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Warm weather is just around the corner, but heck, even if it wasn’t we all deserve a frozen treat every once in a while!
If you’re interested in exploring the (dangerously decadent) world of homemade ice cream, but don’t want to commit to a bulky ice cream machine hogging your kitchen counter, you’ve come to the right place.
The fact is, you can enjoy this creamy treat using nothing other than the humble kitchen blender. And the best part of it being homemade is you can personalize it to match your exact taste. The technique also offers you full control over the quality and ingredients.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of making some top-tier blender ice cream. We’ll explore the necessary ingredients, detailed step-by-step instructions, and offer some customization tips that will really get your creative culinary juices flowing.
Let’s get cracking.
The four parts to making a great ice cream
There are a ton of options when it comes to making ice cream in a blender. Before we explore some of our faovirte ways you can elevate your ice cream game, let’s talk basics.
To start, there are four fundamental parts to a well-balanced homemade ice cream:
1) The liquid base
There are several liquid bases that can be used, depending on personal preference and of course dietary restrictions. Here are the most versatile ones you should consider:
- Dairy – This is the way to make traditional ice cream, and is typically made using whole milk or heavy cream. We prefer a combination of the two ingredients, which results in a deliciously creamy texture that’s not over-the-top in richness.
- Non-dairy Milk – If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you’ll probably want to check out this blog post. In short though, here are some excellent substitutes to dairy: almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
- Condensed Milk – Sweetened condensed milk can be used as a standalone liquid base or in combination with other liquids.
- Coconut cream – Coconut cream is obtained from the thick, creamy layer of coconut milk. It’s one of our favorite options for dairy-free ice cream, as it provides both a rich texture and subtle coconut flavoring to the finished product.
2) The primary flavour
This is going to be the workhorse of the show, and the flavour possibilities are pretty much endless. Below are the tried and true prime flavours.
- Vanilla – Classic and timeless, vanilla is one of the most beloved ice cream flavors. You can use vanilla extract or even scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean for a more intense flavor.
- Chocolate – Another classic choice, chocolate ice cream is rich, indulgent, and pretty much universally loved. You can use cocoa powder or melted chocolate to achieve that deep chocolate flavor.
- Strawberry – Made with fresh strawberries or strawberry puree, this fruity flavor is refreshing and delightful, especially during the summer months.
- Mint Chocolate Chip – A combination of mint flavor and chocolate chips, this flavor is cool, refreshing, and another great summer option.
- Cookies and Cream – Crush or crumble your chocolate (or vanilla cookies) into your creamy ice cream base.
- Coffee – Stir brewed coffee or espresso into your mix to infuse it with a rich coffee taste.
- Salted Caramel – The combination of sweet caramel and a hint of salt creates a heavenly flavor. You can make your own caramel sauce or use store-bought for convenience. And if you’re able to get your hands on Ghirardelli’s Premium Caramel Sauce where you live, consider yourself lucky!
- Peanut Butter – Creamy peanut butter can be swirled into the ice cream base to create a delicious and indulgent nutty flavor.
- Coconut – If you’re going for a more tropical flavors, coconut ice cream is a great choice. Use coconut milk or cream to infuse the base.
3) The sweetener
There are several types of sweeteners to choose from. Again it will come down to personal preference and dietary restrictions.
- Granulated Sugar – Granulated sugar is the most common sweetener used in homemade ice cream. Mainly because it dissolves so easily and provides a predictable sweetness to the base. You can use white sugar, or if you’re looking to add subtle variations to the flavor profile, try brown or raw sugar.
- Liquid Sweeteners – Liquid sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar, can also be used. Keep in mind that liquid sweeteners may affect the texture and freezing point of the ice cream, so you might need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
- Alternative Sweeteners – If you’re looking for alternative sweeteners, consider options like stevia or monk fruit sweetener. These sweeteners are low in calories and have minimal impact on blood sugar levels. And although it comes down to personal choice, we stay away from erythritol. Although it’s also considered a low calorie sweetener, recent studies show a linkage to blood clot formation.
- Sweetened condensed milk – Sweetened condensed milk is a convenient option as it can serve as both a sweetener and adding creaminess to the liquid base.
- Fruit Pureé – If you’re making fruit-flavored ice cream, you can use the natural sweetness of the fruit itself. Puree the fruit and add it to the base, adjusting the sweetness to your preference with sugar or another sweetener if needed.
4) The accent flavor
This is the part that separates the amateurs from the pros. The accent flavor is probably the most important step when it comes to adding depth, complexity, and a unique taste to your homemade ice cream. Here is a shortlist of some excellent accent flavors to enhance your ice cream:
- Citrus Zest – Grated zest from citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, or limes add a burst of bright, refreshing flavor to level up your ice cream. Use organic, unwaxed fruits for the best flavor. Also be sure not to over-zest in order to avoid the bitter white pith.
