Adventures With My Ice Cream Maker
When the lady behind the counter at the new gelato shop on the Upper
West Side rang up my order and it cost $25 for me and three children, I knew I only had two choices. Either get a job at an ice cream parlor, or buy my first ice cream maker. I’ve always been a fan of frozen desserts. Ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet, it doesn’t matter. Once the temperature hits 85 degrees, I need something cold. This obsession was easy (and affordable) before I had kids, but now I have to share! At $5 for a cup or cone, it is survival of the fittest, and my kids know better than to get between me and mint chocolate chip. After ruling out a future of soft serve, single scoops and samples, I decided to buy an ice cream maker.
Now the tough part, which ice cream maker to buy? First, there is the old-fashioned hand crank style maker, but that seemed so pre-industrial. Even if they claim to be fun for kids, mine would get cranky after one crank. The gel canister maker must be pre-frozen, which requires some advance planning. However, it is affordable and can make some excellent ice cream. Finally, there are self-cooling machines that don’t require pre-freezing, but they are more expensive and take up a lot of room on a shelf or cabinet.
After reading reviews online, my decision came down to two different Cuisinart machines, the ICE-21 ($50) and the ICE-50BC ($250). I liked the price and reviews of the ICE-21. The ICE-50BC is a self-cooling machine which is capable of making batch after batch of ice cream without pre-freezing, very tempting… In the end, fate (and a 20% off coupon) brought me to Bed, Bath and Beyond where the last ICE-20 (the previous model to the ICE-21) was on closeout for only $25 – the very same price as my gelato tab a few days earlier. This was a no-brainer, I bought it!
My first try was a simple recipe. The main difference between ice cream and other frozen desserts is the fat content. By law, ice cream must contain at least 10% milk fat. Premium and super-premium ice cream contain even more fat. As a dietitian, I couldn’t bring myself to use heavy cream, so I’ve tried some lighter alternatives. Ceylon Cinnamon Ice Cream is rich in texture and flavor, but by using half and half in place of heavy cream, I’ve cut the fat by almost 70%!
I was now ready to go for gelato. Gelato is characterized by an intense flavor and served semi-frozen. It is generally denser than ice cream and has more milk than cream, which makes it naturally lower in fat. The recipe I tried comes from southern Italy, where they use cornstarch instead of egg yolks as a thickening agent. My first Chocolate Gelato was a sweet success!
Remember when froyo was all the rage? When TCBY seemed to grow on every street corner like a Starbucks? It is enjoying a major resurgence again, as new companies like Red Mango and other frozen yogurt shops are returning to their active cultured roots with frozen yogurt that is 100% natural, has no artificial flavors or preservatives, and is rich in probiotics, calcium and protein. It’s naturally tart and can be enjoyed any time of day, even for breakfast!