Ice cream creations: Authors create funky flavors

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 21 2012 3:43 p.m. MDT

The Cupcake, a recipe from "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations" by Wendy Paul (Marielle Hayes Photography )

Marielle Hayes Photography, Marielle Hayes Photography

Cool and creamy homemade ice cream is a summer tradition.

But the real fun comes with all the creative flavor possibilities. How about Maple Bacon, Roasted Strawberry or Cupcake, as featured in Wendy Paul's "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations" (Front Table Books, $18.99)? Or what about Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream from Pamela Bennett's "Peanut Butter Sweets" (Gibbs Smith, $19.99)?

Both Utah cookbook authors made a playful departure from the usual vanilla-chocolate-strawberry routine.

Paul, of West Jordan, said the idea for Maple-Bacon ice cream came from eating a maple-bacon doughnut.

"It reminds me of a really good pancake with your syrup and bacon. Bacon is making its way onto the dessert scene. The salty and sweet combination is so satisfying."

Paul's favorite ice cream in the book is Roasted Strawberry. Roasting brings out the berries' natural sweetness, "and adding the balsamic vinegar makes them rich and so yummy."

She also finds that roasting fruit keeps it from developing an icy texture when frozen in the ice cream.

Paul even uses corn cobs in her Serendipity ice cream. She said the idea came from a friend who raved about a corn-flavored ice cream she had eaten in a restaurant.

"I found some recipes for it, but they were really intricate. I thought it shouldn't be that hard, and I just picked some corn from my garden and tried it. It has an old-fashioned custard flavor with just a hint of corn. But the key is to use fresh corn; frozen corn doesn't taste as good."

Aside from flavor combinations, Paul said what really sets her book apart from other homemade ice cream books is that her recipes are streamlined to be less time-intensive.

"You can enjoy a yummy food with people you love, and make it easy, make it fun, and with great flavor," she said.

Pamela Bennett, of Provo, grew up in North Carolina, where peanuts were popular. Hence, her idea for a peanut-butter flavored ice cream.

"In the South, we made homemade ice cream all summer long," she said. "Peaches were plentiful, but everyone tried to think of something 'unique,' and this was the contribution my family made to the neighborhood gatherings. It's delicious and easy with the new electric ice cream/sorbet machines that are currently on the market."

Scientifically, ice cream is a combination of ice crystals and fat globules. Air is incorporated into ice cream during the churning and freezing process; this is called "overrun" in commercial ice cream. That's why you don't fill the canister of the ice cream machine more than 2?3 full before you turn it on. You need space for the ice cream/air mixture to expand.

Without air, ice cream would be a dense, frozen brick. Ice cream with a little air in it is dense and creamy; a higher overrun gives you light, fluffy ice cream.

Home machines incorporate less air than big-batch commercial machines, so your homemade ice cream is likely to be more dense and creamy than what you'll find in the store.

Many ice cream recipes use eggs to add more richness. One of Paul's base recipes calls for uncooked eggs, but Paul gives instructions to cook them into a custard if you don't feel comfortable using raw eggs.

In this era of egg recalls due to contamination, that's a wise idea. The American Egg Board recommends always cooking eggs to 160 degrees, in order to destroy any possible salmonella contamination.

Nutrition-wise, ice cream is on the high-fat side, but if you try to decrease the fat content too much, your frozen treat will have an icy texture.

Paul offers a recipe for Skinny Vanilla base that uses light cream and milk. It's not as rich as the base that uses heavy cream, but when tested for this story, the Skinny Vanilla had a creamy texture on par with most grocery-store ice creams.

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