, infused with the grassy flavors of the herbs using a vigorous muddle and a bit of a steep.

The end result was slightly chewy ice cream with a lovely, herby fresh mint flavor that's lifted by the citrusy lemon balm.

Perfect for eating on our plantless terrace, as we enjoy the last of the days sun and dream about when the garden centers will open again...


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Mint and Lemon Balm Ice Cream
A fresh, relatively light ice cream infused with the clean, grassy flavors of mint and lemon balm. Perfect for sitting in the late sun.
Mint and Lemon Balm Ice Cream
Prep Time 5
Cook Time 15
Passive Time 60
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5
Cook Time 15
Passive Time 60
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Mint and Lemon Balm Ice Cream
Instructions
  1. Mix the milk, beaten eggs,vanilla extract, sugar (and optional locust bean gum) together. If you are using locust bean gum, it's a good idea to mix it into the sugar before you add it to the wet ingredients to avoid clumping.
  2. Add the mixture to a saucepan and heat gently, stirring vigorously all the time until it starts to thicken. This will take 8 - 10 minutes. Do not overheat or the mixture will curdle...
  3. If you have a kitchen thermometer heat to 85°C / 185°F. If you don't have a thermometer heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and holds a line drawn through it with your finger.
  4. As soon as the mixture hits 85°C / 185°F, remove it from the heat, and continue to stir while you submerge the bottom of the pan in cold water. This will prevent any residual heat from curdling the custard.
  5. Rip up the springs of mint and lemon balm and add them to the cooling custard. Give them a good muddle.
  6. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then transfer it to the fridge. Leave for a least an hour, preferably two. Even better overnight. Taste the mixture to make sure you're happy.
  7. Stir in the cream and then pour the mixture into your ice cream machine through a sieve, pressing the mint and lemon balm to make sure you get all the flavor out.
  8. Churn the mixture until it starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and looks like whipped cream.
  9. You can eat it directly from the machine (but it will melt quickly). Or transfer it to a plastic freezer container, cover with cling film or grease-proof paper (to prevent ice crystals forming on the surface) and then a lid and leave for a least a couple of hours.
  10. Remove from the freezer and if it's frozen solid, let it soften for 15 or 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

The Locust Bean Gum is entirely optional. It will improve the texture slightly. But the eggs will do a reasonable job on their own.

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12

The Perfect No-Cook Vanilla Ice Cream Base

I love ice cream. But I'm also very lazy. So obviously, a no-cook ice cream base will always be the holy grail for me!

With a no-cook ice cream, you just mix all the cold ingredients together and then pop the mixture straight into your ice cream maker. Easy. And you win so many times...

  • less time and effort preparing the recipe
  • less time and effort spent washing up
  • no time at all wasted waiting for the mixture to cool down!

So, you work less and get to eat ice cream sooner. What's not to love? Well, the problem is that most no-cook ice creams are horrible.

The most common recipe you'll find on the web is a Philadelphia base that goes something like this:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup sugar

Bleugghh. Too fatty and sweet for me. And it gets really icy, really quickly in the freezer.

Most no-cook ice creams are too fatty and too sweet

And this is the problem with most no-cook ice creams. In order to work without cooking, they're often loaded up with fat and sugar. And because they don't use eggs or anything else to stabilize the ice cream, they quickly deteriorate in the freezer.

There's loads of ways round this using fancy sugars and stabilizers. But most people don't have easy access to these ingredients.

What I'm looking for...

I wanted to make a no-cook ice cream that didn't compromise either taste or texture and could be made with ingredients that are easy to find in most supermarkets. So it should:

  1. taste great (of clean dairy cream rather than of over sweetened fat)
  2. not become icy straight away in the freezer
  3. be made from easily available ingredients.

Not easy, it's true. Almost every recipe on the internet (and to be honest, there aren't many that don't use the aforementioned Philadelphia base), uses far more cream than milk and I know that means they're going to be too fatty for me.

However I did find a different Philadelphia base recipe in the book Ices: The Definitive Guide by Liddell and Weir which actually uses more milk than cream:

  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of cream
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of sweetened condensed milk

So I tried this and it was pretty good. Clean and milky with a nice firm body. The condensed milk gave the ice cream a slightly chewy texture and a very subtle cooked flavor that was in fact, quite nice.

Condensed Milk

The liquid sugar in the condensed milk no doubt helped control the ice crystals. However it was still a little bit icy. And it did get more icy, quite quickly in the freezer. And in the end, I decided the condensed milk gave the ice cream slightly too much chew. It was a bit toffee like.

Condensed milk

My condensed milk is 8% fat 55% sugar and 7% proteins 

But this recipe was good starting point. All I had to do was reduce the condensed milk and control the iciness. The thing is, removing some of the condensed milk was actually likely to increase the iciness. I had to replace it with something else.

