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Mar 9, 2010 09:48 PM

Benefits of "cooking" the ice cream mix

I've been making ice cream for a while and really wonder why bother heating the ice cream mix on the stove (heating up the cream, eggs, even the fruit, etc.) I'm assuming (hoping!) the brown eggs I buy don't have salmonella,if eggs are included in the recipe.

Ice cream makers know that the sugar needs to be dissolved with the cream (I generally avoid milk). This raises my next question: why not use cane juice instead of sugar? The thinking behind this is that "cooking" any of the ingredients leads to a loss of flavor. It becomes all the more important if/when I can find a raw or low-pasteurized cream and do not want to dilute the quality of the dairy products.

Has anyone experimented with this? I might just "go for it" but wanted to see if anyone has made ice cream with cane juice.

I actually have done something similar with sorbet. (Just take water with sugar and make simple syrup, then add fruit. Some recipes actually call for boiling the fruit..yikes!!)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I don't make ice cream, but I will address a few of your points anyway:

    1) While salmonella in eggs is extremely rare, brown eggs are no safer than white eggs. Brown eggs are not healthier, more "natural," safer, or better in any way. They just come from different colored hens.

    2) If you're worried about diluting your mixture, why use cane juice? That just adds extra water to the mix.

    3) Cooking ingredients doesn't necessarily mean loss of flavor. Although I'm no ice cream maker, I suspect you heat the mixture to facilitate thickening. I can't make a successful creme anglaise without heating it to thicken the egg yolks.

    1 Reply
    1. As I understand it, there's an enzyme in milk products that's eliminated by heating to scalding. Now why you want that enzyme eliminated I don't know.

      If you're OK with raw egg (I am), Ben & Jerry's vanilla base is delicious and super easy. I keep a pitcher of it in the fridge in the summer and pour an indeterminate amount out to add to puréed fresh fruit. Even without the fruit, it's my son's favorite vanilla.

      (Rainey's version)
      Yield: 1 quart

      • 2 large eggs
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
      • 1 cup milk

      Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

      Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

      My Notes:

      Superfine sugar dissolves in the eggs quickly and saves your arm muscles.

      I also add a pinch of salt. For vanilla I add vanilla paste. These additions of vanilla paste and salt also work well with fruit pieces or purée.

      If you want fruit pieces rather than purée, best to macerate the pieces in sugar overnight so that they stay soft in the ice cream instead of turning into frozen tooth-seeking rocks.

      This recipe is easily doubled. If you freeze half as vanilla you can add other flavors to the second half. You can also keep half of the liquid base available in the fridge for several days for a second batch.

      Brown sugar can be substituted for 1/3 of the sugar. This boosts the flavor profile without being particularly detectable. Or use exclusively brown sugar for Brown Sugar Ice Cream.

      Needless to say, you can also fold in anything your little heart desires -- worked for Ben & Jerry! -- like brownie pieces, chocolate chunks, fudge or other sauces. I do it by layering frozen ice cream and additions when I transfer it to my freezer storage container and then they don't get broken up during aggitation of the ice cream maker.

      1. You don't have to heat the mix, but it does help to bind some of the water as a custard and inhibit ice crystal formation. This makes a smoother, richer ice cream. Egg yolks are an emulsifier as well. Scalding the milk, if you do that, in theory does something to the proteins which creates a less icey product, but I haven't found one clear answer - everyone gives different reasons. there are lots of fun food science things with ice cream and custards but as I understand it there are many things that are still debated - like why resting the ice cream custard overnight helps make a better ice cream.

        1. I've been making ice cream regularly for about 25 years. Got started because I wanted to avoid gMBh in the finished product, but now, there are other issues, not to mention that my ice cream gets raves no commercial ice cream does. I make a cooked custard for almost all of my flavors.

          <As I understand it, there's an enzyme in milk products that's eliminated by heating to scalding. Now why you want that enzyme eliminated I don't know. > for digestibility, that's why. Anyone who suffers from lactose intolerance (not the severe kind, obviously) will have much less problems with a product made with "cooked" milk.

          I use 3 parts whole, creamtop milk and 1 part heavy pasteurized (NOT ultra-) heavy cream. The milk is so rich that when I've used 2x2, the ice cream is unappealingly tongue-coating.

          I don't cook fruit for sherbets or sorbets.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChefJune

            I only cook fruit that would oxidize down the road. Pears for instance, will yield a brownish sorbet/ice cream if you don't cook them first.
            Strawberries, raspberries, etc I'm right with you. No cooking.

          2. The recipe booklet that came with my Donvier ice cream maker included non-cooked, eggless ice creams. It only makes a quart at a time; the ice cream was never around in the freezer long enough for ice to be a problem. Those with custard base ARE richer, but eggless ones are plenty good too. Mostly I made sherbet and sorbet, anyway!