Servings: 10 Prep: 20 mins Cook: 30 mins Total: 1 hr 30 mins
When it comes time to write a recipe, I’m never sure whether I’m being redundant and repetitive, or if each new installment works to instill a deeper sense of what I’m trying to convey.
I could argue that once you know how to make ice cream, you cease needing ice cream recipes.
I’ve been cooking professionally for longer than I care to admit (else, you’d realize how ancient I actually am [hint: multiple decades]). I know how to cook. I’m aware of almost all techniques used, so I don’t really need, buy, or read recipes. I instinctively know how to use all ingredients, what they’ll do when I use them, why I’d use them in specific ways, at which times, and so on. Granted, there are still times where I trip up, like with my ham debacle. The overwhelming majority of the time, however, I’m just winging it, tossing things together in ways I trust will work.
When I share an ice cream recipe, I feel as if just one recipe for plain vanilla ice cream is all that’s really needed. From there, if you like strawberry ice cream, the hope is that you can take a base vanilla ice cream ratio, toss strawberries into it… and arrive at a fantastic, homemade, strawberry ice cream!
While that’s probably true, there are things that could be done to heighten the experience. Some of this can be discovered by experimenting and eating mistakes, whilst others can be gleaned from reading recipes, like this!
Let’s talk a bit about cherries.
Most keto’ers and low-carbers frequently avoid fruit. Those that do dabble, often stick with just berries. Berries tend to be amongst the lowest carb fruits, while containing fiber and a nice assortments of additional vitamins and minerals. A rung up from berries tends to swirl around melons or stone fruits, with carb counts overlapping one another. For example, 4 oz. (100g) of cantaloupe has about 7 net carbs, peaches have about 8, honeydew has about 8.5, etc. Cherries, a stone fruit, run a bit higher, at about 13.5 net carbs per 100 grams.
While they’re on the higher end of the net carb spectrum, there are benefits to enjoying them, from time to time. They contain fiber, vitamin C, potassium, as well as a range of B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K. They’re also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Beyond that, they may help with arthritis, sleep, gout, heart health, etc.
I’d be lying if I said these were big motivators for me, personally. Certainly, those are all wonderful things, but I’m frequently more driven by the taste and sense of freedom and variety they lend my diet. Not one to enjoy restrictions, I dabble in periodic taboo ingredients, to prevent feeling confined. That said, I do so thoughtfully…
While cherries run the risk of breaking the day’s carb bank for some, diluting a small amount across a larger mass of ice cream is one way to have your cherries, and eat them, too. Adding a twinge of salt and sweetener will amplify the taste of the cherries. Finally, I personally will add either cherry extract, or (if I have it) a lovely sugar-free, cherry-flavored coffee syrup. This really helps extend the cherry-ness, without adding more carbs. The addition of actual cherries gives me the taste and texture of the real deal, too!
Back to the strawberries…
If I were to simply chop up the strawberries and add them to my ice cream, I’d increase the bulk of the ice cream. This may contribute too much mass for my ice cream machine, causing a molten flow of tasty driz. Beyond that, it’s been my experience that they freeze in a bit of a flavorless, somewhat hardened, and crystalized manner. They’re not bad, but they’re more of a distraction, than a bonus.
Instead, adding a bit of salt to them, in a bowl, will draw out some of that water. Adding a bit of sweetener will do the same. The removal of the liquid will soften (macerate) the berries, while enhancing their flavors with the flavor brightening salt and sweetener. This will also create a tasty syrup within the bowl of softening berries. Heating this mixture up will go even further towards macerating and generating that yummy syrup!
This will make an ice cream with better, deeper, strawberry flavor and a more pleasant texture for the actual berries. Because much of the moisture has been removed and turned to syrup, that syrup will be churned into the ice cream, resulting in billions of smooth, tiny crystals, while leaving the berry chunks with less water, thus less flavorless ice crystals within them. It’s all the same ingredients, but they’ve been combined in stages, to eek out better flavors and textures.
When looking at a basic ice cream ratio, it helps to be aware that the addition of ingredients will result in MORE ice cream (YAY!) and the base ratio may need a bit of adjustment to fit in the machine (BOO!). The various tastes may need to be modified a twinge, as well.
Let’s say we’re wanting to use 2 cups of pitted cherries. This would weigh about 310 grams. Because cherries are mostly water and most every food measurement is based on, or related to, water this suggesting if the cherries were pureed or crushed (removing the air between each cherry in a measuring cup), the end result would be roughly 1 1/4 cups (310mL) of cherries. Perhaps it’s wise to remove that volume from the ice cream base? Cherries have no fat, so it makes sense to remove it from the fat-free liquids. They’re also a little bit sweet, so it makes sense to remove a little bit of the sweetener.
However, cherries aren’t a liquid, even if they contain a lot of water. Won’t eliminating some of the liquids mess up the works? Yep. Kinda! This is where you really need to just make a bit of a judgement call. This is where you largely just eyeball things or make edumacated guesses and adjustments.
This is how I do things…
I will take my washed and pitted cherries, then put them on the stove with half the sweetener and a dash of salt. I’ll bring them up to a boil. Once they boil, I turn the heat off and just let them macerate on the stove for about 20 minutes. This will continue to soften and pull the water from them, all while sweetening the actual cherries. After 20 minutes, I’ll strain them, saving the juice. From there, I’ll subtract the juice (let’s say it’s a 1/2 cup [120mL]) from the almond milk. My own ice cream maker is big enough to handle the added volume contributed by the physical cherry bits. However, if your machine is on the smaller side, it may be prudent to simply cut the entire recipe by about 25%, then make your tweaks to the liquid and sweetener, from there. This will keep the ratio intact, while providing enough room for your funky, flavorful ideas.
