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alcohol in ice creams

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  • mzn Aug 28, 2005 12:44 AM
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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!

              1. I would say 2 tbl alcohol per quart of ice cream. This will keep it smooth and it won't freeze like a rock. If you want, you can maybe add 2 1/2 tbl per quart but not any more.

                1 Reply
                1. re: claregirl

                  I follow claregirl's proportions--2 - 2.5 TB of vodka or other higher proof liqueur, and that is safe in my hands. You can use proportionally more for liqueurs that are lower in alcohol.

                  When I make rum raisin and want a bit more punch from the rum that the above proportions would allow, I soak the raisins in the rum [like everyone else, I suppose] and fold them in gently. That way, most of the alcohol stays in the fruit. That way, I can get up to a total of about 1/3 of a cup of dark rum in total into the mix, and that is enough for me. Not sure I would like the rum flavour idea, but it is a good idea to at least try.

                  As noted above, other factors (e.g., sugar concentration) besides alcohol content influence freezing point.

                  Perhaps the most important issue (and one not mentioned so far, unless I missed it), is the thermal capacity of your ice cream maker under your conditions. That is, for most people who use one of the inexpensive Cuisinart makers that have the chamber you freeze in advance, in my hands it only had enough freezing capacity for un-boozified ice cream under optimal conditions. That is:

                  1) Frozen for at least 24 hours in the coldest part of the freezer kept on its lowest setting

                  2) Use only recommended quantity of mix

                  3) Mix is VERY cold from the fridge (OR, you can even give it a headstart by putting the mix in the freezer for a bit--any ice crystals that form will get broken up).

                  4) Ambient temperature is not too hot

                  5) All mix-ins are chilled or frozen.

                  You would have better luck freezing a boozy mix in one of these machines if you decreased the batch size and paid attention to the above considerations at the same time.

                  I could depart a bit from one of these constraints, but major departures or even multiple minor departures often led to problems getting the ice cream to freeze well, so adding alcohol would be out of the question.

                  If you have a good ice cream maker with a refrigeration compression (no insert to freeze), you have more flexibility here.

                  DEFINITELY add alcohol when the mix has solidified and process just long enough for it to become mixed in. It will be a little soupy but texture will be fine once frozen.

                2. i'm not sure if this helps or not, but i notice that in the original post you worry that the alcohol kept the ice cream from becoming "solid in the machine." ice cream doesn't routinely get solid in the machine. it gets kind of soft servey. you might just need to freeze the mixture after it is whirled.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: silverhawk

                    I've had trouble with alcohol not freezing properly so heres something that worked for me:

                    I only put half the booze into the mixture and this froze nicely.
                    The other half I soaked into tiny broken biscuits which I added to the ice cream just before it had finished churning.
                    You still get the same amount of booze in your ice cream plus the texture of the broken biscuits.

                    I made Licor43 and Amarettini Ice Cream this week.
                    The flavour of the Amarettini was a bit too strong so I'm going to try different types of biscuits/sponges.