Saturday, January 10, 2009

Home-made Ice Cream

I'm going through a bit of an ice-cream phase now. Not eating, but making them! And it is absolutely so easy-peasy, with Nigella Lawson's wonderful no-churn recipe you don't even need an ice-cream machine to turn out the good stuff in only 10 minutes (of course, then you have to freeze it for 4 hours). The science-y part works this way - cream, eggs, milk and sugar help to keep ice crystals apart as the mixture freezes, so you get a semi-solid consistency and not one huge ice block. Commercial ice-creams do so with the aid of emulsifiers. To make ice cream at home without having to churn it constantly in order to break up the ice crystals as they form, simply ramp up the proportion of cream. The addition of alcohol or honey also lowers the freezing point of the mixture, which makes the ice-cream softer, with a lovely spoonable consistency.
Here's a basic recipe for cranberry ice-cream which I adapted using Nigella Lawson's, you can also use the same formula to make other types like rum & raisin, coffee, dark chocolate cognac, honey, and the list goes on.
400 ml whipping cream (at least 35% fat) (if you're feeling adventurous, use pure cream which - has 45% fat)
200 ml cranberry juice (if you're using pomegranate or other forms of juice which are less tart, squeeze in 2 teaspoons of lime or lemon juice)
150 g icing sugar (fine caster sugar is also okay, though it takes a longer time to dissolve)
-Dissolve the sugar in the juice and stir well to form a syrup. It should taste very sweet.
-In a big bowl, mix the syrup and cream.
-Whisk the mixture till it forms soft peaks - it will generally increase in volume by about 50%. (Important - do not overwhisk or your mixture will separate and form curds, and you will have to throw the entire thing away. )
- Freeze ice-cream for at least 4 hours, separating into smaller portions for convenient eating if necessary.
(Do avoid thawing and refreezing your ice-cream once it has frozen, as the thawed mixture will refreeze into bigger ice crystals, which will make your ice-cream taste "icy".)

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