Saturday, July 18, 2009

Easy Philadelphia-style Ice Cream

finished ice cream

If you like ice cream, then you know how expensive it can be. And you've definitely noticed that the "half-gallon" container is no more. Containers now hold 1.5 quarts, a full pint less than they used to. If you like super-premium ice cream, Ben and Jerry's and Haagen-Daaz are still a full pint, but prices have jumped. In some grocery stores you will pay $4 or more for a pint. Even on sale a 1.5 quart container of Edy's/Dreyer's or Breyer's will set you back $2.50.



So is it cheaper to make your own ice cream? The answer is, of course, that it depends. For me, it costs about about $2.30 to make 1.5 quarts of plain chocolate or vanilla. For additional flavor I can add bits of cookies, chocolate chips, or other ingredients that I already have on hand.

Here's the basic recipe, adapted from Alton Brown:


Vanilla Ice Cream

     2 cups half and half
     1 cup heavy cream
     1 cup sugar
     1 tsp vanilla (preferably vanilla paste)

     (For chocolate ice cream, add 5 tbsp of cocoa powder.)

Mix half and half with heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, whisking in sugar and vanilla until dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, with the thermometer down in the liquid but not touching the bottom. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can use a probe thermometer. Stirring occasionally, heat the mixture to 170 degrees. Remove from heat and pour into a large measuring cup or bowl. Chill in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours.

Pour the mix into your ice cream maker and mix according to your mixer's directions. Then put your finished ice cream into a container and put it in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours before serving. The ice cream is rich and scoops easily, but does melt somewhat quickly. This recipe makes 1-1.5 quarts, depending on how much air your machine whips into it.

I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer ice cream attachment, purchased with a gift card last year. I highly recommend it if you can find one on a good sale, but you can probably find a decent ice cream maker at a rummage sale or thrift shop very cheaply. As I said, I can make a batch of ice cream for about $2.30. I buy a quart of half and half for $2 and a pint of cream also for $2, and use half of each in the mix. Sugar costs me about $.20, and I'll budget $.10 for the vanilla.

This recipe adapts easily. The photo above is a Ben and Jerry's knockoff, chocolate malted ice cream with peanut butter pretzels and mini-peanut butter cups. I've also made chocolate Oreo, Nutella brownie, and strawberry ice creams.

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