The F&W Guide to Making Ice Cream at Home
From the very first time she churned out a pint of vanilla, watching as a batch of cream turned thick and silky in an ice cream maker, chef Fany Gerson was hooked. "Making ice cream is just as fun as eating it," she says. Gerson loved making ice cream so much that in 2010, she opened La Newyorkina, an ice cream and paleta shop in New York City that drew on her expertise and passion for Mexican sweets and pastries, and later wrote a cookbook called Mexican Ice Cream with all of her tips and tricks.
Here, Gerson shares five fresh-flavored ice cream recipes that each demonstrate a different fundamental approach to making the frozen treat. Although each style of ice cream calls for a slightly different set of ingredients—for example, there are egg yolks in French-style ice cream, while the nondairy recipe is made creamy with the addition of coconut yogurt—Gerson likes to say that there isn't one right way to approach ice cream. However, there are certain guiding principles that will help you along the way, ensuring ice cream that's smooth, creamy, and delicious.
The steps to making ice cream are simple: Create the base, churn the base in an ice cream maker, add any mix-ins, freeze the churned mixture, and let the ice cream harden. It's the in-between moments that can make or break the final product. You'll want to make sure you have the proper ice cream–making tools; see "Tools and Toppings," below. Because the bowl of the ice cream maker has to be frozen in order to use it, Gerson recommends buying a second bowl. As one bowl comes out of the freezer, another can go in to chill. That way, you'll be able to make more ice cream faster.
Another pro tip? "Make sure the storage container is fully chilled before you put the ice cream inside of it," Gerson says. "The coldness of the container will help prevent ice crystals from forming on the ice cream itself." At the very end of the process, when all you'll want to do is dig a spoon into the not-yet-set tub, Gerson cautions against too much taste-testing. "Don't rush it. The more you can let the ice cream sit, the more the flavors are going to come together." It'll all be worth it. —Nina Friend
Smooth & Smoky
Sorbet All Day
Tools and Toppings
Making ice cream at home is much easier when you've got the right equipment—and eating it is more fun when you've got the best sprinkles and sauces. Here, Gerson shares her picks for the tools and toppings that make homemade ice cream a breeze.
Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker
"Of all the ice cream makers I've tried, this one gave the best results. It's not terribly expensive and doesn't take up a lot of counter space." $100 at cuisinart.com
SUMO Kitchenware Ice Cream Container
"If you're not going to eat the ice cream right away, I recommend keeping it in an insulated storage container; it'll keep the texture for longer than if it's in a regular Tupperware. I like this one because it's long and shallow. It doesn't occupy a lot of space—you can usually put it in the freezer door—and it gets cold quickly." $15 at amazon.com
Zeroll 1020 Original Ice Cream Scoop, 2-ounce
"The ice cream scoopers that have the lever you press with your thumb break easily, but this old-fashioned one is very durable and makes great scoops." $25 at williams-sonoma.com
"If I'm using store-bought sprinkles, I want to make sure that they're all-natural. These hit that note, and they're colorful and fun." $8 at supernaturalkitchen.com
Sunday Night Premium Dessert Sauce
"I love this hot fudge because it's not cloyingly sweet. You can taste the good-quality chocolate, and it's really viscous and delicious." $12 at sundaynightfoods.com
The Konery Waffle Cones
"I haven't seen any other cone brand playing around so much with fun, interesting flavors—everything from toasted coconut to matcha." Prices vary, thekonery.com
Hot vs. Cold Infusions
Infusing is the process of steeping an ingredient in another ingredient, usually a liquid, to extract flavor and aroma. There are two kinds of infusion: hot and cold. In hot infusions, hot liquid is used to extract an ingredient's particles. The heat helps this happen quickly and fully, often changing the original flavor of an ingredient. (Think, for example, of hot brewed coffee.) In a cold infusion, cold liquid extracts in a slower, more selective process, leading to flavors that are smoother and more aligned with the ingredient's original flavor. (This is what cold-brewed coffee is all about.) With ice cream, there isn't a hard rule about when to use which kind of infusion. Gerson experiments with both methods (that's the best way to determine which you like better for any given ingredient), but she tends to use cold infusion for herbs and citrus zest, like lemon peel in the Peach Ice Cream with Caramel-Bourbon Swirl, and prefers hot infusion for spices, like the vanilla bean pod in the recipe for Roasted Strawberry–Vanilla Ice Cream.