Growing up, mom always made ice cream at home. Sometimes for special occasions, sometimes just like that. She thickens the milk, adds flavorings (if any), blends the mixture and freezes it – with no ice cream churning machine. I actually preferred her slightly firmer ice cream to the store-bought version. Nothing beats the taste of a bowl of fresh, milky ice cream. She has her signature mix-ins too. Cocoa powder for chocolate ice cream, pureed mangoes for mango ice cream, pistachio flavored ice cream and so on. Once when I was still in school, she even made coconut milk ice cream. That was when terms like vegan or low-fat was never used to describe desserts. Yes, she was ahead of her times.
This year when we visited India, I saw her whip up a small batch of chocolate ice cream for Boy within minutes. Usually, she takes her time to par-freeze the ice cream mixture, blend it and re-freeze it at least a couple of times. That is the old-fashioned trick to smooth homemade ice cream. Boy didn’t wait for all that. He slurped down the semi-frozen mixture with more gusto than I’ve ever seen.
Why have I never made ice cream? I don’t have a particular reason. Or maybe I do. My first and only ice cream making adventure till now was as a newly wed. Back then, my hubby and I were big fans of the Travel & Living Channel. I saw Nigella making pomegranate ice cream the old-fashioned way, like my mom. I decided I’ll be making that. Let’s just say it didn’t go quite well.
It was a disaster! Can you believe that I didn’t think to strain the pureed pomegranates? The seeds settled in a thick layer, the sugar separated into another layer, it was a creamy mess! On top of that, mom dropped in on a visit and kindly made us a batch of her usual ice cream. Nothing more was said about the incident.
When I made mango kulfis, I vowed I’ll learn to make ice creams the old-fashioned way. Of course, I’ll take some short-cuts like using custard powder. That is the easiest way to homemade ice cream without a hot scrambled egg mess. I experimented a couple of times by making plain vanilla ice cream till I was satisfied. Then it was time to create something blog-worthy. The easiest way to dress up vanilla ice cream is to add any kind of fruit sauce (or coulis as the French call it; everything sounds better in French). I decided to use juicy, ripe blackberries.
I love the gorgeous color of cooked blackberries. You can very well use ready-made fruit preserves or jam, but you don’t need to. Whipping up a berry sauce is a breeze and you can wear your ‘I made ice cream at home‘ badge proudly!
As you can see, I am no expert at staging or photographing frozen desserts. By the time I was done, the ice cream was a melted mess. But I decided to roll with it! That’s how one learns, am I right? But make no mistake, it was absolutely fantastically fabulously delicious! Yes, that’s three superlatives in one sentence, that’s how good it was.
You will need:
For Vanilla Ice Cream,
- Whole Milk – 4 cups
- Vanilla custard powder – 3 tbsp
- Sugar – 1/2 – 3/4 cup (as per sweetness required, I used 1/2 cup and a few extra teaspoons)
- Milk powder (full fat) – 4 tbsp (optional, but it helps)
- Heavy cream – 6 tbsp
For Blackberry Sauce/Coulis,
- Blackberries – 6 oz
- Sugar – 4 tsp, heaped
- Water (or lemon juice) – 1 tsp
- In a small bowl, combine the custard powder with 1/4 cup milk, stirring well to ensure there are no lumps. Keep aside.
- Heat the rest of the milk in a large, thick-bottomed pan. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and add the custard powder paste. Cook the custard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure there are no lumps. You can feel the mixture gradually thickening.
- Now add the sugar and milk powder and cook till the mixture is thickened (to coat the back of a wooden spoon, like pancake batter).
- Once thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Allow to cool completely.
- Pour this vanilla ice cream mixture into a flat-bottomed, freezer-safe dish and keep it in the freezer. This mixture should be blended and frozen a couple of times. Meanwhile, you can prepare and refrigerate the berry sauce. Read on below.
- Blackberry sauce: Take the ripe blackberries, sugar and water/lemon juice in a saucepan and cook on medium heat. Once the berries soften, mash them with the back of a spoon. Strain this mixture to remove the seeds. Return the sauce to the pot and cook further till slightly thickened. Cool and store in the refrigerator till needed.
- Freezing & Swirling: In a couple of hours, the ice cream would have started to freeze at the edges of the dish. Blend it well in a blender and freeze again. Do this at least twice or thrice, if you have time. Just before the last freeze cycle, gently pour the chilled blackberry sauce on top and make random swirl marks with a spoon or fork.
- Freeze for 6-8 hours or till firm. Take it out and keep on the counter 5-10 minutes before serving so that it is easier to scoop. Serve with fresh blackberries or your favorite toppings. Enjoy some delicious homemade ice cream!
- As I said, I made plain vanilla ice cream a couple of times before posting this. I experimented without the milk powder and heavy cream and once by adding some condensed milk. Though they all were really good, I found that the heavy cream adds a nice texture and richness to the ice cream.
- Blackberry (or any fruit) jam or preserves are a nice alternative to the sauce. Swirl some into the ice cream mixture or top individual servings with it. It’s totally worth it and will complement the vanilla ice cream perfectly. Also, feel free to up the amount of berry sauce used.
- This ice cream is heavenly in milkshakes too.
A scoop of delicious freshness. Nothing says summer better than ice cream!
Do you have an ice cream machine? Or do you prefer the old-fashioned method? What is your favorite ice cream flavor and fruit combo? Do share.
I am linking this up to parties at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn