Easy Root Beer Ice Cream

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Today I discovered that simple ice cream can be made from a combination of milk, sweetener, and flavorings. This version is root beer and vanilla flavored. My daughter thinks this treat tastes very much like a root beer float.

Easy Root Beer Ice Cream

Makes 6 1/2 cup servings

3 cups 2% milk (lactose free milk may be used instead)

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 t root beer flavoring (I used LorAnn brand, available in craft stores)

3/4 t vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Since this ice cream is low fat without thickeners, I recommend enjoying it soft-serve style, right after churning is done.

Coconut Mint Ice Cream, Dairy Free with Banana Base

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I continue to experiment with the banana-based ice cream genre so well described at That Clean Life. With summer looming, I highly recommend this technique to anyone who has a blender or food processor and can tolerate bananas. This fruit has an opposite reaction to freezing compared to grapes, whose flavor amplifies with dropping temperature. Frozen pureed bananas have a neutral flavor that fades into the other ingredients mixed with it. Its pectin and fructose can lend the muscle of sugar and fat to an ice cream, and its masquerade is convincing. Deeply frozen, it melts like a full-fat ice cream on the tongue.

In this recipe, I found a tasty purpose for my leftover mint and shredded coconut.

Coconut Mint Ice Cream, Dairy Free with Banana Base

Makes 2 servings

2 medium sliced bananas, frozen

1/3 cup fresh mint

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Put bananas, mint, and vanilla extract in blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of container periodically. Empty into freezer container and stir in coconut. Harden in the freezer for an hour, scoop into bowls, and enjoy.

PB&J Banana Ice Cream – Dairy Free

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As I’ve been breaking in my new ice cream maker, I’ve noticed that none of the dairy mixtures I’ve tired have surpassed the smooth, impossibly tiny ice crystals I’ve achieved by pulverizing frozen fruit in a blender. This evening I decided to find out what would happen if I tried to make ice cream with a banana base (a technique described well at Bowl of Delicious). Apparently, the pectin in frozen bananas lends itself to a custard-like creaminess when processed into smoothness with a blender or food processor.

No ice cream maker is needed to make this recipe. It has just three ingredients. Any frozen berries can be used in place of the raspberries if that it is not your preferred “jelly” flavor.

PB&J Banana Ice Cream –┬áDairy Free

makes 6 1/2 cup servings

4 medium sliced bananas – frozen

1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed slightly

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, divided

Place bananas and raspberries in blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth, stopping and stirring several times so all of the fruit has a chance to be chopped. Add half of the peanut butter and pulse until it disappears into the fruit mixture. Empty mixture into a one quart freezer container and stir in the rest of the peanut butter, leaving ripples in the ice cream. Freeze for at least two hours to harden for serving.

Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

I’ve been tempted to buy an ice cream maker for several years, but I refrained from getting one until last week out of fear that such a device could enable an unprecedented body mass. As I did a bit of research on the categories of models available for home use, I noticed that ice cream making has very little to do with instant gratification. The old-fashioned ice-and-rock-salt machines produce a batch of soft ice cream in less than an hour, but I do not have a freezer large enough to harbor enough ice to make this option practical.

Getting a model with a frozen bowl looked to be the better option. These machines have a double-walled bowl filled with a sealed coolant solution that needs to be frozen solid before churning a batch. Since I have a KitchenAid Mixer, I considered getting the ice cream maker attachment, but my daughter noticed that the Cuisinart ICE-45 soft serve machine had a similar capacity with the added fun of extrusion into cones or bowls and automatic mix-in delivery.

I picked the ICE-45 for its fun factor, and it arrived over the weekend:

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Every time I get a new small appliance, I can’t resist testing if some of the recommendations in the owner’s manual should be taken seriously. I was one of those fools who had to see for myself that metal really should not be microwaved. With the ice cream maker, I learned that everything involved needs to be as cold as possible, especially the frozen bowl. The bowl really should be stored in a freezer for at least 24 hours between batches, unless your goal is to make a treat with the consistency of a melting milkshake.

Our first batch was the basic vanilla ice cream in the owner’s manual. My machine has a 1.5 quart capacity, and the ice cream recipes scaled for it tend to have 3 cups of liquid. The basic vanilla recipe had 3/4 cup of sugar, and the results were too sweet.

Today I tried making vanilla soft serve again, and the combination I used had a taste and texture that was quite similar to commercial ice cream stand soft serve vanilla. In the future, I plan on experimenting with lower fat, lower added sugar, and nondairy recipes. Today’s concoction was a bit indulgent, but I was glad the result was reasonably sweet. Learning to make an ice cream with smooth, tiny ice crystals is a challenge akin to baking a cake with tender crumb. It requires trial-and-error, and this trial produced decent crystals for a recipe that is not full fat.

Vanilla Soft Serve

Makes 10 1/2 cup servings

2 cups half and half

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup white sugar

1 t vanilla extract

dash salt

Mix all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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