Homemade ice cream is one of the ultimate summer treats, and countertop ice cream makers have simplified the process to put a fresh batch of ice cream within reach on any weeknight, not just on a holiday.
Apparently, the electric devices made it too simple to make ice cream because new cookbooks from ice cream pros urges ice cream fans to assemble unlikely ingredients that go far beyond the basics. One of the most provocative new cookbooks comes from the West Coast founders of the Salt & Straw ice cream shops, known for their seasonal flavors and rich ice cream.
“The Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook” provides recipes for ice cream flavors that range from a basic vanilla to acquired tastes like olive oil, avocado and Skittles. Where the cookbook is most valuable is in addressing some of the snags that plague home crackers, like ice cream that freezes too hard.
The basic Salt & Straw base is made with corn syrup, powdered milk and xanthan gum in addition to the standard ingredients of cream, milk, eggs and flavorings.
Cookbook author Tyler Malek recommends adding a small amount of xanthan gum to any homemade ice cream recipe to minimize the formation of ice crystals and keep the texture creamy and not rock-hard.
While xanthan gum sounds like a heavily processed additive, it’s actually a natural sugar-based product available in grocery stores and Target that is used as a stabilizer, especially in gluten-free baking.
Sometimes, though, the “secret” ingredient is something more familiar, and easier to spell. Buttermilk ice cream has just a hint of tartness that is the perfect foil to the richness of an egg-intense ice cream. Buttermilk also combines with fruit such as strawberries or blueberries to deliver the fresh fruit taste with an added tang.
To bring out the fruit’s flavor, one buttermilk ice cream recipe calls for roasting the strawberries and puréeing them with balsamic vinegar for a mellow but assertive strawberry taste. Leftover purée also makes a delicious sundae topping on any flavor of ice cream.
The balsamic vinegar is another way of keeping ice cream from freezing into a solid block, and red wine serves the same function in blueberry buttermilk ice cream. The puréed blueberries are balanced with equal amounts of cream and buttermilk.
Malek also has tips for storing ice cream. Once the homemade ice cream is spooned into a container, turning it upside down and keeping it upended in the freezer moves the air away from the seal and keeps the ice cream fresher. If the ice cream won’t be eaten right away, dividing it into several small containers will also help it to last longer while maintaining its creamy qualities.
Ice cream shops often keep their serving cases a few degrees warmer than a deep freeze, so that the ice cream is easier to scoop. For similar results at home, take the ice cream container out of the freezer for five to ten minutes before scooping.