- It’s the balance (between fat and sugar) that does it
- Leave the custard to stand overnight
- Melted ice cream can be “reworked”
- Take it out of the freezer in time
- Store in an airtight container
Ice cream is an experience in its own right, but it’s also the standard accompaniment to everything from pies, fondants, waffles and crêpes to poached fruit and fresh strawberries. Creamy, cold, flavor-packed ice cream is often a welcome contrast to hot and crunchy elements on the dessert plate.
Why does ice cream taste so good?
While we otherwise insist on heat and room temperature to get flavors and aromas to come into their own, we love ice cold ice cream despite the fact that the cold dampens the flavor. It’s the cooling mouth-feel and texture that we go for. It’s best not to serve ice cream too cold. Take it out a while before you intend to scoop it out.
The right temperature for ice cream
At 12°C/53°F ice cream is perfectly soft on the plate without running off the edge. Serve immediately.
Choosing ice cream
According to the professionals, there’s no reason to buy ready-made ice cream; unless you’re buying it from someone who made it themselves, that is. But if you need to buy some ice cream from a shop to go with your dessert, have a look at the ingredients.
What goes into proper ice cream
Proper vanilla ice cream, for example, contains sugar, egg, milk, cream, natural vanilla and possibly a dash of glucose (which is a form of natural sugar) nothing else. No artificial flavors or colorings and no stabilizers. With the right ingredients, it can be almost as good as the stuff you make at home.
Ice cream makers do the job
If you like ice cream, an ice cream maker is a wise investment. These days there’s a wide range of exclusive machines and ice cream concepts out there, but for domestic use you’ll get a long way with the simple models with a section you store in the freezer. That way, you’re always prepared to start a batch of ice cream for four people.
Without a machine, you need to take the ice cream out of the freezer and beat it a few times as it freezes. That’s time that could be much better spent doing something else – making a nougatine to decorate your ice cream with, for example.
You can get a long way with an ordinary ice cream maker.
– Martin Isaksson, Chokladfabriken
The right balance for the right consistency
You control the consistency of your ice cream by the amounts of fat and sugar.
- If you’re adding alcohol to an ice cream custard, for example, you need to up the fat content and reduce the amount of sugar. (The alcohol will also mean the custard takes longer to freeze/thicken)
- If you add more sugar, e.g. in the form of crushed sweets or other very sweet ingredients, you will also need more fat relatively speaking.
- Hazelnuts and other nuts are fatty themselves and so need a little more sugar.
Experiment with making your own ice cream but do it when you’ve got enough time to try again if it goes wrong. It’s a good idea to rely on a recipe the first ten times or so.
Heat custard until bacteria-free
Egg in ice cream makes it creamier. Heat the ice cream custard to 84°C/183°F to make sure that any bacteria in the egg are firmly dead. Coagulation begins at the same temperature. But keep an eye on the thermometer – if the custard gets any hotter, it can split.
Parfait is frozen mousse
Parfait is like a frozen mousse, an airy mixture which is then frozen. While ice cream has to be kept moving, parfait can be left alone during the freezing process. The word “parfait” means “perfect” or “complete”. Not too daunting then….
Sorbet is sugar, water and fruit
Put simply, sorbet is sugar, water and fruit. But the fruit can also be coffee, matcha tea, mint or other flavors, and the sugar and the fruit can be replaced with chocolate. “Sorbet” comes from the Latin for “to sip” (if anyone was wondering).
Granita is flavored ice
Granita is flavored ice that you scrape into a “slush”. Granitas tend to appear as a break in the meal to cleanse the taste buds before the next course. But they can also be part of a dessert. “Granita” refers to “grains” or “crumbs”, that kind of thing.
Gelato is Italian ice cream
Gelato means ice cream in Italian but is used outside Italy as a name for a particular kind of Italian ice cream. It’s become trendy around the world in recent years. Gelato is often milk-based and has a fat content of about 8%, in other words, much less fat than in what we consider normal ice cream, which has a fat content of up to 20%.
Basically, the luxurious feel of Italian ice cream isn’t down to a high fat content but to a perfect balance between fat and sugar to get the prefect consistency.
Does your ice cream keep crystalizing? Use glucose
A splash of glucose in the mixture stops your ice cream crystalizing. Glucose is a sugar solution that you can buy at a pharmacy or in the supermarket baking aisle. If it’s hard to get the viscous solution out of the pack, dip it in hot water.
Choose strong-tasting chocolate for ice cream
If you’re making chocolate ice cream, choose chocolate with a strong flavor as the cold will tone the flavor down. Try Andoa noir from Valrhona, for example. It’s a lively, organic, intense chocolate with a cocoa content of 70%.
Ice cream custard tastes better the next day
If the custard spends a night in the fridge, the flavor of the vanilla pod will be able to develop.
Ice cream left over? Time for round two!
In dessert kitchens there are special ice cream machines for “reworking” yesterday’s ice cream, in other words, melting it down, remixing and refreezing the ice cream without it forming ice crystals. At home you can leave the leftovers to defrost completely overnight in the fridge before pouring the custard back into the ice cream machine again. You can reuse it once or twice without affecting the flavor.
Storing ice cream
Ice cream should be kept in tightly sealed packaging or it will dry out. You can’t store ice cream too cold. In professional kitchens, it’s often -20°C/-4°F. Just make sure the packaging is tightly sealed so it doesn’t get freezer burn. A home freezer works perfectly well for storing ice cream.
Take it out of the freezer in time
Taking ice cream out in time is a dessert art in its own right. You can’t make beautiful scoops of ice cream, “quenelles” or other shapes if the surface is so hard that you can barely scrape it with the scoop. In restaurants, this problem is solved with a serving fridge set to a constant temperature of -12°C/-10°F. When ice cream is at this temperature, all you have to do is dip the scoop (or tablespoons) in hot water and roll perfect balls.
The consistency varies between different types of ice cream, but once you’ve made your own versions several times, you'll know the order to take them out of the freezer. While the ice cream waits to become perfect, you can focus on the decoration.
Ice cream shouldn’t be served too cold.
– Christophe Buchet, Bleck
Recipe for vanilla ice cream
This recipe was created by Martin Isaksson, possibly Sweden’s foremost chocolatier (and world champion with the Swedish national culinary team, etc.) You’ll find this and other professional recipes in his book Chokladfabrikens desserter.
Serves about 8
14 egg yolks (275g)
1 vanilla pod
400ml whipped cream
2 1/2 tbsps glucose (35g)
- Beat the sugar and egg yolks together. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod.
- Pour all the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer to 84°C.
- Leave to cool, put in the fridge and leave for 12–24 hours.
- Run through an ice cream maker until it has reached the right consistency. It usually takes an hour or so.