Ice Cream

Real Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream offers endless possibilities. Whatever your vision, the key to keeping it scoopable soft is to include the optimal amount of sugar (15-18% by weight). This recipe weighs in at 16%, which allows a lean custard with as few as two yolks, or an indulgent French style with as many as eight.

For variations, there are a couple of helpful guidelines. Whisk flavoring powders with eggs and sugar to quickly dissolve, heat flavoring solids with cream and milk to melt or extract flavor, and add acidic ingredients after the custard is cooled in its ice bath to prevent curdling of milk proteins. And finally, layer in flavorful bits after the custard has been frozen.

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (replace up to 2 tablespoons with corn syrup, chocolate syrup, etc.)
  • Up to 1 ¼ ounce flavoring powders (espresso, cocoa, etc.)
In a 3-quart bowl, whisk all together until uniform in color and texture (50-60 seconds). Set aside.

Tip: Start with cold eggs (they separate easily). Crack each shell in half, moving yolk back and forth between halves, allowing the yolk to fall into one bowl and white to fall into another. Cover and refrigerate whites for another use.

Sugar inhibits heat-induced yolk curdling. Yolks, syrups, and milk fats (cream) all discourage ice crystal formation during the freezing process. Flavoring powders dissolve readily in a high fat or sugar mixture.
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Up to 3 ounces flavoring solids (chocolate, vanilla bean, etc.)
In a 2-quart tri-ply saucepan set over medium heat, stir all together with a bamboo spatula until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F (6-7 minutes). The mixture will softly foam when it is close. Promptly remove from heat to allow the temperature to cruise gently up to 172°F. 172°F denatures whey proteins, improving their ability to stabilize ice crystals. Commercial pasteurization is insufficient, as it often uses lower temperatures.
  To temper yolks, add hot mixture to the egg mixture in a slow stream while continuously whisking. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat, stirring gently but continuously with a bamboo spoon until it hits 165°F (1-2 minutes), monitoring closely. The custard will coat the spatula when it is close to the desired temperature. Promptly remove from heat. Tempering heats eggs quickly but gently with little risk of curdling. Holding eggs at 160°F for 1 minute sterilizes them, but overheating risks curdling and extended cooking brings out an unpleasant “eggy” flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons vodka or rum
Pour custard through a wire mesh strainer into a 1-quart storage container. Stir in vanilla and alcohol; do not cap. Alcohol inhibits crystal formation during freezing.
  • 1-quart ice bath (2 cups ice with 2 cups cool tap water)
Prepare the ice bath in a 5-quart bowl. Submerge custard container base to cool (20 minutes); cap tightly and age in the refrigerator 4-24 hours. Accelerated cooling reduces any “eggy” flavor. Aging promotes smoothness.
  • Up to ¾ cup chopped, frozen nuts, real chocolate, etc. (approximately pea-sized)
Follow ice cream maker’s instructions to freeze (25-30 minutes). With a bamboo spoon (strong, not heat conductive), layer in candy/nuts while transferring to 1-pint storage containers. Cap tightly; freeze promptly. Small containers freeze more quickly, reducing crystal formation.