The only Ice-cream recipe you will ever need
When I think back to the time I spent in US, my memory of this summery day in Baltimore sometimes comes back to haunt me. To soothe my lonely broken heart I had decided to walk home so I could spend the last dollar I had on me, at an icecream parlour I had been eyeing for a long time. Taking on every decadent topping imaginable, I ordered the largest serving I could and longingly watched the server mix up the loot deliciously. Every moment of the complicated mixing process elevated my sense of anticipation and excitement till I finally got the treasure in my own hands and walked out with my trophy… only to trip on the doorstep. I can still see that ice cream cone in graphic detail – spinning in slow motion and then laying splattered at my feet…all before I could get a single lick. Yep, greed goeth before a fall.
If tears are the words to express love, I’ve written volumes on ice-cream. Another of my lasting memories is that of celebratory ice cream sessions at home that would often end up with me as well as the ice cream dissolving into a wet puddle. Things would begin with me eating my ice-cream at a snail’s pace, hiding away in my corner, waiting for the dessert to melt into a smooth fluffy puddle that I could lick, drop by drop, making each serving last as long as it could. The evening would rapidly deteriorate from ecstasy to heartbreak as my dad and sis , having gobbled up their share, would start eyeing, threatening and eventually stealing from the little saucer I was hoarding. Tragedy notwithstanding, for me, that was the only way to eat ice cream. Slowly. Drawing out each moment. Savouring the smooth, velvety, creamy, almost fluffy texture that was the magic of this genius dessert.
So yes, I’ve had a one sided relationship with ice cream. Unrequited love of the most painful order. Despite the tragic memories it evokes, devoted to this elusive dessert, I’ve tried to replicate this magic in my kitchen a zillion times, for well over 2 and a half decades. Unfortunately, from attempts that started when I was about 7 (usually resulted in something akin to frozen roohafza) to the ones I made a couple of decades later (involving french custard, endless whipping and broken arms), most tries lead to much ice and not much creaminess. In between were versions that involved everything from water to whipped cream, milk, kesar barfi (don’t ask), weikfield custards, chocolate pudding, mango milkshake, whipped egg whites and what have you. The inevitable conclusion seemed to be: no ice-cream machine = no churning = rogue icicles in your more-ice-and-less-cream dessert. And then last year, I finally hit pay dirt – My healthy, dairy free banana ice cream. Creamy – check. Scoop-able – check. Sweet – check. Cold – check.
And yet, that lingering nagging feeling that in this one dish I had met my waterloo, taunted. The banana version was delicious but let’s face it, it was banana-ey and there was no undoing that. I had to find a way to that perfectly smooth, icicle free dessert that could lend itself to all the crazy flavours I wanted. The velvety dessert I spent much of my youth hankering or fighting after. But every cook has her day. And so, my dear readers, 2 decades of trials hence, I finally share with you a recipe I am pretty sure can mend bridges, rebuild relationships, change destinies. All those years of heartbreak notwithstanding, now, when I’m not that interested in a relationship with dairy anymore, I’m feeling the love. And its soft, rich, fluffy and satin-smooth. And nope, not a single heartbreaking icicle in sight.
Homemade Ice Cream
The best (or depending on wether your waistline enters the equation, the worst) part of this ice cream is that its is incredibly easy, comes together in pretty quickly and is infinitely adaptable. The basic formula is just 3 ingredients but the technique is pretty foolproof and the results fantastic. I have had fun playing with this in all kinds of ways and have loads of other mad ideas up my sleeve that I want to play with. So far the Cucumber and Vanilla, Cocoa and Caramalised Banana and Cinnamon Caramel have made me many friends.
Basic Formula – Vanilla
Condensed Milk – 1 can (400gms)
Whipping Cream – 2 cups
Vodka or any alcohol – 3 Tablespoons
Vanilla extract – 1 -2 teaspoon or even better, seeds scraped from one whole vanilla pod
Note: You need to use high fat whipping cream here. I confess I have in a pinch used Amul after removing excess water and the thin part of the cream from thick cream. It’s easy to do this as long as you chill the cream, carefully drain out the water and then spoon out the thick cream on top that you want to use. Having said that, using whipping cream or double cream is your safest bet.
Note: Small though the amount of alcohol in this recipe is, its one of the secrets to the icicle free texture so try not to skip it. Vodka works well since its flavorless and will lend itself to any flavour you want to create. Feel free to replace it with whisky, rum or flavoured liqueurs like Baileys or Cointreau. Just remember to make sure it pairs well with other flavouring agents you maybe using.
1. To start with, make sure the cream, the vessel in which you plan to whip it and the whisk are all cold. I pop all of these in the freezer for about 20 minutes and that works like a charm. In summers you would do even better to immerse your whipping bowl in a ice bath as you whisk your cream. I would strongly recommend using an electric beater like a cake mixer though strong arms and determination should help make whisks works in a pinch. Now, whisk the cream till it thickens well and forms soft peaks when you lift the beater/whisk. If using an electric mixer, start on medium speed to prevent splattering, then speed up. Initially it may take some time for the cream to start thickening, but if your cream is whipping cream or high fat dairy cream and is cold enough, you will definitely see it starting to thicken. At this point, slow down and make sure that you stop whisking the cream before it gets too stiff, splits and turns into butter. Trust me, you do not want this to happen and turn your icecream to turn into a lumpy, grainy irretrievable mess.
2. Mix the condensed milk with the vanilla, vodka and any other flavourings you want to add. Fold this mixture carefully into the whisked cream without losing too much of the air. Check out this video for a quick demo on how to fold or mix without losing the fluffiness you have achieved with all that laborious beating.
3. Pour your ice-cream into a box with a lid (I use my bread loaf pans) and freeze for atleast 12 hours.
– You can add upto 3/4 cup of nuts, cookies, caramelised fruits and other yummies for texture. Add this in carefully after you have folded in the cream
– Add upto 4 tablespoons of liquid in the form of extracts, reduced juices, liqueurs etc. If you feel that this is thinning the mixture too much, add in some more whipped cream. Just remember, more the water content, greater the chances of icicle formation.