If the weather holds, we’re in for a great summer, which means ice creams and ice lollies are the order of the day. They are so easy to make at home, and there are recipes to suit you whether or not you have an ice cream machine.
Quick and Simple Recipes for Ice Cream Machines
Whether you have a machine with integrated freezer, or the type where you need to freeze the bowl before you churn, there are many options for quick and easy ice cream bases that don’t require the faff of making custard from scratch.
My first cheat is to use readymade custard – the posh fresh kind rather than the stuff in cartons. Just mix in your chosen flavourings and a little extra sugar – sweetness is muted when you freeze the mixture so you need it to taste a little too sweet before freezing.
I’ve made all kinds of ice creams this way from matcha (just mix in powdered green tea and sugar) to mint chocolate chip (crème de menthe, finely chopped fresh mint leaves and broken up after eights) to basil (basil leaves, sugar and a splash of vodka) to coffee, rum and walnut brittle (rum, instant coffee and some brittle I’d made the day before).
You can also make a simple ice cream using a jug blender, blending all the ingredients together before pouring into your ice cream machine to be churned. I recently made a deliciously rich strawberry, clotted cream and pedro ximinez sherry ice cream this way.
More Complex Ice Creams
If you’re happy to spend a bit more time, and don’t mind making your own custard base, I have a few recipes that may suit. Try Burnt Apple & Bourbon Ice Cream, Sichuan Pepper Ice Cream, or Avocado Ice Cream for something different.
Very Easy No Churn Ice Creams
I’ve been using this simple no churn ice cream base for years. You’ll need a stand mixer, electric whisk, or very strong arms to whip the ingredients, and a container to freeze the mix in.
Whip 300 ml double cream till stiff. Add 150 ml sweetened condensed milk and whip again. Add your chosen flavouring: e.g. 5-6 tablespoons of a favourite jam, a few tablespoons of a favourite cordial, a well bashed Crunchie bar or two, or just a half a teaspoon of vanilla beans or extract. Transfer into a plastic tub and freeze overnight. That’s it, done!
Here’s a quick yuzu ice cream I made using this method – the yuzu flavour comes from a jar of what is basically yuzu marmalade.
Easy Ice Lollies
Ice lollies are another favourite, and you don’t even need proper moulds. I often use small glasses or cups, and if I don’t have lolly sticks, I use teaspoons for sticks.
My Go To ice lolly recipes are made in a jug blender – I throw in the ingredients, blitz into a slightly-too-sweet smoothie and pour into moulds to freeze. That’s it! You can add cream or yoghurt for a dairy version, or keep it to fruit for a sorbet style lolly.
Using Alcohol or Sugar Syrups to Keep Ice Cream Soft
Shop-bought ice creams usually have extra ingredients added to keep them soft, whereas homemade ice creams often freeze hard. The easiest way to achieve a slightly softer finish in homemade ice creams is to add a little alcohol, as alcohol doesn’t freeze (at the temperature of a domestic freezer). I use vodka when I don’t want the flavour to come through, and choose drinks such as whisky or sherry, when I do.
The other option is to use a liquid form of sugar such as honey, agave nectar, corn syrup or sugar syrup to replace some or all of the sugar. Of course, some of these will change the flavour of your finished ice cream, so you will need take that into account.
If you’d prefer not to use either, your ice cream will be absolutely fine but it will be hard and solid straight out of the freezer, so take it out a few minutes earlier to soften before you scoop!