Another thing I’ve been known to do is to initially reduce the liquid and sweetener measurements, ensuring there’s enough room in the machine. Then, when everything is actually in the machine and it’s churning along, I’ll look for any extra room. If there is extra room, I’ll add more stuff and chunks to it! I’ll add a bit more almond milk, or a bit of sugar-free cherry syrup. I mean, if I’m making ice cream, and there’s room in the machine, I might as well take advantage of it. Right? Let’s fill ‘er up!
As it churns, I’ll add little odds and ends. This or that. Sometimes I’ll add things like a sugar-free jam or jelly. I’ll taste it and adjust the flavor with a dash of salt, or a few poofs of sweetener. Even when the ice cream base is in the machine, I’m still tweaking and massaging it, to ensure the most and the best ice cream I can make.
I also personally like big chunks of surprise in my ice cream. If I add them too soon, the machine just swirls, smooshes, and blends them into the ice cream. This can be both good and bad. It homogenizes all the flavor and texture, which can be good, but it can also diminish or obliterate the chunks. I split the difference! I’ll add half the cherries at the beginning of the process, and the other half, at the last minute. This way I get more cherry flavor spread throughout the ice cream, but I’ll also get my nice, chunky surprises!
When I’m actually dishing up my portions, I’m also known to add things directly to my empty, little deli cups. Then, I’ll scoop the ice cream on top of those little vittles, prior to placing the cups in the freezer. Or I’ll sprinkle a topping on top. This gives me some visuals, bigger chunks, and even further variations in my nightly treats!
Who knew this was all so complex?!
I realize this is a long, winding road. The short version is a standard ice cream base with some strawberries in it will be delightful. A standard base, with a bit of thought, experimentation, and experience will just be that much better.
Random: Last night, I was whipping up my weekly batch of ice cream and made a spectacular Banana-Peanut Butter Ice Cream. I used real banana and banana extract, to stretch the taste. Because peanut butter is mostly fat, I substituted about 1/3rd of the cream with peanut butter, which smoothed out into ice cream love, as it churned. I also put some tiny blobs of peanut butter on the bottom of each of my deli containers, to give me little bursts of peanut butter, as I enjoyed my nightly cuppa. Finally, I drizzled a bit of xylitol honey all over it, before chowing down. I considered bacon bits, but… didn’t.
This is all still just one basic ratio. However, it can be harnessed and massaged into infinite directions.
Play with the format. It’s fun!
Cherry-Chocolate Brownie Batter Ice CreamPrint Pin Rate
Chocolate-Cherry Brownie Batter Ice Cream
- 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 3 Tbsp food-grade vegetable glycerin
- Place the cherries in a small saucepan with half of the sweetener and a dash of salt. Place a lid on it and place it on the stove over low heat. After about 2 to 3 minutes, the liquid should start coming out of the cherries and pooling at the bottom of the pan. Remove the lid, stir the cherries, and turn the heat to high. Stir the cherries, periodically. Once they begin to boil, turn the heat off and set the cherries aside, to continue macerating. Stir occasionally.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, gently heat the cream until the point just before it begins to simmer. Stir it and watch it, to keep it from boiling up and overflowing. That’s messy and a waste of cream!
- While waiting for the cream to warm, in a small bowl, combine the remaining sweetener, the cocoa powder, a dash of salt, and the optional xanthan gum. Mix well. If you’re using the xanthan gum, the combining of it with the other dry ingredients will evenly mix and distribute it within the powdered ingredients, preventing it from clumping when it touches the warm liquid.
- Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Slowly temper the hot cream into the eggs. Tempering is a process where a small amount of a hot liquid is added to eggs or other foods, while whisking. In this case, we’re doing it to prevent the eggs from “scrambling”. By whisking, while slowly adding the hot cream, we’re warming the eggs, without scrambling them. We’re maintaining that smooth-as-eggs lustrousness. Once all the hot liquid has been whisked into the eggs, pour this custard base back into the initial saucepan. Place the pan on the stove over the lowest heat your stove can produce.
- Whisk in the powdered dry ingredients and vanilla. Whisk quickly and thoroughly, again to keep the xanthan from clumping. Once everything is smooth and dissolved you can relax, somewhat. Although you do want to keep whisking to keep from scrambling the eggs. It should stay smooth.
- Keep whisking, until the frothier bubbles stop forming on the surface, it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. The temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).
- Remove from the heat and add the almond milk, mostly just to cool it down.
- Strain the cherries, making sure you save the cherry liquid. Whisk the cherry liquid and optional vegetable glycerin into the ice cream base, along with about half of the cherries. Place the remaining half of the cherries in the refrigerator, to cool.
- Pour the ice cream base into the ice cream machine. From there, simply follow the instructions for your machine (or bucket of ice and salt).
- Note: Most recipes suggest cooling the ice cream mixture (aging it) before it goes into a machine. I can never wait and have never felt it made a significant difference. I DO think it can be harder on the compressor, though.
- While the ice cream churns along, make the brownie batter by whipping the softened butter, almond butter, vanilla extract, sweetener, cocoa powder, almond flour, coconut flour and a dash of salt together in a small mixing bowl. Set this mixture in the refrigerator, to chill.
- Once the ice cream is about ready, add the remaining half of the cherries. Also, spoon some lumps of chilled batter into the ice cream. Let it churn for about a minute further.
- I personally divide this mixture into 8 deli cups, then place immediately into the freezer. I would divide and sprinkle the remaining brownie batter clumps over the top, add the container lids and freeze. About an hour before enjoying my treats, I will pull a cup from the freezer and place in the refrigerator, to soften for a bit. Then, down the hatch!
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