Chosen Frozen

Early last summer, after paying $4 for a pint of ice cream, I did a quick mental calculation and was horrified to realize what I might spend over the next few months feeding my habit. So I bought a small ice cream maker and have been happily turning out ice creams and sorbets on a regular basis ever since.

I had made ice cream previously but always in the big hand-cranked or electric machines that require ice and salt and are a huge production to use. The newer countertop machines don’t take up much space, are infinitely easier and quieter to operate and don’t require either ice or salt. All you do is place a small canister in the freezer, and after the sealed coolant is frozen, you’re ready to churn ice cream. The one I have, a Cuisinart, makes a quart to a quart-and-a-half of ice cream and takes 30 minutes or less to do its job.

I just keep the canister in the freezer so I can make ice cream or sorbet on a whim, and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing around with ingredients and flavorings. The following recipes, which are some of my favorites, are very simple to make. Only a couple require you to turn on the stove and then only briefly. I prefer a smooth ice cream to one with chunks of fruits or berries, so the instructions call for completely pureeing the ingredients, but you can make adjustments for individual preferences. All of these recipes call for some liquor or liqueur, sometimes for flavor and in all cases to improve the texture because alcohol keeps the mixture from freezing rock-solid. These ice creams and sorbets are also not as sweet as many commercial brands. For storing, I prefer pint freezer containers with screw-top lids, but the contents disappear pretty quickly around here.

Brandied Peach Ice Cream
For many, peach ice cream is the essence of summer. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this adult variation on the theme.

2 pounds peaches (about 5-6 large peaches)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Peel and pit peaches; cut into chunks. Place all ingredients in the blender, and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 1/4 quarts.

Strawberry Ice Cream
Strawberry is another summer favorite. There’s just enough orange liqueur in this version to accent the flavor of the berries.

1 pound strawberries
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

Hull and wash strawberries. Place all ingredients in the blender, and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 1/4 quarts.

Ginger Ice Cream
This is probably my favorite: luscious sweet cream with the refreshing tang of ginger. It’s very sprightly and uplifting on a hot afternoon or at the end of a meal.

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons vodka

Combine milk, sugar and ginger in the blender, and puree until the sugar is dissolved and the ginger is very fine. Add cream and vodka, stir, and refrigerate until cold. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Key Lime Ice Cream
If you like Key lime pie, you’ll like this. Serve it with sliced and sugared strawberries.

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh-squeezed Key lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated Key lime zest
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vodka

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

Chicory Coffee Ice Cream
If you plan on eating this at night and are worried about coffee keeping you awake, use decaf coffee and chicory.

2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup ground coffee and chicory
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlùa
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat milk and sugar almost to the boiling point, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn off the heat, add ground coffee, stir, cover, and infuse for 15 minutes. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth. Add cream, coffee liqueur and vanilla to mixture, stir, and refrigerate until cold. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Ice Cream
If you’re a fan of Nutella, the delicious, habit-forming chocolate-and-hazelnut spread, you’re bound to like this ice cream. It remains unusually soft after churning but becomes extra-hard in the freezer. Go figure.

1 13-ounce jar Nutella
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico

Combine all ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Mango Sorbet
This is an ideal cooling treat in the summer and a snap to make. I’ve specified the Jumex brand from Mexico, which is widely available. Other labels might require a different amount of sugar.

4 cups Jumex mango nectar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons Key lime juice
4 teaspoons golden rum, such as Mount Gay Rum

Combine all ingredients, and mix to dissolve sugar. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

Guava Sorbet
Again, another brand might need more or less sugar. I like a scoop of guava sorbet served with a scoop of mango sorbet on a hot day.

4 cups Jumex guava nectar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons Key lime juice
4 teaspoons vodka

Combine all ingredients, and mix to dissolve sugar. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

Gingery Honeydew Melon Sorbet
Ginger syrup will do wonders for a disappointing melon, and there seems to be no end of those. If you’re fortunate enough to find a melon at its peak of ripeness and sweetness, you won’t need all of the sugar called for in this recipe.

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
8 slices fresh ginger
1 large honeydew melon
1 tablespoon Key lime juice
2 tablespoons vodka
Combine water, sugar and ginger in a small pan, and bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve sugar. Cover, turn off heat, and infuse for 30 minutes. Remove ginger, and chill syrup.

Halve melon, and remove the seeds. Cut melon into wedges, remove rind, and cut melon into chunks. Puree melon in blender until smooth. You should have about 4 cups of melon puree. Add lime juice, vodka and half of the ginger syrup. Taste for sweetness, and add additional syrup to taste. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

Blood Orange Sorbet
This is a beautiful red sorbet with a very distinctive and haunting flavor.

2 cups fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons vodka

Combine all ingredients, and stir to dissolve sugar. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.

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