- Ginger – Ginger adds a zingy and spicy kick to ice cream. It pairs exceptionally well with fruit flavors like peach, pear, or pineapple, as well as chocolate and caramel.
- Nuts and Nut Butters – Chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios will provide a satisfying crunch and texture. While nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, or hazelnut spread can also be swirled into the base to create pockets of gooey goodness.
- Fresh Herbs – Herbs like basil, mint, lavender, or rosemary can infuse your ice cream with a subtle, aromatic flavor. For a more intense flavor, steep the herbs in the base or blend them directly into the mixture.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a classic spice that complements a wide range of ice cream flavors by adding warmth and a subtle sweetness. Be sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, as it’s got a lighter, brighter flavor than the other types. Plus it’s packed with antioxidants.
- Nutmeg – Nutmeg has a warm, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor. It pairs well with vanilla, chocolate, and fruit flavors such as apple or pumpkin.
- Cardamom – Cardamom has a unique aromatic and citrusy flavor that adds a touch of sophistication to ice cream. It pairs well with primary flavours like vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, and citrus.
- Chili Powder – A pinch of chili powder will provide a subtle spicy kick to ice cream, especially when combined with chocolate or tropical fruit flavors.
- Floral Water – Floral waters like rosewater or orange blossom water can provide a delicate, fragrant note to your ice cream. Use them sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors.
- Savory Elements – Savory elements includes things like a hint of sea salt, balsamic reduction, or a touch of olive oil. For example, salted caramel ice cream with a drizzle of balsamic reduction is HEAVEN. Why? Because the sweet and savoury contrast pairs up beautifully. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Step-by-step: The best blending method
You’re about to see that you don’t need fancy equipment to create a delicious batch of ice cream. Your trusty kitchen blender and some patience is all that’s needed.
This guide will lead you step-by-step in crafting some homemade orange ice cream, but is ready to be substituted with any of the ingredients and flavor combos that we’ve already covered above.
Step 1: Gather your ingredients
The basic homemade ice cream involves heavy cream, whole milk, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Although there are also healthy variations you can use (discussed above) we’ll stick with the basic recipe today.
Step 2: Combine and heat
Combine the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Heat this mixture just until hot but not boiling. This creates a smooth, creamy base that will freeze well without forming large ice crystals.
Step 3: The first blend
After the base is well mixed and slightly heated, transfer the mixture to your blender.
Blend on low speed until it’s well combined and frothy. This step ensures that all elements are perfectly mixed. This will be essential to creating that smooth texture for the final product.
Step 4: Chill (but don’t freeze)
Pour the blended mixture into a heatproof bowl and allow it to cool down to room temperature.
Once it has cooled, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.
Step 5: The second blend
After letting the ice cream mix thoroughly chill, we’re going to blend the mixture a second time.
Pour it back into the blender and blend on medium speed for about one minute. This introduces a bit of air into the mixture, and gives the ice cream its characteristic light and airy texture. Be careful not to over-blend as this will lead to ice crystals.
Step 6: Add the accent flavor
Fold in in your flavorings and mix-ins, while the ice cream is in the blender. Whether it’s chocolate chips for a classic taste, or a splash of orange juice and citrus zest for a refreshing twist, the sky’s the limit.
Remember, the blender will break up any add-ins, so if you want larger pieces in your ice cream, it’s better to stir them in by hand after blending.
Step 7: Freeze
The next step involves the freezing process. Pour the final ice cream mixture into a lidded, freezer-safe container. Place it in the freezer for at least four hours, or until the ice cream is fully set and firm.
A shallow container will speed up the freezing process, but any container will do.
Step 8: Soften and serve
When ready to serve, it’s best to let the ice cream sit out for a few minutes at room temperature before scooping. This makes it easier to serve and creates the perfect, slightly softened consistency.
Top it with your favorite finishers such as hot fudge, caramel, sprinkles, or nuts, and enjoy.
Bonus: Making ice cream in a blender using frozen fruit
If you’re trying to keep the ingredient list as small as possible, consider making your homemade ice cream using frozen fruit as the base, instead of heavy cream or milk.
Simple blend your frozen fruits of choice until they reaches a smooth consistency. Should you need added sweetness, you can incorporate a natural sweetener like honey. Enhance the flavor profile with additional ingredients like vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or even spices, and blend until thoroughly mixed.
And if you’re really trying to go the minimal route, be sure to check out the video below. Although personally, we wouldn’t recommend going this route unless you have a blender with a bullet proof motor, and efficient cooling, such as the Vitamix 7500.