If there was ever a summer for DIY ice cream, this is it. With a new generation of cheap, efficient ice-cream makers readily available during a time of serious scrutiny in personal finance, it turns out that a $40 ice-cream machine pays for itself shockingly quickly. It’s also incredibly easy; most machines on the market simply consist of a bowl you freeze before adding ingredients and mixing, no ice or salt required.
Then it’s just a matter of getting the proportions right. Your simplest ice-cream recipe has, by volume, a ratio of about one-part milk to two-parts cream, with a little less than one-part granulated sugar. The basic ice cream recipe I use for my one-quart ice-cream maker is one cup whole milk, two cups cream (you can substitute light cream/half and half), and three-fourths cup granulated sugar, with a splash of good vanilla extract. In all cases you want to heat the dairy and the sugar until the sugar dissolves before pouring the cooled mixture into your ice cream maker.
My most successful variations to date have been, somewhat surprisingly, the simplest: cinnamon ice cream (add about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, which is far more than you’ll think you need, to the basic recipe); and avocado ice cream (add one diced-and-then-crushed avocado to the mix when the ice cream is almost totally frozen). In fact, my friend Colleen and I have been talking about making an ice-cream burrito from red bean, avocado, tomato and sweet corn ice-cream wrapped in a sugared tortilla. I think we’re both afraid of trying it out for fear that life afterwards would be all downhill.
Colleen’s vegan ice-cream recipes betray her talent and artistry. The usual problem with vegan ingredients is their low-fat content; Colleen’s answer is coconut milk and coconut cream, and full-fat soy yogurt and soy milk. For her vegan coconut curry ice cream, heat and stir until dissolved: one cup coconut cream, three cups coconut milk, three-fourths cup sugar, and two tablespoons red curry paste (look for a kind that doesn’t use fish sauce); chill before adding to the machine. Colleen’s basic frozen soy yogurt uses three cups plain soy yogurt, one-half cup sugar and one tablespoon vanilla. (Again, combine, heat and stir until sugar is dissolved before chilling and introducing it to the ice-cream maker. For vegan mint chocolate ice cream, combine one cup coconut cream, two cups soy milk, three-fourths cup sugar, one-and-a-half tablespoons peppermint extract and one-half tablespoon vanilla extract; do the heat/mix/chill song and dance. Add a vegan chocolate treat (Colleen uses crushed-up Newman-O’s cookies) to the machine at the end of its cycle. (Monica Westin)