Wednesday 18 June 2014

The Wonderful World of Homemade Ice-Cream

When describing a culinary delight, it’s customary to use an image of the meal after all of its constituent parts have been assembled, not before. I’ve made an exception here, because I really wanted to stress just how doable this is. Making your very own ice-cream may seem like a pipe dream to some, but it’s a very straightforward process. And there’s a hell of a sense of gratification when you’re scooping up an extra large helping of your very own creamy goodness ohmygod cooking is the dirtiest sounding thing ever!

Ahem. Perhaps the best part of all is that you get to completely define the flavours. I used strawberries this time, but once you’ve made the basic mixture, you can put absolutely whatever you want in there before freezing it. Alcohol is a great choice because (outside of the obvious reasons) it lowers the freezing temperature of the mix, resulting in a softer, easier to scoop final product.

Just hook it to my veins!

    Heat milk and sugar in a pan, until dissolved. Add vanilla extract, let cool. Mix in egg yolks. Heat up again, stirring, until thickened. Pour a lot of cream into a chilled bowl and strain in the egg mixture. Stir, and you’re done. That’s ice-cream mix.

    Add whatever extra flavourings you want and mix well. Pour into containers and place in the freezer. Stir roughly every hour until frozen solid.

You can’t be serious. That’s it? Really?

Pretty much! See for yourself.


  • 1 cup of milk (or half milk, half cream)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 6-8 free range eggs
  • 500ml cream

And for flavouring: Strawberries, Chocolate, Oranges, Mint, Sea Salt, Baileys, Malibu… Whatever you can imagine! Although if you’re going to make pure vanilla flavour, I recommend you swap out the vanilla extract for real vanilla seeds at the beginning. Much nicer. Just leave them in the warmed milk for about half an hour before continuing as normal.

    First up, pour the milk and sugar into a saucepan and heat up, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in the vanilla extract and take the pan off the heat. Let it cool until just lukewarm. The vanilla we’re adding isn’t to give a vanilla flavour, it’s acting as a flavour enhancer. A touch of vanilla is in a lot of recipes, as it’s particularly good at making things taste sweeter, without having to add more sugar. You’ve probably never heard anyone say “Man, I’m really digging the vanilla flavour in these chocolate chip cookies!”, but it is in there.

    While the milk is cooling, take out a really big bowl and throw a bunch of ice cubes into it, then cover them with water (I know you can’t cover ice with water, but… well you get what I mean). Now take a smaller, yet still big, bowl and set it in the larger one. What you’ve got now is an ice-bath, chilling the bowl that the ice-cream mix will go into. This helps speed up the freezing process. Pour your cream into the bowl and leave it for now.

    Get out two normal bowls and separate your eggs. Carefully crack each egg and empty the white into one bowl, and then drop the yolk into the other. This is called affirmative action. The whites aren’t allowed in the ice-cream. Cover the bowl with the egg whites and put it in the fridge. You can make an egg-white omelette or meringue or whatever later. Give the yolks a quick stir.

    Now the milk should be cool enough, so pour about half of it into the yolks. Mix them together well, then pour the whole thing back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Keep stirring, and bring the mixture up to a medium-low heat once more. Don’t let it boil. The mixture will thicken, and when it’s looking like custard take it off the heat again.

    Using a sieve, strain this thickened mixture into the chilled cream. This gets rid of any lumps that might have formed. Stir everything together, and you’re now finished making your basic ice-cream mixture. All that’s left is to add the flavours you want. Feel free to split this mix into two or three containers, experimenting with a different flavour for each one. You can sample the mixtures as they are, so keep adding whatever you like until it tastes just right to you. Then put it in a container for freezing (I just use Tupperware).

    Just as an example, I used a bowlful of strawberries, puréed in a blender. Or the juice of about 10 mandarins to make a really creamy, refreshing ice-cream (seriously, orange ice-cream is the bomb) Or something like a third of a bottle of Malibu, with chocolate shavings mixed through when it was almost frozen. Let your imagination run.

    Finally comes the freezing. How long this takes will depend on your freezer, how effective your ice bath was, and the size of the containers you use. Roughly every hour, you’ll need to take the containers out of the freezer and scrape the insides and generally just give them a good stir and a mash with a fork. This is to ensure even freezing and to prevent ice crystals from forming. Ice cream shouldn’t be crunchy. Well, yes, unless you’ve added nuts. Or caramel bits, true. Or anything else that’s supposed to be crunchy, yes, thank you. Smart-arse.

    Eventually, it will be pretty much frozen solid, and your work is finally done. Just before it gets to this point is a good time to add things like shaved chocolate. Anything that you didn’t want to dissolve into the mix can be safely added before giving the whole thing one last stir and leaving it to set. Have fun thinking up flavours you’d love to try! If you find any great ones, tell me about them in the comments!

(This will make approximately 1.5 litres of ice cream. You can just increase the quantities and make as much as you want. It’s the same amount of effort, so if you have space in the freezer, you may as well!

You can use fewer egg yolks to make a less rich ice-cream. But who’s ever said “you know what? This ice-cream is too rich!”? Also, I’m using Irish single cream. Creams in different countries have different standards for what is “single” and what is “double”. Feel free to make it with double cream! I just use single ‘cause it’s a lot cheaper.)


  1. Now I have an abundance of 'free range eggs'. I always wanted to know what to do with them - Now I know. I'm off to try my hand at home made ice cream. You make it sound so simple Colin

    1. Let me know how it goes! What flavours are you planning? Just made a batch of Raspberry, Vodka and Dark Chocolate. Very decadent.