The weather is warming and my thoughts have turned towards ice cream. There's something extra satisfying about whipping up your own frosty treats, but not everyone has an ice cream machine. Let's run through a few of our favourite frozen desserts that you can make without any special equipment.
A Classic, Scoopable Chocolate
Historically, my main problem with these "no ice cream maker" ice creams is texture; they just don't scoop, feel or melt like real ice cream, and it's off-putting. This creation from America's Test Kitchen looks, scoops and tastes just like the churned stuff, plus it only requires five ingredients, and is pretty simple to make. Check out the video above to see it in action.
There are two genius ingredients involved in this recipe. The first is instant coffee, which doesn't add coffee flavour so much as depth, making your chocolate ice cream taste dark and complex. The second, most important ingredient is sweetened condensed milk, which doesn't get grainy when frozen and retains a velvety, custard-like texture, even though you didn't make a proper custard.
Besides the six-hour freezing time, the whole process should take about 15 minutes. It's mostly a matter of melting, stirring and whipping. America's Test Kitchen recommends using a stand mixer to whip some cold cream to the soft peak stage, but I'm pretty sure you could manage it manually. (You look like you've been working out.)
Creamy, Dreamy Soft Serve
This DIY soft serve from ChefSteps is slightly more involved than the ATK version, but with it you can churn out a cloud-like frozen confection that is perfect for lazy summer evenings on the porch. Again, we have two ingredients that make this recipe really shine: Dry ice — which may sound exotic but is actually easily available for purchase and is fairly cheap — and nonfat dry milk powder, which my future ex-husband Chef Grant Crilly says "is the stuff that makes it nice and smooth and velvety".
Check out the full recipe here, but it's not too difficult a process. After mixing milk, sugar, thickened cream, milk powder, vanilla and salt, you get to take out your aggression on some chunks of frozen carbon dioxide. Wrap it up in a big towel or apron, and whack the heck out of it with something heavy until it's all sandy and powdery. Then you are ready to blend.
Now, for this next step, I would recommend using a stand mixer, as you are going to gradually add scoops of your crushed dry ice to the batter as it is being stirred continuously. The ice cream will start to look like a milkshake at first, but keep sprinkling in small scoops of the dry ice until it looks like soft serve. (I'm sure you know what this looks like.) Note: When I say "gradually add scoops of your crushed dry ice", I mean go more slowly than you think you need to; adding too much too quickly will cause the whole thing to boil over, which would be tragic and sticky.
Satisfy Your Inner Child With a Choco-Taco
So this isn't technically a recipe for ice cream, but it is a recipe for happiness, and I just feel like you really need to know about it. The above video actually shows you how to make three different ice cream truck-inspired treats, but I can't get past the DIY Choco-Taco.
You can use any ice cream you want for this (perhaps the chocolate recipe from above?) because the key to this is the waffle cone bowl. Take a bowl, coat the inside with maple syrup, turn it upside down on a plate and cover it with a napkin, and microwave for 30 seconds. Now you are free to mould it into a taco shell and fill it with ice cream. Roll it in some melted chocolate and peanuts for that classic Choco-Taco aesthetic. Speaking of maple syrup, I just had a great idea: Remember that whiskey-infused maple syrup we were talking about a while back? Use that to coat your waffle bowl. I didn't think there was anything better than a Choco-Taco, but it turns out it's a whiskey-infused Choco-Taco.
Bag Up a Batter
This method is so simple, you could get the kids involved. In fact, I highly recommend getting some energetic children in on this, at it requires about five to 10 minutes of active shaking, and children love shaking things, right?
To start, make a simple ice cream batter of milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt, and pour it into a plastic bag, making sure to get as much air out as possible. Next, take a bigger bag and fill it with a bunch of ice cubes and a bunch of salt. Why salt? Because it lowers the freezing point of the ice, helping the ice cream to firm up. (If those kids are still around, you can use this as an opportunity to science them about freezing point depression.) Put the small bag in the big bag, and shake, shake, shake until you have ice cream. Scoop that stuff out and enjoy.
This 'Ice Cream' Is Bananas
B-A-N-A-N-you get it. I usually have knee-jerk "get it away" reaction to anything I see labelled as "guilt-free", because I don't think people should feel guilty about putting food in their own body, so it took me a while to warm to this "guilt-free banana 'ice cream'".
The thing is though, I actually love bananas, particularly frozen ones, so this soft serve-inspired frozen treat was quite appealing to me. I tried it once and I have never looked back. The above video shows you five different ways to flavour this trendy treat, but I like to keep mine very simple (I honestly don't even measure).
I just take a couple of frozen bananas (chop before freezing to save trouble) and throw them in the food processor. Once they look like soft serve, scoop in a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and blend that up. I use extra ripe bananas, so they usually provide enough sweetness without any extra sugar being needed. If I'm feeling extra fancy, I may add a drizzle of maple syrup or a scoop of peanut butter, but usually plain chocolate is enough for me.
If you are not screaming for ice cream right about now, I'm not sure what to do with you. Now go forth, my friends: Go forth and fill your bellies with tasty frozen treats that you made yourself. Just be careful with the dry ice, that stuff can burn.