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.

Mixed Berry Sorbet, No Sugar Added

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I used to think that blueberries were the milquetoast of the fruit world, a token bit of wild to justify uninspired pancakes or muffins. My first taste of blueberry sorbet disrupted this boredom. I ordered it because its deep jewel tone seemed so unexpected for this fruit. I think I needed to taste it to make sure it was really just blueberry and not a port wine granita. That blueberry sorbet had a perfect balance of tart and sweet. It was sophisticated yet could have guest starred as a limited Starburst flavor.

Sometime soon I will make a treat in which blueberries are the only fruit, but today I had a frozen blend of mixed berries that sufficed for the task of make a fruit puree (diet) sorbet. This blend had equal parts blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry.

The finished treat made two servings with 80 calories each, 8 grams of fiber, and no added sugar.

Mixed Berry Sorbet

Serves 2

2 cups mixed frozen berries

2 T water

2 packets Stevia (sweetens like 1/4 cup sugar)

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Scoop into small bowls and enjoy.

Grape Sorbet, or what to do with extra grapes

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I can’t recall a time my family actually finished a bag of fresh grapes. I buy them with the best of intentions and am usually delighted with their jewel tones and bright flavor. Somehow I forget to eat them myself or offer them as a snack, and invariably I will fish the crinkled remainder out of the fridge a fortnight later. This weekend I found a way to ensure that this bounty will actually get eaten eventually: wash, pluck, freeze, and then blend them into a sorbet.

Technically, this is not a sorbet, but instead a frozen fruit puree. It has just two ingredients, frozen seedless grapes and a small amount of water. To freeze the grapes, just rinse and pat them dry. Next pluck each grape off the stem and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for a day, thaw in the microwave for thirty seconds (frozen solid grapes don’t blend well at all, btw), and whip in a blender with a tablespoon of cold water until smooth.

This treat is ready to eat straight from the blender. It is tart, sweet, and refreshing. In this frozen form, all of the complexity of the grape’s flavor is apparent and can be savored slowly. It costs about 50 cents a serving.

Grape Sorbet

Makes 2 servings

2 cups frozen seedless grapes

1 T water

Thaw grapes for 30 seconds in microwave or for 15 minutes at room temperature. Put grapes and water in blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.

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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.