SPEEDY ICE CREAM
From mid-May to early October, I’m a frozen food addict. Ice cream, sorbet, popsicles, frozen watermelon—during heat waves like we had this weekend, I could subsist (and have in past lives) entirely on coconut popsicles without a second thought. (When, for instance, one’s salary as a young wee thing makes air conditioning a luxury out of reach, replacing solid food with popsicles is an adequate solution. Consult your physician before attempting this non-medically supported diet plan.)
Now I’m fortunate to have an ice cream maker, which gets a lot of use during the warmer months. It’s not in the holy trinity of useful appliances (mixer, food processor, immersion blender), but it’s close. My beef with homemade ice cream, other than its somewhat questionable nutritional value, is the cooling time for a thickened base. If you make a traditional custard with eggs, the time it takes to cool from 170° to between 40 and 45°, the optimal churning temp, can seem interminable when the outdoor temperatures are almost as high as the custard’s. Even a sorbet made with simple syrup needs a goodly amount of chill-time.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve experimented with a quick-and-dirty no-heat ice cream base. You can use granulated sugar, maple syrup, or (best) an infused simple syrup that you’ve made in advance. Freezing your fruit helps, too. Purée everything in a blender, strain it through a sieve if you’re feeling fussy, and then churn immediately. Now, you should know that this kind of ice cream is best on the day it’s made. Leftover, it can be too icy: it doesn’t have adequate binding properties to hold up for long in the freezer. But the potential flavors are almost endless: it’s easily made dairy-free, and with so little time spent in prep, you can make a new flavor every day. So far I’ve made two kinds of blueberry—which is a great fruit to try, since it has a lot of natural pectin. The pectin keeps the ice cream smooth and thick without any additional thickeners. I’ve also used cucumbers instead of fruit for a cucumber-mint spin: highly recommended as the final note of a steamy day.
Here’s a basic formula for 1 1/2 quarts:
1 cup chopped fruit, frozen if possible
3 cups milk (I use So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk for some vegan guests, but 2% cow’s milk is great too)
1/2 cup to 1 cup sugar or simple syrup, to taste (for the cucumber-mint variety, see recipe below)
1/2 cup Greek-style plain yogurt (optional)
Blend together with a blender or immersion blender until smooth. Strain through a sieve, and pour immediately into an ice cream maker. Churn until frozen according to manufacturer’s directions.
Cucumber-Mint Simple Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
Skin peelings from 1 unwaxed cucumber
Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat. When the sugar dissolves and the syrup begins to burble, reduce the heat and let it thicken for 2 to 3 minutes. When the syrup is thicker and somewhat slow-moving in the pan, add the cucumber peelings and mint. Stir, and let infuse off the heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and cool completely. This is an excellent addition to iced tea or cocktails.
Stay cool out there,
Labels: cucumber, dessert, frozen, fruit, ice cream, mint, simple syrup, summer, vegan