Friday, May 2, 2014


This is one of my favourite ice cream base recipes. It's easy, mostly fool-proof, and without the bother of making an egg-based custard for the ice cream. And, it's like a blank slate so you can create away to suit the season (because ice cream is always in season!), your mood, your cat's mood, a theme, a cuisine, whatever!

Cornstarch is a neutral stabiliser that absorbs residual water left after cooking the cream. This minimises the formation of ice crystals in the cream mixture and results in a creamier smoother ice cream.

If you're adding any amount of alcohol to ice cream, remember to add it nearly at the very end of the ice cream maker freezing cycle. Because alcohol doesn't freeze... and you can imagine the rest! But if you can't, then here it is in plain words: if you add alcohol early on, your ice cream base will not freeze no matter how hard you pray. And that's no fun.

As always, add-ins like nuts, brownie bits, chocolate chips, etc. should go in just before the alcohol, or near the end of the freezing cycle.

Adapted from Ice Cream Nation.

Bourbon, Maple, Roasted Almond Ice Cream: Eggless
Makes: approximately 1 quart

**Freeze an ice cream maker bowl for at least 8 hours**

- 3 cups half-and-half (or an equal mix of whipping cream and 2% milk)
- 1/2 cup Demerara sugar (or Turbinado)
- 1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
- 3 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt (only if using unsalted nuts)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds (I use Trader Joe's Lightly Salted Roasted Almonds)
- 1/4 cup coarsely crushed almonds (pulverized but definitely not almond butter!)
- 3 tbsp. bourbon (I like to use Bulleitt)
  1. In a saucepan, stir together 2-1/2 cups half-and-half, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt (if using unsalted nuts). Heat over medium-low heat until mixture begins to steam and barely boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the sugar from settling.
  2. In a bowl, blend cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half till the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Temper the cornstarch: add 3-4 tbsp. of the heated half-and-half to the cornstarch mixture and mix well. Repeat.
  3. Add the tempered cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring until it starts to thicken and reaches a simmer, about 4 - 5 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest possible and stir for 2 - 3 minutes or so until thick. Don't overcook after adding the cornstarch or the cornstarch will overcook and won't thicken the mixture!
  4. Remove from heat and let the mixture come to room temperature. If there are lumps (although there shouldn't be), strain the mixture into a bowl. Chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge. Remove from the fridge and stir. If there's a skin on the mixture, stir it in. 
  5. Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just when the ice cream is the consistency of soft serve, add the almonds. Blend for a few minutes and when the ice cream is almost done freezing, add the bourbon and let it mix for 2 - 3 minutes longer to blend it in.
  6. Serve right away for a soft serve, or freeze for a couple of hours till firm.

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