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Help, my ice cream maker is making us fat.

My wife and I love our ice cream maker. We love it too much. We've enjoyed cherimoya gelato, banana ice cream, dulce de leche ice cream, and dozens of other flavors of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. And it's starting to show. Do you have any recipes/ideas for lower calorie sorbet and gelato?

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  1. I'm not great with the proportions but I'm pretty sure that you can make sorbet out of just about any fruit you choose just by cooking it down with a good amount of sugar (I'm afraid you can't really get around the sugar) and a little lemon juice, letting it cool, adding a splash of alcohol, and freezing it in your ice cream maker.

    Sorbets, being fat free, are way healthier than regular or even most low-fat ice cream or gelato and aren't that bad for you so long as you're not diabetic or otherwise intolerance to glucose.

    One tip for this: when you use your machine and you're not adding as much fat, you want to churn the s*** out of it before sticking it in your freezer. People (including me) have had a lot of problems with sorbet freezing too solid in their freezers, which I think depends partially on the temperature of your freezer, partially on the amount of sugar and alcohol you've added (more of either helps), and partially on whether the sorbet is frozen enough when you first pop it in the freezer (obviously if it's not **really** frozen in the machine, it will have to freeze the ice-cube way in your freezer).

    Good luck...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Adrienne

      To keep sorbet from over-freezing, add a tablespoon of vodka per quart before putting it in the ice cream maker.

      And try this lemon sorbet on for size:
      Intense Lemon Sorbet

      Not for sissies.

      1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
      the zest of three lemons
      1 cup cold water
      1 cup (or a bit less) of quick-dissolving (“superfine”) sugar
      1 tablespoon frozen vodka

      Blend the lemon juice, zest, water, sugar, and vodka in a large, non-reactive bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Refrigerate the mixture, covered, until thoroughly chilled, at least 45 minutes.

      Churn the mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions until frozen, 20-30 minutes. Scoop the sorbet into a freezable container, and freeze it for at least two hours.

      The sorbet keeps well for 3-4 days; then it usually hardens considerably.

      Yield: About 2/3 quart

      1. re: Adrienne

        I've had great luck with several flavors of the Cook's Illustrated sorbet, which only helps you if you're a web member and have access to their recipes. This recipe does include ~ 1T vodka (or other alcohol, depending on what flavor you're looking for) per 1-1.5 pints of sorbet (I think). I've never had any scooping problems.

        I've also made a few sherbet recipes that use milk instead of cream, which I prefer over the heavier ice creams.

      2. That's exactly why I'm afraid to get an ice cream maker!

        You could try my favorite sorbet, although I usually make it in the food processor. It's easy as pie -- put 4 cups strawberries (about two pounds) in the food processor, and puree. Add up to a cup of sugar (depending on sweetness, I like 1/2 c. but the original recipe called for a cup), two cups of water, and the juice from a small lemon. Swirl until mixed. At this point, the recipe says you can put it in an ice cream maker, but I usually put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and then back into the food processor.

        Perfect Light Desserts has a recipe for a "leaner" gelato that looks divine (and I've read good things about it) but I've never tried it.

        1. You have so many options - but no, you can't avoid the sugar! You can make some amazing sorbets out of fruit. Get a bag of frozen raspberries. Thaw, throw in food processor with a squirt of lime juice and some simple syrup. Strain or not, depending on how you feel about seeds. Chill and throw into the maker.

          Another great option is to buy bottled fruit nectar (I love passionfruit), mix with some citrus (I like lime) or a touch of alcohol, and put it in the maker. No effort necessary.

          Last, mix buttermilk (made from 2% milk, so not that bad for you) with sugar and lemon rind. Put in maker. It is amazingly delicious and refreshing.

          1. I like blood orange sorbet made with a rosemary infused simple syrup - although, there is quite a bit of sugar in the recipe. And yes, I do add a bit of vodka to keep it from over-freezing.

            1. I just made a coconut banana ice cream recipe from Cooking Light that is delicious, It definitely will be in my rotation from now on.

