Frivolous Friday: Adventures in Ice Cream Making, Part 1

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care a lot about that may not necessarily have serious implications for politics or social justice. Although any day is a good day to write about our passions outside of social issues, we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun.

Last New Year’s, my parents gave me an ice cream machine as a gift. Ever since, I have been an unstoppable force of dessert creation. There’s almost always some in my freezer, because even though I love ice cream, I love it in pretty small amounts. The fact that there is usually so much of it in my freezer is a fact that few people other than my roommate have known…until now.

Ice cream making sounds like kind of a complicated process, and it is–but it’s easy. The first step is to obtain an ice cream machine. Mine is one of the (relatively) cheaper ones and it works just fine unless you want to make massive quantities of ice cream. All an ice cream machine does is churn the ice cream base while also freezing it so that it’s neither a solid hunk of ice nor a liquidy mess.

Making ice cream usually consists of four steps:

  1. Combining the ingredients (this often involves simmering a bunch of dairy products and adding stuff to them)
  2. Chilling the ice cream base (if you don’t do this, it won’t work)
  3. Churning the base in the ice cream machine (and, sometimes, adding stuff like nuts or chocolate chips)
  4. Freezing the ice cream (like, in the freezer) for at least a few hours

I haven’t started creating my own recipes yet, so I just basically do what the recipe says. 😛

When it comes to chilling the ice cream base, you can either put it in a sealed container and put that in the fridge for about four hours. Or, if you’re impatient like me, you can fill a big bowl with ice and cold water, pour the base into a gallon-size ziploc bag, seal it, and let it hang out in the bowl for a while until it’s pretty cold. The ziploc bag also makes for a pretty convenient way to pour the mixture into the ice cream machine.

Another smart thing to do is to make sure that when you put the churned ice cream into the freezer to finish freezing, you cover it with parchment paper first. I usually pour the churned ice cream into a tupperware, press the parchment paper onto the surface of the ice cream, and then close the container. The paper prevents those awful ice crystals of doom that have ruined every container of Ben & Jerry’s I’ve ever had.

I got to break out my ice cream machine for the first time a few days after I got it, at New Year’s Eve. I was throwing my first-ever NYE party, Russian-style. (The art of the Russian dinner party is definitely a topic for another Frivolous Friday post.) I decided that rather than normal champagne, I wanted champagne sorbet floats, because why the fuck not.

I decided to go with the cranberry royale sorbet from my Jeni’s cookbook. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is an amazing ice cream shop local to Columbus (although it’s now expanded to other cities too) and they’re cool enough to sell two cookbooks full of all their recipes.

Making cranberry royale sorbet: boiling cranberries with grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, and some other stuff until the cranberries pop!
Making cranberry royale sorbet: boiling cranberries with grapefruit juice, grapefruit zest, and some other stuff until the cranberries pop!

Preparing for that party was kind of awful (suffice it to say I will be taking December 31 off work from now on, whenever it doesn’t fall on a weekend), but the party itself was ridiculously fun and I got to see some people at levels of inebriation that I never thought possible. Also, I kissed two people at the same time at midnight, which was definitely a first.

The author, drinking a champagne sorbet float.
The completed champagne sorbet float, plus me looking fancy as hell.

The next ice cream I made was another Jeni’s recipe, “The Milkiest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World.” I get this all the time at my local Jeni’s, but I decided to alter it by using Special Dark cocoa powder instead of the normal kind. That, combined with dark chocolate chips, made the whole thing more dark than milky. At the end, you pour the hot milk-and-cocoa mixture over the chocolate chips and whisk it in, melting the chips. After I had cooled and churned and frozen it, I found that there were still tiny little bits of unmelted chocolate chip in there, and it was delightful. Definitely a self-care kind of ice cream. (But I mean, I guess all ice cream is that kind of ice cream?)