Skimmed Milk Powder

Enter skimmed milk powder (SMP). It's easily available in the supermarket, it will replace the milk solids from the condensed milk and by soaking up the water in the milk, it should also help control the iciness.

Skimmed milk powder

SMP will add body and control iciness

But by replacing some of the condensed milk with SMP, we're also reducing the sugar level. On one hand, this is great as it allows us to taste more of the dairy flavors. But on the other hand, less sugar means the ice cream will freeze much harder in the freezer.

We could add a tablespoon of vodka to help keep the ice cream softer in our freezers. But I just leave it out a good five minutes before I serve it, to soften up. And this works fine!

Extra Stabilization?

Any ice crystals that melt while left out, will re-freeze as bigger crystals back in the freezer. I wanted to control this by adding extra stabilization. And with luck, this should also improve the general smoothness and creaminess of the ice cream. But what to use?

Eggs are what we'd usually use. And while there are recipes that use raw eggs in un-cooked ice cream, I didn't think it would appeal to many people! The thing is, most other stabilizers require heating to trigger them. For example, cornstarch, tapioca starch, locust bean gum all need to be heated or they won't work.

Xanthan Gum

The only ones I can think of that don't are Guar Gum and Xanthan Gum. While Guar Gum can still be pretty difficult to get hold of, Xanthan Gum is often used by vegans as an egg replacement in baking. So it should be in the health section of most big supermarkets. Or if not, your local health food shop.

Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum works at cold temperatures

With Xanthan Gum a little goes a long way. We don't need much and in fact, if you do use too much it can give the ice cream a slightly slimy texture. So be careful! Your measurement need to be exact.

You don't have to use any Xanthan Gum, but it will definitely make this ice cream better. It will be smoother coming out of the ice cream maker and will take longer to go icy once it's stored in your freezer.

Vanilla

I actually prefer this base without any vanilla. But if you want that flavor don't add too much or it will overpower those dairy flavors. And always use either vanilla beans or proper vanilla extract. The vanilla essence stuff is artificial and nasty! 

Anyway, the recipe...


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The Perfect No-Cook Ice Cream Base
This is the perfect no-cook vanilla ice cream for the lazy ice creamer! Just mix everything together and add to your ice cream maker. More milk than cream gives it a nice clean taste. The skimmed milk powder, sweetened condensed milk and Xanthan Gum give it a smooth texture, a firm, slightly chewy body and a creamy mouth-feel. Just like all the best ice cream, but with none of the faff!
Perfect no-cook ice cream base
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Perfect no-cook ice cream base
Instructions
  1. Add the skimmed milk powder, sugar, xanthan gum and salt to a bowl and mix thoroughly. If the xanthan gum is not completely mixed into the sugar before we add the liquids, it won't work properly.
  2. Add the milk, cream and sweetened condensed milk to the bowl. They should all have been thoroughly pre-chilled in the fridge.
  3. If you're using a vanilla bean, cut it open and scrape the beans into the mixture. If you're using vanilla extract, just mix it in.
  4. Blend the mixture for 1 minute. It should start to thicken up to reach the consistency of a thin custard.
  5. Place the mixture in your fridge or freezer. This is an optional step. But the colder you can get it before you put in the ice cream maker, the better the final texture.
  6. Place the container that you're going to store the ice cream in in the freezer to pre-chill. This will reduce melting while you're transferring the ice cream to the freezer.
  7. Prepare your ice cream maker. If you're using a compressor machine, turn it on for 15 minutes to pre-chill before you add the mixture.
  8. If you've left the mixture in the freezer for too long and it's started to freeze slightly, give it another quick blend.
  9. Add the mixture to the ice cream maker and turn it on. The ice cream will be ready after 20 to 30 minutes, when it starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and has the consistency of soft serve or whipped cream.
    Knox Gear ice cream after 30 minutes
  10. Stop the machine and quickly transfer the ice cream to your pre-cooled container. Place a layer of cling film or baking paper over the surface of the ice cream, to discourage ice crystals developing. Then add the lid and place the container in the back of your freezer for 2 to 4 hours to harden up.
  11. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften for 5 minutes before serving.
    Softened ice cream
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9

Fior di Latte: A simple gelato recipe

Fior di latte is perhaps the simplest, purest ice cream of all. It’s a Sicilian gelato and fior di latte translates from Italian as “flower of milk”. Or “the best of the milk”.

And that’s all it is: a sweetened, milky ice cream. No eggs. No vanilla. Nothing but milk, cream and sugar.

I’ve seen it described as “monastically simple”. And while there is something quietly spiritual about those soft, white waves, there should be nothing austere about this gelato.

Thick, dense and creamy, as long as it’s not too sweet there’s a whole load of complex dairy flavors to explore here.

