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alcohol in ice creams

  • m

How much alcohol can you add to ice cream? I made a mojito ice cream (see link below for further description and pictures) with lots of rum and I believe the alcohol kept it from becoming solid in the machine. I would use less for better texture but I love the strong Bacardi flavor. Would adding the liquor at the end of the churning rather than adding it to the dairy mixture change the texture significantly? And is there a percentage of alcohol at which the stuff simply won't freeze at all? I was so pleased with the flavor of this ice cream that I'm eager to try more boozy treats (bourbon is high on my list; tequila would seem like a natural too). I know people add liquor in small quantities all the time; I'm more interested in large quantities. What do you think?

Link: http://haverchuk.blogspot.com

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  1. Very complex question.

    The easy answer is to use extracts. For instance, there is a rum extract that is much lower in alchohol than Bacardi. You get the flavor concentrate without significantly lowering the freezing point.

    Same exists for many flavors. Or you could cook down a bottle of branded liquor, but that has sacrifices.

    But as to what you asked, you would need to decide on a temperature and consistency-at-temp and other ingredients. Only then could one calculate what alchohol level could be used, and back into how many oz of the bottle could be used.

    One possibility I've never tried is a 'swirl'. Just as some ice creams have a caramel swirl, you could add the alchohol that way so that it has a different consistency, but stays suspended in the cream.

    (Personally, I have more experience with sorbets than ice creams. I have made a nice 'margarita' sorbet and some wine-based versions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SteveT
      b
      babette feasts

      Alcohol, sugar, and salt all lower the freezing temperature, so using less sugar would allow for adiing a bit more alcohol. I wouln't go too far with that one, though.

      Also, if one likes chocolate, melting chocolate into your ice cream base makes it much stiffer, so then you'd 'need' to add a little alcohol to soften it up.

      Or you can just pour extra over the top, or make boozy milkshakes.

      At el Bulli, we had pina coladas with liquid centered balls of rum - looked like tapioca pearls but gushed alcohol when popped. Now that would be cool in ice cream!

    2. I'm planning to try a margarita ice cream from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer book. She adds a total of 1/2 cup booze - 3 parts tequila, 1 part triple sec. Of course the texure in the picture looks great.

      How much did you add in total???

      4 Replies
      1. re: munster

        I didn't measure so I don't know how much I added in total. I would guess about 1/2 cup of rum to a mixture of about 3 cups of dairy, lime juice, and sugar.

        I don't know Nigella's book; I'm mightly suspicious of food porn photography and food styling (as I gather you are). But I approve of any author who encourages you to feed children liver, as she does in another book.

        Hope you will share a report on your margarita ice cream, munster. I await it eagerly.

        1. re: mzn

          I will report on the margarita later this week...

          Yes, I'm suspicious always. But, I have made two ice cream recipies from Nigella's book with great success: Raspberry ripple and Baci (which was so incredibly rich that I could barely eat more than a spoonful at a time, but my husband and 3-year-old son have been so happy all weekend).

          Do you think using an egg custard base would make a difference to your mojito? Another potential tip: Nigella's margarita recipe uses sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar.

          1. re: munster

            I think you're right: a custard base and/or sweetened condensed milk might do the trick. I think the condensed milk idea comes from adapting key lime pie custard into ice cream (just a hunch).

            I looked at the Nigella book in the bookstore this morning and the section on ice creams looks really good.

          2. re: mzn

            I will report on the margarita later this week...

            Yes, I'm suspicious always. But, I have made two ice cream recipies from Nigella's book with great success: Raspberry ripple and Baci (which was so incredibly rich that I could barely eat more than a spoonful at a time, but my husband and 3-year-old son have been so happy all weekend).

            Do you think using an egg custard base would make a difference to your mojito? Another potential tip: Nigella's margarita recipe uses sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar.

        2. Hard to improve over pouring Frangelica over gelato.

          The Champion Juicer has recipes for ice cream made by freezing on a tray and then running through the juicer to reduce the size of the crystals. A mix with too much alcohol for an ice cream freezer to handle might work ok with this approach.

          1. Unfortunately, alcohol acts like an antifreeze in ice cream (alcohol freezes at around -173 degrees F; water freezes at 32 degrees F). Too much will make ice cream “soupy." This can later result in ice crystal formation. Too much alcohol may also react with the milk proteins, producing separation.

            I can't remember the eact formulation, but I think the alcohol maximum is 3 - 4% of the total product in fresh ice cream (those made wihtout stabilizers) before the structure of the product is affected.

            Please let us know how your experiments work out!

            2 Replies
            1. re: meta

              This weekend my husband and I had gelato at a spot in Charleston, SC that had been touted in Gourmet.

              I had the pistachio and he had tiramisu. Mine was considerably creamier, what we both considered a superior texture. We wondered what the difference was. Do you think the brandy(or whatever booze they used) in tiramisu made the diff?

              1. re: danna

                It's so hard to know without seeing each of the specific formulations. It's all about proportion of ingredients and method. The pistachio may have been made with a nut paste; there are some really good pistachio pastes out there. And it's absolutely possible to get the booze ratio right on. I just really encourage you to keep on tasting!

            2. As others have noted, alcohol acts as antifreeze. I will add that I learned this by example, as we tried different formulas in our desserts class. Everyone's favorite example was to just freeze mixed drinks to see what happened. Turns out you can make excellent gin and tonic slushies in the ice cream machine, which has become a favorite during my summer parties!