Most ice cream lovers don't realize you can whip up the delectable frozen treat with just three common ingredients! Here I'll walk you through a simple technique and the basic recipe for how to make homemade ice cream of any flavor you can dream up. Screaming is optional!
Beware of commercial ice cream
One day scrounging around my parents freezer, I came across a tub of generic brand chocolate ice cream. Score! But then I read the ingredient list (occupational hazard).
Seriously, check your label next time. I screamed.
Not so much for the ice cream, but in its direction.
The truth about corn syrup
Corn syrup is produced through acidic chemical processes that convert corn starch into a sugar syrup. High fructose corn syrup is corn syrup that undergoes further chemical processing, and also a concentration process to raise its sweetness level. Bottom line: any corn syrup is processed. If you're trying to eat a real food diet, it's best avoided.
If you want to read more on this, here is a cited source.
The best of the worst sugar choices
Let's not kid ourselves, sugar is sugar in any form. All types are bad for your health if consumed regularly. But if we are going to indulge on occasion, it seems prudent to craft our own homemade ice cream with one of the following:
- Raw honey
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Organic/Raw sugar
Unadulterated ice cream, the old-fashioned way
The above-referenced high and low of emotions over what I've dubbed "chocolate-flavored frozen corn syrup" reminded me of the good ol' days. When we churned homemade ice cream in the big wooden barrel with the funny rock salt. My parents still have the now seemingly useless contraption.
Nowadays it's easy to craft your own, real ingredient ice cream without all the funny salt (or worse, the endless hand cranking). Plenty of companies sell moderately priced, easy to use electric ice cream makers. My mother-in-law gifted me a Cuisinart. As my niece would say, awesomeness.
How to make homemade ice cream
What's so great about homemade ice cream is a basic custard recipe can be made with only three ingredients.
- Heavy cream or whole milk (or combination)
- Egg yolks (save the whites for French macarons!)
Seriously, that's it. For a richer ice cream, go with the full measure of heavy cream. But if all you have on hand is milk, don't let that stop you. Perhaps add an additional egg yolk for more richness.
The method for homemade custard ice cream
The basic custard mixture for homemade ice cream literally takes about ten minutes. Tops. What you are actually cooking up is a basic vanilla sauce (crème anglaise).
Four easy steps + three ingredients for custard ice cream
- Separate eggs to get as many yolks as you need into a heat-proof bowl.
- Bring cream and sugar just to a boil.
- Stir the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks.
- Cook the combined mixture over medium-low heat until it can coat the back of a spoon and maintain separation when you run your finger through it.
If we get scientific, you're aiming for a temperature of about 170° F. This is the temperature at which harmful bacteria like any salmonella lingering in the egg yolks will die. #cookingisscience
Slightly under and even ten degrees over is just fine. You just don't want to boil this custard, as it will taste more like scrambled eggs than a rich cream sauce.
Churn, baby, churn
Once chilled, you pour the sauce into your already running ice cream maker. Once it's slightly thicker than soft-serve, pour into a storage container and freeze until it hardens. For most electric ice cream makers, churn time runs between 15 and 20 minutes.
Ways to create your own ice cream recipes
To quote my former and very Swiss pastry instructor, "If you want strawberry ice cream, just add strawberries. If you want rum ice cream, just add rum. Just not so much you get drunk." So on that note...
Once you prepare the ice cream base and chill it, you can customize the flavor any way you like. As for amounts, it is a matter of personal taste and preference.
A good starting point is 2 tablespoons of any extract or liqueur and/or a ½ cup of fruit purée for every quart (4 cups) of ice cream.
Then follow these few rules for best results:
- Add extracts and any smooth-consistency flavorings such as fruit purée prior to churning.
- If using an alcoholic flavoring, add it in the last minute of churning, as it could prevent the ice cream from fully freezing.
- If adding chocolate chips, nuts, pieces of fruit or crushed candy bar, add them once the ice cream is soft-serve consistency. Simply churn a few moments more to incorporate the toppings evenly.
Ideas for flavoring your custard ice cream base
Easy Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe
In step one of the recipe method above, whisk in ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the milk, cream and sugar before bringing to a boil. Continue as directed.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe
After step one, add a the seeds from a vanilla bean to the hot milk mixture and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the bean, scrape out the seeds with the back of a small knife and add them to the liquid. Return liquid to a boil and proceed as directed.
I personally love Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste for ease of use (not an affiliate link). Simply add it to the ice cream mixture before churning, as you would vanilla extract. Super simple, and as enticing and intoxicating as the real deal.
Yours in custard,
I love this ice cream recipe because after a couple rounds the ratio becomes ingrained. Then the fun of experimentation really begins!
I love adding half a packet of Starbucks Instant Coffee with the cream and sugar to whip up an easy coffee ice cream. Mix in chocolate chips at the end of churning, and you've got yourself one edible time.
For GAPS diet ice cream, use organic, raw cream and ¼ cup of raw honey in place of the sugar.
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, whole milk or combination
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar, coconut sugar or maple syrup or ¼ cup raw honey
Custard Ice Cream Base
- Combine milk, cream and sugar in a small sauce pot and bring just to a boil.
- Stir egg yolks with a wooden spoon until smooth in a medium, heatproof bowl.
- Once liquid simmers, slowly stir hot mixture into egg yolks. Return entire mixture to pot.
- Stirring constantly, cook custard over medium heat just until it begins to thicken, another minute or two at the most.
- Scrape the bottom and corners of the pot to prevent scorching and clumping. Do not let the custard simmer or boil! The custard is done when it coats the back of spoon.
- Strain to remove any cooked egg bits, and chill at least four hours.
Add Flavorings + Freeze
- Before churning, add any extracts or fruit purée of your liking.
- Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
- If adding chocolate chips, candy bits, caramel sauce or liqueur, add at the end of churning and only mix to combine.
- Universally, ice cream is ready for removal when it is slightly thicker than soft serve. Freeze for an hour or two prior to serving, or enjoy as soft serve.
Keywords: homemade ice cream, custard ice cream, ice cream ingredients, vanilla ice cream, vanilla sauce, ice cream recipe