A lighter ice cream

I wanted to make gelato for our friends who came to dinner last weekend, and my wife had bought a half-pint of heavy cream that we had thought to whip and use on top of strawberry-covered pound cake.

But we had an extra quart of whole milk in the fridge that we wanted to use and so I modified the gelato recipe we normally use to incorporate the small amount of cream, and now we have a gelato cum ice cream cum ice milk that not only tastes delicious the day you make it, but keeps much better than your basic uncooked gelato recipe.

Here it is:

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 packet (or 5.3 ounces) of nonfat dry milk powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (maybe a little more if you like, but no more than 1 1/4 tsp.)

That’s the whole thing. Blend it in your blender, chill it and freeze it according to your manufacturer’s directions, and you’re done. Some folks might want to up the sugar to 3/4 cup but I think that’s pushing it. No harm done if you want to try it that way.

In any event, the milk powder absorbs the water in the milk and helps, with the small amount of cream, to emulsify the mix so that it doesn’t go grainy on you by the second day. I tried ours on the second day, when our regular gelato has begun to get icy, and it was perfect.

It didn’t last a third day.

I think you could add four shots of chilled espresso (or espresso powder) to make coffee ice cream, or cinnamon. You could macerate some berries in a lot of sugar or Cointreau, Grand Marnier or framboise and add them to the mix when it was partly frozen — the sugar or alcohol will keep the berries from turning into bullets in your mouth.

So, OK: It’s not exactly gelato, and it’s not ice cream and it’s not ice milk. But it’s incredibly easy, and really good — even on the second day.

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