What Is An Ice Cream And How Do You Make One?

Ice Cream: As the name suggest, ice cream is quite literally a frozen product made from cream. It's often flavoured with fruit and/or nuts and can often be sweetened and have milk added. The texture of ice cream is introduced by the whipping process and this is what gives ice cream its light and fluffy texture. Indeed, ice cream can be up to 60% by volume of air, which is why ice creams are typically sold by volume rather than weight.

The quality of ice cream is further dependent on the quantity of butterfat in the mix. Typically premium ice creams contain between 11 and 15% butterfat. Standard ice creams typically contain 10 to 11% butterfat and economy ice cream contains 10% butterfat exactly.

Gelato. This is an Italian ice cream. It differs in a major way from standard British or American ice creams in the amount of air that's whipped into the mixture. A typical gelato will have 20% of air, whereas an ice cream will have 60%. This results in gelati (the plural of gelato) being far more intensely flavoured desserts.

Glace is a French-style ice cream. It differs from ice creams and gelati in that it is made from a custard base using egg yolks. As a result it is a very rich and silky in texture.

To help show these differences more clearly, below I include recipes for a traditional ice cream and a traditional French glace. An ice cream maker is recommended, but you can make these at home in the freezer.

Bilberry Ice Cream

750g bilberries (or substitute blueberries)
300g sugar
3 tbsp orange juice
1l single cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the bilberries, sugar and orange juice in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Every now and then mash the berries against the side of the pan as they heat up and cook. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly then puree in a blender and pass through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any pips. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile turn on our ice cream machine and allow the bowl to chill. Combine the blueberry mixture, the cream and the vanilla in the chilled bowl of the ice cream machine then churn according to the manufacturer's instructions until the ice cream is set.

Glace á  la Fraise
(Strawberry Glace)

125ml milk
125ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g sugar
2 egg yolks
25g fresh strawberries, finely diced
40g fresh strawberries, puréed

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring often, until the liquids begin to boil then take off the heat, add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

Meanwhile combine the sugar and egg yolks in a small bowl. Whisk together until pale and creamy then slowly whisk-in the milk mixture. Continue whisking until smooth and well combined then tip the mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the custard thickens sufficiently to easily coat the back of a metal spoon.

Take off the heat, strain into a bowl then set aside to cool. Stir-in the diced strawberries and puréed strawberries and whisk to combine. Pour the resultant mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.

I hope that you now appreciate some of the differences between individual styles of ice cream and that you are now ready to try and make some of these for yourselves.

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About The Author, Gwydion