Frozen delight: Always the right time for ice cream

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, August 18, 2015

by Deirdre Parker Smith

For teachers and students, summer is pretty much over. For others, it’s not over until the thermometer drops below 80.

No matter what the time of year it is, it’s always the right time to make ice cream.

Not many of us still have that hand-cranked freezer Grandma used. If you do, hold on to it and keep it in good shape. It is a treasure. If you want to find one like it now, it’s going to cost you between $175 and $200.

Now there are other ways to make ice cream, mostly without a whole lot of effort. Canister electric ice cream makers made homemade ice cream an anytime treat, as long as you have milk, cream and a freezer.

Those crazy balls even make ice cream now. Instead of churning, you actually play with your food to turn it into ice cream.

Or you can go to another extreme, an ice cream maker with its own compressor. It’s fast, and it’ll set you back $300-$500.

So, let’s go middle of the road with one of the smaller countertop models that costs about $70, or less, depending on the brand. It’s fast, too, and pretty foolproof. Do plan ahead — it’s best to freeze the bowl of the maker for 24 hours for the quickest results.

There are lots of frozen desserts — ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet. We’re going to concentrate on ice cream and we’re going to keep it super easy, using recipes for what’s known as American-style ice cream, which is just milk, cream, sugar and flavorings.

French-style ice cream involves a cooked custard base of cream, milk, sugar and eggs or egg yolks. That makes a very rich ice cream but has a few extra steps.

What we want is a mix and freeze recipe with a few ingredients.

You can make an easy vanilla ice cream and add fruit, nuts, chocolate, cookie crumbs, whatever you can think of.

Or you can make flavored ice creams, like peach or chocolate.

Let’s take advantage of the available fresh peaches with this easy recipe:

Peaches and Cream

16 ounces peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place peaches and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Cook until peaches are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. If your peaches are very ripe and soft, omit this step.

Puree peaches in a blender or food processor.

If you did not cook the peaches, heat the cream, milk and sugar just until sugar dissolves, add vanilla and peaches and chill 3-4 hours or overnight. (Try not to eat this delicious mixture right away).

When ready, pour chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to directions. For firm ice cream, remove from maker and place in containers in freezer for 1 to 2 hours to harden.

This mixture is enough for a small second batch in the standard counter-top freezer.

Cocoa Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together milk, sugar and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat to dissolve the sugar and cocoa powder, until mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in cream, salt and vanilla.

Cool to room temperature, then chill for 3-4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and follow directions. Store ice cream in airtight containers in freezer.

Buttermilk Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine cream and sugar in a medium saucepan and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cover and chill 3-4 hours or overnight. When chilled, stir in buttermilk.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cram maker and follow directions. To harden ice cream, store in containers in freezer for 1-2 hours.

This ice cream is versatile when served with ripe fruits or fruit cobblers. It has a nice tang that will leave people wondering what kind of ice cream it is.

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup honey

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Mix milk, cream, peanut butter, salt, honey and vanilla until completely incorporated and very smooth. Chill 1-2 hours or over night. Put in ice cream freezer and follow directions.

Stir in chopped peanuts after ice cream has churned and harden in freezer in airtight containers 1-2 hours.

These recipes are adapted from “How to Make Ice Cream,” by Nichole Weston.

She points out that when adding solid ingredients such as chips, nuts, even caramel sauce, it should be done after the ice cream churns. Putting add-ins in at the beginning can clog the paddles. Stirring in caramel or chocolate sauce will have the best results once the ice cream has churned, if you want a swirl. Otherwise, the sauces will just turn into a flavoring.

Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.