Icecream. Is there anything better?
Lately I’ve been thinking about icecream more than usual. Could be something to do with being back to Southern Hemisphere Summer. Or maybe it was the amazing gorgonzola icecream or the savoury truffle icecream I experience at elBulli last month. Anyway I digress.
As a minimalist, I’ve been feeling a little guilty about owning an icecream machine. I know I should get rid of it. I mean it’s hard to justify as an essential, no matter how critical icecream is to your well being. But I haven’t been able to part. The thought of not being able to make creamy icy desserts scares me a little. So to ease my mind, I’ve been focusing on finding ways to make icecream without the machine. I’m still not ready to find it another home, but with my discoveries, I am a step closer.
i. Use the power of cocoa powder
I’m not 100% sure of the science behind this but there’s something about cocoa powder that retards ice crystal formation. So if you make a chocolate custard base heavy in cocoa powder and pop it in the freezer overnight, you end up with rich lucious creamy smooth chocolate heaven that you’d never guess had skipped it’s date with the icecream machine. See HERE for a more detailed recipe.
ii. Whip it, Italian style
Semifreddo, or semi-cold, is the Italian answer to not having an icecream machine. Simply whip your cream until it is light and airy and stir through your custard base. Pop in a container and freeze overnight. The only tricky things is to make sure you remember to remove the semifreddo from the freezer for it to soften slightly into creamy goodness before you serve.
To be honest I’ve always been slightly disappointed with my own semifreddo attempts but our friends at Gourmet Traveller have a tempting looking recipe along with some interesting icecream facts.
iii. Make granita
This is the ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ solution to the icecream machine dilemma. Rather than being a slave to smooth fine creamy textures in your frozen desserts why not embrace a chunky rustic icyness of a good old granita.
Just puree some fruit and sugar. Freeze overnight, stirring occasionally to break up the ice and serve with a dollup of marscapone or double cream for richness. For a more detailed recipe see my cold treats post HERE.
iv. Customise with the profesionals
This might be stretching the friendship on the ‘home made’ but there’s nothing wrong with getting some good quality commercially produced icecream and adding your own touches.
Leftover crumbled Christmas pudding stirred through slightly softened vanilla icecream and re frozen is a brilliant way to use up festive treats.
Add honey roasted macadamias, pistachio nougat, dulche de leche sauce or even a little Ben-&-Jerry-inspired chocolate chip cookie dough to icecream from the shop and I can guarantee your guests won’t be complaining that you didn’t make it all from scratch.
v. Puree frozen fruit
I posted last year about one of my all time favourite frozen desserts – raspberry gelato. Just combine frozen berries sugar and cream in a food processor and serve in chilled glasses. So easy. So creamy. So good.
Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make an easy vanilla icecream. It’s taken a while but I finally figured it out – just peel and freeze some bananas to use as your base. Then puree, flavour and serve. So easy. So creamy. So good. So good for you.
And if you’re like me and not too keen on banana, just choose almost unripe ones and go heavy on the flavourings. The lovely creamy texture will be worth it. Trust me.
[almost] instant malted vanilla icecream
The [almost] disclaimer comes in because you need to freeze the banana first. But as long as you have that simple step complete, instant icecream is at your fingertips. I highly recommend making sure you have frozen bananas on hand at all times.
I have a thing for malted milk powder and love the creamy maltiness that it gives this super easy dessert. But you could easily give it a miss and use a litle icing (powedered) sugar to sweeten it instead.
Feel free to use this as a base for more exotic icecream creations. A handful of chilled chocolate chunks or nuts stirred in at the end would be lovely. Or take it a step further and make some hazelnut praline like the one HERE.
For a dairy free alternative, experiment with fruit juice such as orange juice or passionfruit to replace the cream and a little sugar for sweetness if needed.
Best if eaten within an hour or two of pureeing as the banana browns off.
3T malted milk powder
1t vanilla extract
1/4C pouring cream
PEEL your bananas, break into chunks and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for at least 5 hours or up to a couple of months.
When you’re ready for dessert, place all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.