How To Make Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker

You can make good ice cream without an ice cream maker. There are a number of ways to accomplish this and if you click here you can see the collection of posts I am accumulating on this topic. But in this post I want to share with you what I think is the single best technique I have found so far. It is simple to implement. You don’t need any special tools. And it results in a smooth textured, easy to scoop, even after hard freezing in your freezer ice cream whose flavor possibilities are open ended, limited to your imagination.

There are of course tradeoffs. This recipe/technique is based on sweetened condensed milk. Ice creams based on condensed milk have a fundamentally different taste and texture profile from simple eggless American style ice creams and egg custard based French style ice creams. They are their own third style of true dairy based ice cream.  I would characterize their taste as slightly carmelized, cooked rather than fresh tasting.  I am by no means, damning them with faint praise.  Vanilla-Cardamom, Vietnamese Ice Coffee are just two of a number of flavors based on condensed milk that I love.  I describe versions of them using this technique below.  Fruit ice creams in most cases, are better served with Philadelphia and custard based styles (not to mention ices) made in an ice cream maker.

With this technique you can not make vegan, dairy-free, or sugar free ice creams. You might be thinking that you could make it sugar free by replacing the condensed milk with evaporated, but unfortunately a cup of evaporated milk still has 23 grams or so of sugar. At some point I will post on blender, frozen banana based, dairy-free alternatives.

Lastly if you want to eat your ice cream as soon as you are done making it and/or you want to explore all the many varieties of frozen desserts you can make at home, including the very best ice creams, you are still going to need an ice cream maker.  With these caveats in mind, the method I’m about to describe is the best way to convince yourself that making homemade ice cream is easy, fun and well worth the half hour it takes to prepare.

I found this simple, clever technique on the Eagle Brands website. If you are a fellow fan of sweetened condensed milk, the website is worth checking out for the large number of recipes there.

Why This Technique Works

First it is based on sweetened condensed milk, which is in some ways the perfect ice cream base. It has a very high sugar content, a very low water content, and is over 8% butterfat by weight, more than whole milk. All of those attributes help a great deal in creating a smooth, non-icy ice cream.

The Second reason, and this is the clever part, is that the recipe calls for whipping the heavy cream used to incorporate air and then folding rather than mixing, the whipped cream into the condensed milk to keep as much of that air as possible. We don’t tend to think about air as ingredient, but in ice cream it is. In commercial ice cream air can be up to 50% of what you eat. Even premium ice creams are often 25% air. If you use an ice cream maker at home you are also incorporating some air into you ice cream. As a general rule when buying ice cream more air means lower quality. Having said that, some air in the mix will add body, contribute to a light smooth texture, and help create an easy to scoop result; all which is what happens in this case.

Creating the base is very simple.

  1. Pour one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk in medium mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in your flavorings.
  3. In another medium size mixing bowl, whip to stiff peaks, 2 cups of heavy cream.
  4. Fold whipped cream and any mix-ins into the condensed milk.
  5. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Here are the links to videos and recipes on the Eagle website, that walk you through the process. Please watch the vanilla one which is very short and shows the basic method.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream

Cafe Ole’ and Butter Pecan Versions

More Eagle Brand Ice Cream Recipes

Many of these recipes a pretty bad, I’m recommending them mostly to help you get a feel for the technique. You don’t really want to use Folgers coffee or Smucker’s chocolate syrup as basic ingredients unless you are snowed in.

Here are some ideas to help you get more from using this method.

General

First and foremost, use the freshest, highest quality heavy cream you can.

As with all ice cream recipes ingredients can be halved or doubled to make as little or as much as you would like. With this technique you could actually make one serving if you wanted to.

An ice cream based on a full can of sweetened condensed milk, even with two cups of heavy cream is going to be very sweet. Personally I think a better ratio is 2 cups of cream with 1 cup of condensed milk. Even that is pretty sweet! Sweetness is a very personal preference and there is no getting around a little experimentation if the basic recipe turns out to be to sweet for you.

