Making ice cream the easy way

Wednesday , July 09, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner contributor

I've always thought of homemade ice cream as a bit of a hassle.

I dislike hauling out the ice cream maker from storage, and then packing it with ice and rock salt that melts and sloshes around.

That mindset changed a little when a relative gave me a Cuisinart ICE-20 ice cream/frozen yogurt maker. You don't have to mess with crushed ice or rock salt. You place the double-insulated mixing bowl in the freezer for several hours or overnight. When you've got your ingredients all mixed together, you just pour it in the bowl and turn on the machine.

In about a half-hour's time, the cream mixture is as thick as soft-serve ice cream.

The big drawback is that you must freeze the bowl solidly before you can make a batch of ice cream, so you can't have a sudden " Let's make ice cream!" moment., and you can't make multiple batches one right after another. Also, each batch makes only about 1 1/2 quarts, or six cups. There are similar models that made two quarts, or 8 cups. But that's still not a lot for an ice-cream party.

This particular model costs about $50, but I've seen other ice cream machines that cost $400. For that price, I could buy a lot of Ben and Jerry's.

I've also tried the Mega Ball Play & Freeze ice cream maker, a blue hard-plastic globe that reminded me of soccer ball on steroids. You put cream, vanilla and sugar in the middle cyclinder, and surround it with ice and rock salt. Everyone rolls it or shakes it until the cream freezes. The instructions warned not to kick or throw it hard, because it could break. By the time it was filled with ice and cream, it weighed about nine pounds, so we couldn't toss it much anyway. We just rolled it around on the lawn with our feet. My grandson soon lost interest, but we rolled and shook it around for about a half hour, until it was the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. It's a novelty — I guess at a party you could consider it an "ice breaker." But, it only makes a quart (four cups) of ice cream at a time.

To feed a larger group, I think my salt-and-ice bucket with the motor on top is still the most practical. I bought mine for $19.95 about ten years ago, and I'll bet you can find them at garage sales or second-hand stores for even less. It's more of a hassle but it gets the job done. You can make bigger quantities, and make a second or third batch by dumping out all the old water and ice and adding new.

The Cuisinart did a great job making the Maple Bacon ice cream recipe from Wendy Paul's "101 Ice Cream Creations." Bacon has found its way into doughnuts, chocolates and the craze doesn't seem to be slowing down. Instead of frying bacon, I used a package of pre-cooked bacon bits. My husband didn't like the flavor — this is clearly not his breakfast of champions. It was a hit with my tennis group, but we decided it might be worth it to fry fresh bacon and crumble it, so the bacon bits aren't as chewy.

Since Greek yogurt is trendy right now, I wondered if it would be a good addition to my usual Strawberry Sorbet recipe. I'm calling it So Yo, as a cross between a sorbet and frozen yogurt. (I guess you could just call it sherbet, but that wouldn't be as much fun.) This is a super-simple recipe, and there's not peeling or chopping fruit involved. You don't have to add sugar because the syrup-packed berries, the flavored yogurt and the jam add plenty of sweetness. The pectin in the jam gives the sorbet a more pliable texture, so it's not as icy. (A trick I learned from "The Dessert Bible" by Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen.)

The churning process incorporates air into the ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt. It's called "overrun" in commercial ice cream. This is why you shouldn't fill the canister to the brim before you turn it on; you need to allow space for the ice cream to expand. The more air is incorporated, the more light and pillowy your ice cream will be. The less air, the more dense it will be.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups light cream

1 cup 2 percent milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2-3 teaspoons maple flavoring

1 pound bacon, trimmed of the fat, cooked, cooled and crumbled

Whisk together the sugar, cream, milk and flavorings until well-combined. Stir in the bacon crumbles. Transfer the cream mixture into an ice cream machine and

follow manufacturer’s directions in freezing. Makes 1 quart.

Options: Instead of cooking fresh bacon, stir in a 3-ounce package of pre-cooked bacon crumbles. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and additional sprinkle of bacon.

— Adapted from “101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations,” by Wendy Paul, Front Table Books

Greek Strawberry So-Yo

1 16-ounce package frozen chopped strawberries in syrup, thawed

1 16-ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed

2 5-ounce cartons strawberry-flavored Greek yogurt

1/2 cup strawberry jam

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Process in an ice cream maker, following manufacturers' directions.

Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts (or 6-7 cups), depending on how much air you is incorporated into the batch.

— Valerie Phillips

Contact Valerie Phillips at

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