In mid-2010, on a blistering summer day, we bought an ice cream maker on a whim. My daughters were ice cream crazy teenagers, and we all agreed that the ice cream maker would pay for itself after building an archive of homemade ice cream recipes.
Our Cuisinart ice cream maker is not the most silent of machines but it has never let us down. We still have it and it still works so we’re not planning on replacing it with a newer model any time soon.
Is an ice cream maker necessary?
No, not really. It is possible to make ice cream without one. I tried that a long time ago. I made the custard, put it in the freezer and, as it hardened, I stirred it every hour or so to prevent those unwanted ice crystals from forming. And it was terribly hard. My arm muscles simply weren’t cut out for the job of repeatedly mixing semi-frozen ice cream with a wooden spoon.
So, we bought the Cuisinart ice cream maker. We make custard on the stovetop, cool and chill it, then dump it in the ice cream maker. Thirty minutes, give or take ten minutes depending on the ingredients, is all it takes to get the ice cream to soft-serve stage.
We transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and let it harden some more. No more mixing necessary. No aching arms.
Custard? What custard?
Making ice cream begins with a custard. If you just freeze flavored cream, you won’t get that thick and creamy texture that makes ice cream so desirable. So, you make a custard first. Egg yolks are tempered with heated cream and milk, and they are cooked together until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
What about frozen yogurt and sorbet?
Frozen yogurt and sorbet do not require a custard but you can make them using an ice cream maker. Most ice cream makers are actually labeled to say that they can make frozen yogurt and sorbet too.
With frozen yogurt, just dump chilled yogurt in the machine, add chopped fruits or whatever other ingredients you like, let the machine churn, and you get frozen yogurt.
When making sorbet, you puree fruit, chill it without straining, and you process it in the machine just as if you were making ice cream. If the fruit puree is not sweet enough, you add honey or simple syrup.