For many, a Fior di latte is the best test of a gelato shop. I suppose because any shortcuts an inferior gelateria might try to hide behind other flavors will be starkly apparent in their Fior di latte!

And that’s why it such a great place to start when you start learning to make ice cream. You can really concentrate on finding a balance of sweetness and creaminess and a texture and body that work for you.

I recommend making it again and again and again!

In this Fior di latte recipe I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible. So I’ve tried to keep the ingredients to a minimum and the preparation as straightforward as possible. Let’s have a look at each ingredient in more detail:

Milk

In this recipe I’m using 3.5% full fat milk. You could use semi-skimmed or even skimmed. But then you’d need to adjust the recipe.

This because when the milk is combined with the cream, we’re looking for a 7% total fat content. So if you use lower fat milk, you’ll need to use a higher proportion of cream.

Why 7%? Any less and it starts to taste a bit “hard” and “metallic” to me. And the sweetness is accentuated so it can start to taste like candy. Any more and the creaminess can leave a slightly cloying aftertaste.

Cream

Although it’s called Fior di latte, every recipe I’ve ever seen contains some amount of cream. And as I mention above, with too little cream it starts to taste a little “hard” to me.

There is in fact a variation called Fior di panna (“flower of cream”, obviously). But it’s not clear to me at what point the amount of cream means it’s a Fior di panna rather than a Fior di latte!

Anyway I’m using 36% fat cream. You can of course use cream with a different fat content. Just be aware that you won’t get the 7% fat that I’m aiming for without adjusting the recipe.

Table Sugar

Most ice cream tastes far too sweet to me. But we don’t use sugar just for the sweet taste. It also keeps the ice cream thick and soft and stops it getting icy. So we can’t just use less sugar when we want a less sweet ice cream.

What we can do, however is use different types of sugar. This is because different sugars have different levels of sweetness. So here we use a combination of table sugar (sucrose) and the less sweet dextrose.

Dextrose

Dextrose (also called Glucose) is only 3/4 as sweet as table sugar. So if we replace some table sugar with dextrose we still get all the structural benefits of sugar, but the ice cream will be less sweet.

Dextrose also reduces the freezing point of water more than table sugar, which means our ice cream will be softer too!

Locust Bean Gum

With no eggs to emulsify and stabilize this low fat gelato, we need to add something else to thicken the ice cream and stop it becoming icy and coarse.

Fior di latte gelato probably originates in Sicily and is essentially a frozen crema rinforzata which is a sweet milk pudding, thickened with cornstarch. And we could use cornstarch here.

But it’s a little bit more difficult to make Fior di latte with cornstarch. And more importantly, I’ve never managed to do it without being able to taste the cornstarch in the final gelato.

Locust Bean Gum works in the same way as cornstarch but is much more effective, much easier to use and most importantly: adds no discernible taste to the final gelato!

You probably won’t be able to find it in your local supermarket. But it’s widely available online, it lasts for ages and as we’ll see, a little goes a long way.

OK, the recipe…

Print Recipe
Fior di Latte Gelato
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 12 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Making the mixture
  1. Add the table sugar and the dextrose to a deep saucepan.
  2. Add the Locust Bean Gum to the saucepan. Unless you have specialized scales, it will be difficult to weigh 3 grams accurately. So, 3 grams is about the same as 1 ¼ compact teaspoons.
  3. Use a fork to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. This part is really important. If the Locust Bean Gum isn't thoroughly mixed into the rest of the dry ingredients before you add the milk, it won't work properly.
  4. Add the milk to the saucepan and warm over a medium heat, stirring all the time to dissolve the dry ingredients.
  5. Keep stirring and checking the temperature with a digital cooking thermometer until the mixture reaches 185° F / 85° C.
  6. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to about 149° F / 65° C.
  7. Then add the cream and blitz for a couple of minutes with a hand blender.
  8. Transfer to a bowl and when the mixture stops steaming, cover with cling film and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  9. Put the bowl in the fridge until it the mixture cools to at least 45° F / 7° C. You'll get the best results if you leave it overnight.
  10. Place the container that you'll use to store the ice cream in the freezer. This will pre-chill it, so it's less likely to melt the ice cream when you're transferring it from the machine to the freezer.
Spinning the ice cream
  1. Remove the mixture from the fridge and give it another quick blitz with a hand blender.
  2. Turn on your ice cream maker and add the mixture.
  3. After around 20 minutes the mixture should have thickened up and have a texture like soft serve ice cream.
Freezing the ice cream
  1. As quickly as possible, transfer the mixture to the pre-chilled container and put it at the back of the freezer where it's coldest.
  2. After around 1 hour, the ice cream will have hardened up and be perfect for eating. It doesn't keep well though and will start to deteriorate after just one night in the freezer. So eat it quickly!
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