A crash course in ice cream making

Ice cream makers all come with manuals, and these all have some great recipes in them, but to really experiment, it might be good to see some basics, so here’s the GadgetGuy crash course with some of our own recipes for you to try.

With the warmer months coming, it’s good to get your head wrapped around making things that can not just cool you down, but tantalise your tastebuds.

Fresh off the back of a review we’ve just done on an ice cream maker, we figured it would be good to have a starting point for anyone interesting in making ice cream, because while the manuals for ice cream machines all have recipes in them, some of the best work comes from experimentation from a starting point.

It’s important to note that you don’t need an ice cream maker to make ice cream, but it helps tremendously. Without one, you’re rushing to the freezer to stir a mixture every five or ten minutes. With one, it does all the work, so you’re free to make the recipe, and then go off and do your own thing, coming back in a short time to have your treat.

This writer has been making ice cream for a number of years and it’s a hobby of his, so sharing some recipes and tips seems only fair, especially if it will encourage others to try their hand at making delicious desserts.

The important thing you need to know about ice cream is that it needs a base to start with. Once you have the base, you can add whatever flavour you want and churn an ice cream flavour. For instance, if you take a sweet cream base and add crumbled Oreo biscuits, you effectively get cookies and cream ice cream. If you just want basic vanilla, add vanilla essence to a sweet cream base. If it’s chocolate you’re after, add either condensed chocolate milk, melted chocolate, or cocoa powder. If you ever decide to make cheesecake ice cream, you essentially take a cheesecake mixture and combine it with the cream base.

Essentially, the base is key, and there are tons of recipes out there for sweet cream bases. You can make them in a saucepan and produce a warm custard, infusing the flavours over the stove, or you can do it cold, infusing the flavours with a hand-mixer or leaving it overnight in the fridge.

As an ice cream enthusiast, the mixture I use is a cold custard, in that you don’t use the saucepan at all, and you mix everything cold, leaving it to cook in the freezing temperatures of the ice cream maker.

For this example, we’re going to make peanut butter ice cream with chocolate, and we’ll do it by making a cold base first, and then mix the ingredients.

You’ll need two eggs, a cup of caster sugar, 300mls of cream, half a cup of milk, peanut butter, and chocolate broken down into chunks. You’ll also need a hand-mixer, and some bowls. If you have a stand-mixer, even better. I’m cheap, so I use a hand-mixer.

To start, we need the cream base, so do to this, we break the two eggs into a bowl and mix them until they’re nice, blended, and frothy.

There’s no need to separate the eggs here. You want the white and the yellow, and you want it blended together.

A tip for eggs in ice cream: the more eggs you have, the more smooth the ice cream is. Two seems to be a good guide, three is a smooth ice cream, and between four and six is what a lot of high grade restaurants use, though it’s not great for your health. Anything more than this can get silly, and also bring you closer to making egg nog than ice cream.

Now add the caster sugar, pouring it into the mixture while you use the mixer, making sure the sugar and the eggs become a slightly thickened mixture.

From here, add the cream, pouring this in while blending it all together, and then add some milk. Half a cup is all you should need, though you can add less if you need. Just like before, mix it all together.

Voila. You have a cold cream base.

You can use this to make practically any flavour you want, but we’re going to use it to make peanut butter and chocolate, so grab a tablespoon of your favourite smooth peanut butter and add it to the mixture.

Mix again, though make sure you mix in a bowl with plenty of height, as the thick peanut butter can sometimes spray as a mixer is breaking it down and churning with the liquid. You can add two spoons if you really like it peanut-buttery, but one should be plenty. If it’s too peanut buttery, add a splash of milk and mix to mellow it out.

Once the mixture is combined, you should have a soupy sweet peanut butter blend, ready to be churned, so switch on the ice cream maker and churn that sucker.

If you have an ice cream maker that encourages you to add mix-ins, wait for the call out so that you can add the chocolate chunks to the mix near the end of that churn.

Never add mix-ins to the beginning of the churn, to any ice cream you’re churning. Regardless of what machine you’re using, excess chunks will often jam machines and reduce the functionality of the stirring paddle, which reduces the effectiveness of the machine and means the right size ice crystals can’t form. Add the mix-ins close to when the churn is finished, and if you feel like waiting, you can add them as you’re taking the ice cream out, using a spoon or fork to help spread them.

When you’re done, you should have peanut butter ice cream, and if you’ve added the chocolate, it will be peanut butter chocolate ice cream, a flavour that was practically demolished when it was made for GadgetGuy staffers this month.