This technique requires gentle folding together of the ingredients. Check out this short video for a good demonstration of what this means. Remember to fold in ingredients one at a time.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Use a vanilla bean

  1. The first thing I would do is replace the vanilla extract with a vanilla bean.
  2. Split the bean with a knife, scrap out the seeds and add everything to 2 cups of heavy cream in medium heavy bottomed pot.
  3. Heat on the stove over a medium heat, until steaming or you just start to see bubbles. Stir while heating
  4. Transfer the cream to refrigerator friendly bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour or so until the cream is cold again.
  5. Once the cream is cold, whip it to stiff peaks.
  6. Pour between 1 cup and one entire 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a medium size bowl.
  7. Gently fold whipped cream and any mix-ins into the condensed milk until the color of the mixture is uniform.
  8. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Add a complementary spice.

Readers of this blog know what’s coming, Cardamom! Cardamom vanilla ice cream is one of my current favorite flavors. In step 3 above add 1 tablespoon of freshly ground cardamom before heating the cream. If you don’t want bits of cardamom (I actually like them) in your resulting ice cream, run the cream through a sieve between steps 4 and 5.

A few other spices that go well with vanilla, alone or in combination, and just to scratch the surface, are nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Google flavor combinations or look for baking recipes that use vanilla for clues to flavors that might work. Add somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, and adjust by taste before freezing.

Mix-Ins

Mix-ins are solid ingredients (like nuts or raisins) that can be added to ice cream while its freezing. With this method they would be folded in when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined. At some point I will post a comprehensive list of what can be added, but basicly it can be anything that can be made bite size and which doesn’t not freeze to a rock hard, tooth breaking consistency, after your ice cream has spent a night in your freezer. What freezes like that? Anything with a high water content.

Mix-ins are the base of two ice cream favorites which you can easily make with one of the vanilla ice cream recipes above.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Take 1/2 – 1 cup of coarsely chopped Oreos or the cookie of your choice. Fold them in when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

The cheater way to make this is to buy a tube of prepared cookie dough at the supermarket, coarsely chop into bite size or smaller pieces, fold in 1/2 – 1 cup when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.  Cookie doughs are easy to make and there are tons of recipes on the web.  Here is one from David Lebovitz’s traditional ice cream recipe that should work fine.

Cookie Dough

  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Combine the butter and brown sugar together in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Stir in the flour until incorporated, then add the vanilla and chocolate chips.
  3. Shape into a 1/2 inch thick disk, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until firm.
  4. Chop dough into small bite size pieces and fold in 1/2 – 1 cup when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.
  5. Bake a few cookies with what is left over.

 

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Take 1/2 – 1 cup of chocolate chips or your favorite chocolate bar coarsely chopped, and fold in when the whipped cream and condensed milk are combined.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Actually this will work for just about any fruit. If using frozen fruit, let thaw first.

  1. Puree chopped fruit in a blender until smooth. Use enough fruit to end up with about a cup.
  2. Remove and add back to the blender one half cup of puree. Save the other half to use as a topping when the ice cream is served.
  3. Depending on how sweet you want your ice cream, add to the blender between one cup and one full 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Pulse until well combined. This will also add a little air to the mix.
  4. In a medium size bowl whip to stiff peaks, 2 cups of heavy cream.
  5. Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk until combined.
  6. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

There are a number of ways to intensify fruit flavors.

Use a full cup of fruit. Unfortunately this will add a lot of additional water to the mix, which will probably give you an icy ice cream using this technique. I haven’t tried this, so if you do, please let me know how it works out. Adding a 1 teaspoon of vodka might solve the problem.

Add a teaspoon or less, just a little bit, of the same flavor jam to your mix. Many ice cream makers will view this as heresy. BTW try this when making milkshakes.

Add a drop or two of a complimentary, organic extract or essential oil. Frontier makes a nice strawberry flavor extract. Again use just a tiny bit.

Chocolate Ice Cream

This such a huge topic and this post is getting way to long. Here is one simple suggestion for making a basic chocolate ice cream with this base. This one uses cocoa powder. Every cocoa powders tastes significantly different. Experiment. I currently use Penzey’s Natural Cocoa powder. It is a very strong, dark chocolate and even though I really like it, I’m using it primarily because my spouse bought a bag for her own baking when ordering spices. You might like a lighter version or a milk chocolate.