Milkiest chocolate ice cream before being churned and frozen...
Milkiest chocolate ice cream before being churned and frozen…
Milkiest chocolate ice cream in the world.
…and after.

My next ice cream making project required more attention to color than flavor, because it was for a Super Bowl party my roommate and I hosted. I decided to make two ice creams, one for each team.

The Carolina Panthers got Blue Moon ice cream, which is a Midwestern specialty. It’s a fascinating mix of flavors that includes vanilla, raspberry, and lemon. The recipe calls for raspberry flavoring, which I couldn’t find for the life of me. When I googled it to try to find out where it might be sold, I found out that there was apparently some controversy about manufacturers using secretions from beaver butts in raspberry flavoring (I’m not making this up) and nobody wanted to buy it anymore. In any case, I ended up just substituting raspberry preserves, which worked great. When whisked into the hot ice cream base, it dissolved completely and imbued the whole thing with a very subtle raspberry flavor.

You're supposed to prepare the custard at a very specific temperature (170 - 175 F), so I broke out the turkey thermometer.
You’re supposed to prepare the custard at a very specific temperature (170 – 175 F), so I broke out the turkey thermometer.

Blue Moon is actually a custard, not an ice cream, so that’s how I learned how custard is made. As it turns out, when you add the hot dairy products to the egg yolks, you have to do it one tablespoonful at a time so that the yolks don’t cook and become, well, egg yolks. So that was kind of labor-intensive, but ultimately very worth it because frozen custard is thick and delicious and awesome.

Blue Moon ice cream. Or rather, frozen custard.
Blue Moon ice cream. Or rather, frozen custard.

For the Broncos, I went with something completely different: carrot orange sorbet.

I’ll admit that I took the easy way on this one. Rather than using carrots and oranges, I just bought some carrot-orange juice (only a slight modification of the actual recipe). The sorbet includes triple sec and was my first foray into the wonderful world of slightly-alcoholic frozen desserts. (Unfortunately, you can’t exactly make them very alcoholic or else they won’t freeze.) As a side note, this is also how I learned what the fuck exactly triple sec is, because at first I was really confused as to what it was doing in a sorbet recipe.

Carrot orange sorbet getting churned.
Carrot orange sorbet getting churned.

At the party, we served both ice creams and I wanted to see which one would get eaten faster so that I could jokingly crowd that team the winner of the ice cream bowl. But as it turns out, my guests seemed to want both equally and also didn’t eat that much of either because we had stuffed them full of food for hours leading up to that. (For instance: chili with like ten toppings.) So I suppose they were both winners.

Super Bowl ice creams, coexisting peacefully in the same bowl.
Super Bowl ice creams, coexisting peacefully in the same bowl.

The next thing I wanted to make was some sort of sorbet to go with a chicken teriyaki dish I was making for some friends. I selected (for some reason I don’t remember now) this kiwi lime sorbet. It’s very simple and only has three ingredients, but you need a food processor and you need to scoop out a butt ton of kiwis.

Drawback of making kiwi lime sorbet: scooping out all these motherfuckers.
Drawback of making kiwi lime sorbet: scooping out all these motherfuckers.

But the result was delicious and unique.

Finished kiwi lime sorbet.
Finished kiwi lime sorbet.

My next ice cream adventure was pretty fucking cool (hint: it involves layers), but that’ll have to wait for the next Frivolous Friday. This was just Part 1!

What are your favorite ice cream flavors? Maybe I can make them!

P.S. If you want to follow along and see what I’m planning to make, check out my Pinterest board:

Follow Miri’s board Ice cream! on Pinterest.

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Frivolous Friday: Adventures in Ice Cream Making, Part 1
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2 thoughts on “Frivolous Friday: Adventures in Ice Cream Making, Part 1

    1. 1.1

      That sounds delicious! I’ve only ever found lemon sorbet recipes (there’s one with vodka that I’ll talk about in my next post), but I’m sure I can find an ice cream one.

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