Jul 26, 2013

Tips and Tricks to Make Creamy No Churn Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine

Check out BBC Food's egg and cream base no churn ice cream recipe

Lately I've been obsessed with ice cream. So I figured it's time to develop a  a recipe that doesn't require an ice cream machine.  We actually have one which we used to make our low sugar vanilla ice cream, but since we don't have an ice machine on our fridge, we have to clear out a lot of our freezer and slowly make ice cubes in our trays, dump out the ice and rock salt in our bath tub and hope we can keep Mr cat out who is beyond curious about the whole process.  It's really only something I'd like to do a few times a year, but I'd rather eat ice cream much more often than that!  I've been researching and playing with recipes all week.  I go to bed thinking of ice cream and my first thought in the mourning is "I better check out how my ice cream did overnight".  Let me tell you that helps get my lazy butt out of bed!

I started my first batch with a whole avocado, 1/4 cup milk alternative, and two bananas as my base (along with flavourings) using the stir in between freezing method (most recipes call for stirring every 1/2 hr, but I did every 1hr because our freezer doesn't freeze very fast).  It was very heavy, not very creamy and a little icy. It was only semi frozen after freezing over night, but the next day it was hard and icy, but still scoopable. Hmmm....there has to be a better way I thought and went back to researching recipes.  I found a lot of cool tips and tricks that of course I had to share with you!

The Vanilla Bean Blog: frangelico coffee no churn ice cream recipe
Tips and Tricks I Learned to Make No Churn Ice Cream

Most recipes that don't call for an ice cream machine tell you to freeze it for 1/2 hour and then stir the mixture and basically repeat until ideal texture, or to create a frozen mixture in a high speed blender and serve immediately for soft serve ice cream.  While the soft serve method can be good, it's still not the same as ice cream.  And the human churning method can work with the right recipe, I frankly don't love the ideal of having to check and stir something every 1/2 hour.  Not unless there's a better way.  Luckily there is.  If you use a recipe with stabilizers and a large percentage of ingredients that don't freeze, and start with a cold mixture, you can just simply make your batch of ice cream stick it in the freezer over night and enjoy it the next day.  It's like crock pot cooking, you have to wait along time for the end product, but it takes a lot less work to make.  Love that!



Use Stabilizers
Since I was getting curious about the chemistry in making ice cream.  I decided to check the ingredients on the ice cream in our freezer (whole foods organic), and say that in addition to the obvious ingredients (cream, sugar, etc), it used guar gum and carob bean gum.  Curious I looked into what this does in ice cream.   Apparently they are natural stabilizers, which help to stop ice crystals from forming and to give a more creamy texture.  Almost all commercial ice cream uses stabilizers.  The most easiest to find stabilizers for the home cook are gelatin (not vegan!), corn starch, xanthan gum, and guar gum.  I had 4 of the above already in my pantry (all but guar gum), so I decided to try xanthan gum, since I knew cornstarch and gelatin need heat to work and I was making a raw recipe.
 
Xanthan Gum
I learned that you need to be careful with xanthan  gum, because a little can go a long way, use to much and it can turn out like chewing gum!  Use just enough and you'll have softer creamier ice cream.  Since Ice Cream Geek's experiments with it showed that 1/8 tsp was the winner I decided to start with that in my chocolate kahlua gelato recipe, which turned out good.  I'll have to try it now without to truly know if it helped or not. EHow has calculations about how xanthan gum to use in existing recipes.  If you don't know where to find xanthan gum, I purchased mine from Essential Depot (I have no affiliation with them) online to use for my gluten free recipes.  I also bought zinc oxide from them for making my sunscreen, with no problems.

Gelatin and Corn Starch
If your heating up you mix anyways you may want to try adding organic (so that it's not GMO) corn starch to you mix.  That's one of the secret ingredient in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams she uses 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp per 1 quart.  Or you can try gelatin, just know that it has a tendacy (according to what I've heard online) to get a bit clumpy.  I'm sure if you do experience this, with time and practice it would work just fine. 


Use Ingredients That Don't Freeze

Picture freezing only coconut or almond milk in your freezer.  What would happen?  It would start to turn to ice right?  So in order to make no churn ice cream we need most of the ingredients to be ones that come close to freezing but will never freeze completely.  The higher the percentage of these ingredients the less likely it is to turn out icy. 

Here are some good options:
  • fats (coconut, avocado, dairy, egg yolks, nut butters)
  • creamy low moisture dairy (condensed milk, low or full fat cream cheese (not fat free), ricotta, and cottage cheese), the more moisture in the dairy the more likely it is to freeze, so your best bet is cream cheese, (Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream uses 1.5 oz per pint)
  • alcohol (can also add a wide variety of flavours an extra bonus)
  • sugar
Start With Ingredients as Cold as You Can Get It

Ice cream made by an ice cream machine is made by getting the mixture as cold as possible as fast as possible while churning (stirring) it.  So to mimic this effect it helps to start off with having your ingredients as cold as you can get it before starting.  For example in my Chocolate Kahlua Gelato recipe I used frozen avocados and bananas, and chilled (in the fridge) milk alternatives for mine.  Make sure to not freeze dairy products (with the exception of yogurt) because it can effect the texture.

How I Fixed my Recipe to be Less Icy and More Creamy
As you might recall in my first batch of ice cream described above, my ice cream turned out too icy, not creamy, and I could tell that I used avocado (had to high of a fat content).  My problem was that  I knew the only reason that it wasn't frozen solid using this method was the high fat content and the bananas, and since it tasted too heavy of avocados I couldn't add any more avocado!  So I decided to actually reduce the amount of avocado (which also dropped the fat content and calories of this recipe), and add some alcohol in it's place.  Note that the base of my recipe now had more bananas in it and less avocados.  This did the trick!

I left my chocolate kahlua gelato in the freezer for two days to see how the freezing would compare to my first attempt at ice cream.  One my first attempt it  went from being only semi frozen the next day to frozen but still scoopable the next day, to even more frozen the next day. It was also icy and not very creamy.

I left my chocolate kahlua gelato in the freezer for two days to see how the freezing would compare to my first attempt at ice cream. My second attempt (my chocolate kahlua gelato recipe) I added 3 Tablespoons of alcohol (Kahlua), 1 Tablespoon honey, and cut the avocado in half.  After freezing overnight it was the consistency of ice cream that's starting to melt, the next day it was more easy to scoop, a little more frozen but still with a slight meltyness to it.  It had a perfectly creamy gelato texture, with just a hint of fine ice crystals and all without a single churn.  In fact next time I make this recipe I think I will reduce the alcohol by a tablespoon just to see what happens, since it did not freeze solid at all and less alcohol would make it even healthier!

Update: I did try with 1 Tablespoon less and it was icy, so apparently you need about a 1:1 ratio of alcohol to liquid (that's freezable).

My mind is going crazy thinking of all the fantastic flavour combos I could come up with, so look for more recipes to come!

Other Frozen Treats You Might Like:
Healthy Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pops
Coconut Milk Popsicles 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Popsicles
Vegan Chocolate Kahlua Gelato (no churn no ice cream machine needed)
Low Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream with Raw Strawberry Sauce Recipe

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