              It's on page 182 of the May 2007 issue.

              To paraphrase:
              1 1/2 C 2% milk
              1 cup of cream of coconut (the kind you use for pina coladas)
              1/3 C sugar
              1 1/2 C ripe mashed banana.

              Mix the first 3 ingredients. Add the banana and chill in the fridge for an hour. Pour into your ice cream maker (I used a Cuisinart) and when it's ready pour in a freezer safe container and chill to firm. It was good right out of the ice cream maker when it was really creamy too.


              1. If you like chocolate, try this - trust me. It sounds weird, gelato with no eggs or cream, but it is delicious. Everyone went crazy for it when I served it at a dinner party - it was gone in a flash. I used Scharffenberger 70%, but I'd recommend using a slightly lower cacao content chocolate unless you like it very strong. Despite the chocolate it's still much lower in fat and calories than traditional gelato.


                I also like to make frozen yogurt, freezing good quality plain organic yogurt in the freezer with some fresh fruit. It is best served straight out of the container still soft, but I imagine you could also freeze it longer if you added a little vodka as with the sorbets.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Alice Q

                  Do you think it is possible to successfully make the epicurious recipe without an ice cream maker? My one take on homemade ice cream made without an ice cream maker came out great, but that was a recipe that specifically did not call for an ice cream maker, so it wasn't as if I was modifying the process as I would be with this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

                  1. re: Laura D.

                    I made a gelato in the freezer and food processor last night that was similar (the recipe I used called for a little gelatin and corn syrup as stabilizers), and it came out delicious. I made a strawberry variation, not the chocolate, though (possibly the higher fat might change things?). I just poured it into a pie pan, froze it solid, and then pureed in the food processor.

                    I'd love to know your ice cream technique! I've been sticking to sorbets and gelatos (stuff with a lot of water) but if I could make ice cream, too, that'd be wonderful. I just don't have the freezer space for a cannister-based ice cream maker or the budget for a freeze-in unit.

                    1. re: dietfoodie

                      I think more fat should make it easier, if anything.

                      Once I melted down a bag of chocolate chips and added a pint of fat free half and half, making a chocolate sauce on the fly, and it got cold and I stuck it in the freezer thinking I'd reuse it but I discovered that it had magically become ice cream. I'm really not sure how that happened but I recommend giving it a shot if you want to make ice cream without a machine.

                      1. re: dietfoodie

                        Here is the recipe that I used:


                        Basically, it's frozen sweetened whipped cream, and since I love whipped cream I'm not surprised that I loved this. I made the recipe as written but I did add about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and some chocolate chips/chunks. A few things to keep in mind:

                        -I ate this less than 24 hours after it was made. I loved the consistency since it wasn't rock solid (I tend to prefer my ice cream to be softened) somewhat. It was very light in texture, and had a great mouthfeel, but I'm unsure how that would change if it were kept longer than 24 hours.
                        -I added chocolate chunks to my mixture and I thought this was a nice addition
                        -I don't think that the chocolate syrup makes for a very strong chocolate flavor with this recipe. If you are looking for an intense chocolate blast then this recipe needs to be modified. If I were to make it again I'd likely use some kind of higher quality substitution for the chocolate syrup--probably something homemade that has both a higher fat content and a deeper/higher quality flavor than the Hershey's chocolate syrup does.
                        -I'm unsure whether you could use this recipe to make vanilla ice cream, or other flavors, but I guess it is worth a shot. I don't make ice cream much, (mainly because I would wind up eating a huge quantity on my own), so I've only experimented with this recipe a single time.
                        -As you can tell from the ingredients, this is not a low-fat ice cream. I'm unsure whether you could substitute any milk or even half and half into the recipe but I tend to think the answer is no given that those items won't "whip" and the whip is necessary for this recipe.

                        Good luck!

                        1. re: dietfoodie

                          You might have more luck searching for 'parfait' than ice-cream all of the 'parfait's I have recipes for specifically make the mixture then freeze. (Rather than make the mixture then churn) My favourites is a mocha one with amaretti biscuits and kahlua. Oh, and lots of calories.

