Easy ice cream

There are a lot of recipes for ice cream out there, but a lot of them involve making large amounts of custard creme and therefore large batches of ice cream. But sometimes you just want to make a small amount at a time, especially with a small ice cream maker. And portion control is important, too!

So, here’s a simple way to make a small amount of what’s essentially ice cream, without a lot of fuss or process:

  1. Combine 120 grams of half and half with 30 grams of agave nectar or corn syrup or other liquid sweetener (Torani flavor syrups might work well for this too)
  2. Add a pinch of salt
  3. Add a few drops of whatever flavor extract you want (4-5 drops of vanilla, peppermint, or orange extract) and any other flavorings you’re interested in
  4. Stir thoroughly (I use a milk frother or a tiny whisk)
  5. Churn until smooth

At this point you could also add small chocolate chips or fresh fruit or whatever other mix-ins you want.


Why half-and-half?

Most ice cream base is based on a mixture of heavy cream and milk, and ratios vary. Half-and-half splits it right down the middle. You might also try adding some dry skim milk powder to boost the protein content.

But please use actual half-and-half and not “creamer.” They’re not the same thing! Nor is “fat-free half-and-half.” Ice cream isn’t health food.

Why no eggs?

Well, not all ice creams are egg-based frozen custards; that’s just French style custard creams (which are, admittedly, the most popular kind). If you do want to make a custard cream you can make it in advance but you’ll probably want to make more at a time, and this is all about convenience. It’ll have a better texture and possibly flavor, though.

What about crystal size?

The salt and sugar both slow down the freezing process somewhat, which should help the crystals to remain smaller. A longer churn will also help. If the crystals are still too big, try adding a little more salt or sugar, or experiment with a different sweetener, or add a tiny bit of alcohol (but not too much, that will prevent it from setting entirely).

You could also try churning it longer, to break the crystals up more.

What if I want my ice cream to be harder?

After churning, leave it in the freezer for a couple hours.

Got a vegan version?

Try using coconut creme instead of half-and-half. I do not recommend soy or almond milk. I haven’t tried oat milk but it’s probably not great either.

Could I use sugar substitute instead?

Sugar substitute will not lower the freezing point of the cream and will likely result in much larger crystals. You might be able to get a more ice-cream-like consistency using tapioca starch or gelatin or the like. If you have dietary requirements around sugar intake then look to see what the commercial low-sugar ice creams use.

What if I’m lactose-intolerant?

Probably not a great idea to eat a full bowl of this, speaking from personal experience.


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