Sunday, July 24, 2011

Simple Summer Ice Cream & It's Healthy!

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to ice cream. I have dreamed of opening an ice cream store for much of the past 7 years but with all the food activism work, parenting and focus on healthy food I haven't managed to give myself the permission to make ice cream for a living...just for fun.

My first professional experience making ice cream was during a brief stint working at Gramercy Tavern in NYC. Dozens of egg yolks, cream sugar, herbs, fruit, tea, malt was a dream of richness; perfect custards, frozen into a soft creamy heap, chilled and served up within hours. No stabilizers, additives, just the essentials. For years I made ice creams at home based on those recipes. Experiements with herbs I'd grown or fruits I'd picked made for wonderful flavors to share with friends: raspberrry rhubard ripple, watermelon mint sorbet, cardamom orange pistachio brittle, or jasmine tea were among my favorites. It was great fun, although fattening and expensive.
These days, I'm often making ice cream as a last minute dessert, pulling my ice cream maker bowl from the freezer while preparing dinner, with no time to cook and chill a custard. If you are going to eat the ice cream within an hour or two of making it, there is no need for cream, egg yolks or custards. A blender, and an assortment of fruits, and a liquid of your choosing: milk, coconut milk, soy milk, juice all will suffice. Make a smoothie in the blender, add a little sweetener if desired, and pour into your ice cream maker. In about 30 minutes you will have delicious ice cream to enjoy, or put in a container in your freezer where it will hold for an hour or two before becoming very hard. 

For the best results, the smoothie should be thick and creamy, not watery. Sugar or other sweeteners, alcohol and fruits that don't freeze hard such as bananas, pineapple or mangoes all help to create a creamy ice cream, since they prevent the mixture from freezing as solid.

The lovely pink ice cream cone pictured here is similar to the strawberry coconut version below, but I added some brown sugar and banana for sweetness and creaminess.

Note: Foods taste less sweet once they are frozen. So your unfrozen puree should be slightly sweeter than the desired sweetness of your final frozen ice cream.

Here are a few simple no custard ice creams you can try:

Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Lemon Verbena and Blueberry Ice Cream

Chocolate and Banana Ice Cream - from David Lebovitz
photo credit: David Lebovitz

If you'd like a little NYC ice cream envy, just to torture yourself...check out this wonderful selection at the Smorgasburg, a great new outdoor food market (from the Brooklyn Flea). If you are in New England, there are endless independent ice cream shops...I'm sure you know more than one or two right?

And, if you've got any great ice cream tricks up your sleeve or favorite ice cream spots...
please share by commenting below!

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