                        2. re: Laura D.

                          I think it would be tough. I use an inexpensive Krups ice cream maker and it works fine - I just put stuff inside it in the freezer and it doesn't take up too much room.

                      2. You can substitute splenda for part of the sugar in a sorbet. It isn't noticeably different in flavor.

                        Try frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or gelato. It's lower in fat even if you use a whole milk yogurt. I make strawberry frozen yogurt from fresh-picked berries, Greek yogurt and honey. Not nearly as calorific as ice cream, it has wonderful berry flavor and yogurty tang.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: cheryl_h

                          I've thought about using Splenda, but my usual sorbet is only about a hundred calories per 1/2 c. serving anyway. I'm not sure subbing in Splenda would be worth it; I've heard people say there's no real taste difference from sugar, but I'm positive I can taste something off about it and I'm not crazy about the unnaturalness of it. I don't know what it is, but the sweetness from Splenda just isn't the same as from real sugar! (Or I could be crazy; I haven't done any blind tests to see if it's all in my head or not.)

                          1. re: dietfoodie

                            I've been told that if you replace about half of the sugar with splenda, it isn't too noticeable. I wouldn't use all splenda. If you're sticking to a half-cup portion, I think you're in good shape. If you eat a lot more than a half-cup, splenda might make a difference.

                            1. re: cheryl_h

                              Question is how does the replacementof the sugar with Spelnda hurt the freeze point. ALways had an issue with the sorbet turning to an ice cube and thought sugar was the answer.

                              please help this confused ice cream maker wannabe

                              1. re: jfood

                                I don't think it makes much difference to the freezing point. If your sorbets are too icy, you can (1) add some alcohol to the mix, this lowers the freezing point; or (2) add a stabilizer like xanthan gum or guar gum which inhibits formation of ice crystals. Or eat the sorbet when it's softer, usually a couple of hours after you put it in the freezer (IME). Why keep it any longer? This is DH's approach. I don't eat a lot of sorbet, ice cream or gelato, I just make the stuff.

                                1. re: cheryl_h

                                  Not everyone can eat an entire tub of ice cream at once!

                                  I really do think splenda is a mistake in terms of getting it to freeze -- splenda is twice as sweet as sugar, so you would want to use much less of it... but its the high concentration of sugar that helps the sorbet not freeze solid... it would be awfully sweet if you put in as much splenda as you would sugar.

                              2. re: cheryl_h

                                I honestly cried the first time I looked at the nutrition label on a pint of ice cream and did the math!

                                I've had good luck with the texture of my sorbet, even without alcohol? I found the recipe in a library book sale cookbook, and it said it was 'foolproof' (pretty much right at my speed). The texture is softer, more like a gelato than an ice cream, but not really creamy. And it takes about four hours to set up?

                            2. re: cheryl_h

                              I use Fage or TJ's fat-free Greek yogurt and frozen fruit. For sweetener, I sometimes use frozen juice concentrate, if I'm feeling fancy.

                              A word of warning though: if you're cutting back on fat and/or sugar, it's best to make really small quantities and eat them fast. It tends to get rock hard after a day or so in the freezer.

                            3. You can make sorbet out of almost any pureed soft fruit using a 4:1 ratio of sugar to fruit (in other words, if you have four cups of fruit you use one cup of sugar -- or to taste). If your fruit is really sweet, you might want to add a little lemon juice as well. Put the sugar in a small sauce pan, add 1/4-1/2 cup of the fruit puree, and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then add it back to the rest of the fruit. If I was making it with peaches or nectarines I'd peel them or strain the puree through a coarse sieve. I tried this with cherries once and they were so pulpy it never really did freeze properly.

                              One of the best (if maybe the weirdest) sorbets I made was a beet-blood orange sorbet inspired by another chowhound mentioning they'd had it at a top-tier restaurant. Here's a thread with a couple of versions of it: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/276951

                              I've seen recipes that call for an egg white (one per four cups of fruit puree, added when the mixture is starting to freeze), and I finally tried it -- the sorbet came out really light and fluffy, so I think it must keep it from getting too hard and icy.

