1 of 6
Marielle Hayes Photography , Marielle Hayes Photography
Maple Bacon Ice Cream is a recipe in "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations" by Wendy Paul. Maple Bacon Ice Cream is a recipe in "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations" by Wendy Paul.

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.

Paul also has a dairy-free base made with coconut milk and cream of coconut, which is especially good when combined with other tropical flavors.

Homemade ice cream doesn't necessarily save you money, when you're buying quality ingredients such as cream and vanilla. But there's the idea of being able to control the product, and the creativity of designing your own flavors.

And if you're having a party, ice cream making is one of those novelty cooking activities that tends to draw attention.

As far as machines go, you can spend a lot or a little.

Paul said she prefers the Cuisinart ICE-50, which can cost around $500. But the Cuisinart ICE-20 does a good job for around $50.

One drawback is that you have to freeze the container for 24 hours before making the ice cream; but Paul said you can buy extra bowls so you can make more than one batch in a 24-hour period.

But, she added, "I love the flavor and texture of the old-fashioned salt-and-ice buckets with the motor on top."

Some of these can be found for $20 to $30 at big-box stores, and for a lot less at garage sales.

Paul added that you can make ice cream without a machine, too. Mix up the ice cream recipe and divide it into four pint-size zip-seal bags. Fill gallon-size large zip-seal bag halfway with salt and ice. Place the sealed bag of ice cream inside the bag of salt and ice, and shake. "In 20 minutes, you've got soft-serve ice cream," Paul said. "It's fun for kids."

A fun idea that doesn't require a machine is "kick the can" ice cream, where the ice cream is churned by rolling around on the ground. You can buy a round, sturdy soccer-ball replica in some camping/sporting goods stores. It has an inner canister for the creamy mixture, surrounded by a compartment for the ice and salt.

Or, try using a 1-pound can set into a 3-pound can of salt and ice, as outlined in Dian Thomas' "Fun at Home" (Thomas Publishing, $14.95).

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.

Email: vphillips@desnews.com

Skinny Vanilla

This is a "base" recipe that can be used to make a variety of flavored ice cream; it's also great just by itself.

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups light cream

1 cup 2 percent milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk together all ingredients until combined. Transfer your cream liquid into your ice cream machine and make according to manufacturer's directions. Makes about 1 quart.

— "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations," by Wendy Paul, Front Table Books

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

Use bacon that has been trimmed of fat. The crunchier the bacon, the better.

1 basic (1-quart) recipe of your choice

2-3 teaspoons maple flavoring

1 pound bacon, trimmed of the fat, cooked, cooled and crumbled

Combine maple flavoring and cooked and cooled bacon. Add mixture in the ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's directions in freezing. Makes 1 quart.

— "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations," by Wendy Paul, Front Table Books

Roasted Strawberry

1 basic (1-quart) recipe of your choice

1 pound fresh strawberries, washed and dried

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

Toss sugar and balsamic vinegar with the strawberries. Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Finely chop or blend your strawberries until smooth. Place strawberries and all the juices in a sealed container in your fridge overnight, or at least 4 hours.

Add strawberries and juice to the basic recipe, stirring together until combined. Place mixture in your machine and follow manufacturer's directions in freezing.

— "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations," by Wendy Paul, Front Table Books

Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream

4 cups half-and-half

3 cups dry powdered milk

3 cups milk

11/2 cups peanut butter

11/2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla

In a large saucepan, combine half-and-half, powdered milk, and milk. Cook over low heat until granules have dissolved. Add the peanut butter and sugar and continue cooking until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and remove from the heat.

Comment on this story

Allow to cool before refrigerating until chilled. When completely cooled, add mixture to ice cream freezer and follow the directions for your freezer model.

Makes 21/2 pints.

— "Peanut Butter Sweets," by Pamela Bennett, Gibbs Smith Publishing

The Cupcake

1 basic (1-quart) recipe of your choice

3/4 cup yellow cake mix

1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Whisk together your basic recipe and cake mix. Add mixture in your ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's directions in freezing. Fold in rainbow sprinkles during the last 5 minutes.

— "101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations," by Wendy Paul, Front Table Books