If you haven’t yet made your own ice cream, you are missing one of summer’s great pleasures. With ice cream, homemade is definitely best. You will know every single ingredient that is in your treat, none of which will be multisyllabic unpronounceable additives. You can also make some “custom” flavors that are not readily available at your local market, and experiment with milk alternatives, such as coconut or almond. Fresher ingredients are another big bonus here, and certainly fresher is better in just about any product. Ice cream makers are available at reasonable prices and can bring years of fun, family activity. What are you waiting for? Here are a few unique flavors to give you the thrill of the chill.
Gingered lychee sorbet
Try this easy dairy-free treat as a light dessert after an Asian-inspired meal. Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine; makes about 4 cups.
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Two 20-ounce cans litchis in syrup
1/2 cup Moscato or other sweet white dessert wine
Stir first 3 ingredients in a small heavy saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes; strain. Cool ginger syrup completely. Drain litchis, reserving 1/2 cup syrup from can. Puree lychees in blender or processor with 1/2 cup reserved syrup until smooth. Strain. Combine pureed litchis, ginger syrup and wine. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer sorbet to a container with tight fitting lid; freeze until firm.
Honey lavender ice cream
Here is a delicate dessert that would be good with a little warm honey drizzled on top. Recipe from Gourmet magazine; makes 6 to 8 servings.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon dried lavender leaves (pesticide free)
5 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Benedictine liqueur
In a heavy saucepan, bring cream, half-and-half and lavender just to a boil. Pour through a fine sieve into a measuring cup. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, honey and liqueur, then add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Pour custard into the pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened (do not boil). Pour custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl; cool at room temperature. Chill, covered, in refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze to harden. Serve with warm honey if desired.
Heirloom tomato sorbet
This dairy-free recipe sounds more like a salad than dessert, but remember that the tomato is actually a fruit, and that a sorbet can be somewhat savory. Use the best local tomatoes you can find. Recipe from “The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook” by Mimi Luebbermann; makes 1 quart.
2 pounds full-flavor heirloom tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine (optional)
In a blender puree tomatoes until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. In a nonreactive saucepan, combine water, sugar and salt. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in pureed tomatoes, vinegar, pepper and wine if using. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
Cinnamon ice cream
Imagine a scoop of creamy cinnamon ice cream on a slice of fresh apple pie, or with a dark chocolate sauce as served by Elinor Klivans, author of “Bake and Freeze Chocolate Desserts.” Recipe makes 6 servings, about 1 quart.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 cinnamon sticks, about 3 inches long
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat milk, cream and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan just until warm. Turn off heat; let mixture sit for 1 hour. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Heat milk and cream again until a few bubbles form (do not boil mixture.) Put egg yolks, granulated sugar, brown sugar and ground cinnamon in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until mixture thickens slightly and lightens in color, about 45 seconds. Decrease speed to low; slowly add hot milk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook the custard, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until it reaches 170 degrees on a food thermometer. Stir often; mixture will thicken slightly — do not boil. Strain hot mixture into a bowl; stir in vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 5 hours or overnight. Stir mixture several times while it chills. Transfer custard to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Put mixture in a chilled container with tight fitting lid and freeze until firm.