                              1. Good for you, glutton! Not for getting fat, but for enjoying your ice cream maker so much. I had a little love affair w/ my ice cream maker a couple of summers ago after discovering the bliss of homemade ice cream/gelato/sorbet.

                                I will say that I don't think you can make a "healthy" frozen treat per se. These confections don't always need lots of fat or eggs, but they def. need a decent amount of sugar for good texture, mouthfeel, and scoopability. I say enjoy them in moderation; I sometimes just make a 1-1.5 pints if I want to test out alot of different flavors. I also love to make them to end dinner parties since guests really appreciate homemade ice cream and I get to have some w/o having to finish a whole quart. You can serve w/ some purchased cookies, fruit tart, toppings, etc.

                                That said, I can recommend two relatively healthy ones.

                                My strawberry balsamic yogurt gelato:

                                And the lemongrass ice cream recipe in Andrea Nguyen's "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" which uses milk, no eggs, and cornstarch as a thickener.

                                Now...care to share that dulce de leche recipe? Are you using a recipe book that you really like? Does anyone have opinions on David Lebovitz's new book, "The Perfect Scoop?" I'm seriously tempted to buy it...


                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                  There's a good dulce de leche ice cream recipe in the May issue of GOURMET, on page 102. I'll paraphrase--it couldn't be much simpler: Bring 2 cups of whole milk and a cup of heavy cream just to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 pound (1 2/3rds cup) dulce de leche (GOURMET specifies La Salamandra brand). Whisk in 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract and transfer the mixture to a metal bowl. Put the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir occasionally untilt he mixture chills, about 20 minutes. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream machine and freeze until almost firm, then fold in 3/4 cup of chopped toasted pecans. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for at least an hour.
                                  You'll end upw tih 1 1/2 quarts.

                                  1. re: Tom Steele

                                    This is the recipe I referred to. However, I don't use the prescribed dulce de leche. When I have time, I make my own. When I'm short on time, I use a Colombian brand of dulce de leche (Alpina) that I think is better than La Salamandra and much cheaper. I've also made it a banana-dulce de leche ice cream and that has worked out pretty well, too.

                                    1. re: glutton

                                      Thanks to you both. I remember seeing that recipe in Gourmet and wondering where to get that brand of dulce de leche. Glutton, how do you make yours?

                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                        In a water bath, I bake a couple cans of condensed milk for a few hours (3?) in a tightly wrapped pie tin. I add a bit of sea salt, too. The oven is not too hot -- around 300 degrees if my memory serves me well. When it comes out of the oven, I mix it up to get the smooth consistency. It does not tend to be as thick as some of the commercial brands at room temperature, but it holds up just fine when I use it in pies, ice cream, or on cookies. You should be able to find this recipe on Chowhound because it has been mentioned before.

                                2. We started creating sorbets out of smoothies. Literally blend your smoothie, run it thru the ice cream maker and set in freezer. No sugar, 'cept natures own :). You can substitute milk based smoothies with soy or rice milk, fat-free or low fat milk. Our current favorite is a chai latte soy sorbet.

                                  1. This is related, but maybe it will help. I came across some recipes for fat free sweetened condensed milk. The idea appealed to me because I never seem to have scm in the house when I need it, and it's not super easy to find the ff kind. Blend (in a blender) 1 cup of powdered milk (which turned out to be one envelop) with 2/3 cup sweet stuff (I used about 1/8 c sugar and the rest Splenda), 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 c boiling water. I became sold that that would be how I'd get scm for the rest of my life.

                                    Anyway, then I had some overripe bananas. So I made some scm and put the bananas in the same blender. I poured the whole thing into a storage container and froze it. MAN was that good!

                                    My point - make your "dairy matrix" this way, so you can control the amount of fat and sugar in it. Then add ingredients and/or flavorings.