Use either the original vanilla recipe or the one I describe above but use either half a vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

In step 2 of the Vanilla recipe above whisk in 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Proceed with that recipe.

If you like dark chocolate ice cream, I recommend adding a shot of espresso or other dark coffee. Which leads me to, last but not least…

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

As with the Vanilla-Cardomom above, I think this is an amazing Ice Cream. The idea is from David Leibovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. If anything begs to be turned into an ice cream it has to be Vietnamese Iced Coffee. For those of you who haven’t tasted one before, it consists of very strong coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk and half and half or cream, served over ice. Very strong, very sweet. Sound familiar?

  1. Pour between 1 cup and one entire 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk into a medium size bowl.
  2. Whisk in up to 1/2 cup of brewed espresso or dark, strong coffee.
  3. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and refrigerate for an hour or so until the cream is cold.
  4. Once cold, in another medium bowl whip two cups of heavy cream to stiff peaks.
  5. Gently fold whipped cream and any mix-ins into the condensed milk until the color of the mixture is uniform.
  6. Pour into a 9 x 5 baking pan (1.5 quart freezer read container), cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.

 

Well the above should get you started. I would love to here from you in the comments below if you try this method.

 

Strawberry Banana Sorbet


If you develop the habit of reading a lot of recipes at some point you cross over into a place where you start appreciating the creativeness of a recipe as an end to itself, as opposed to simply being a set of instructions that result in a hopefully delicious food. This is one aspect of cooking connoisseurship that I think sneaks up on most people. Maybe this is an unintended consequence of connoisseurship in general, the gradual appreciation of things that you had no idea were even there to be appreciated. I think this is mostly a good thing, life is as much process as it is destination and anything that helps you experience and appreciate that is good. On the other hand cooking is about creating food that is delicious or at least satisfying in some way and hopefully that doesn’t get lost.

When you read a lot a cooking blogs like I do, there is yet another layer of connoisseurship you end up developing and that is for the creativeness and attention to detail people pay to their food blog designs. Some people (unfortunately not me!) present their recipes in a way that, to be cliche, is a truly a feast for your eyes. The photography and general design almost compels you to drop everything and start cooking whatever is in the post.

Well that was a long introduction to this sublimely smart and simple recipe for strawberry sorbet with sweet mini-paratha rolls. The recipe uses frozen strawberries, frozen bananas, sugar and a little yogurt and the results are fantastic. The little parathas match the sorbet perfectly. There is no way whoever you make this for won’t be blown away. You couldn’t ask for simpler recipes and you don’t even need an ice cream maker for the sorbet. Last but not least I really love this website. Check out how beautifully this recipe post is laid out and how inviting the photography is. Hopefully you will be as inspired to try making some as I was.

Thank you Lakshmi!

Click here for the recipe details for Strawberry Sorbet & Sweet Paratha on Pure Vege

 

01/15/2013
Strawberry Banana Sorbet

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
straberries, banana, yogurt / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 20 min
Freeze Time: 20 min
Total Time: 40 min

One Ingredient Chocolate Mousse


 

OK so this isn’t an ice cream recipe, but this vegan chocolate mousse recipe is so neat and so spectacularly simple I couldn’t resist posting it.  Hey there is no reason you can’t serve it with ice cream!  By itself this has got to be the most nutritionally politically correct dessert yet created. It is Sugar-free, dairy-free, low-fat (well relatively speaking), heck bittersweet chocolate is good for you!

Created by a French molecular gastronomer (I want that on my business card!); here is the whole thing, ready? Take 265 grams / 9.4 ounces of bitter sweet chocolate and 1 cup of water combined over a medium heat, pour into a bowl sitting in an ice bath and whip with a whisk to add air for 3 minutes or until stiff. That is it.  Here is Melissa Clark’s video on the New York Times website.

and here is the associated article:

One Ingredient Chocolate Mousse by Melissa Clark on The New York Times Diner’s Journal

 

02/13/2013
One Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
Chocolate, water / 1 pint

Mix Prep Time: 10 min
Freeze Time: 13 min
Total Time: 23 min

Frozen Banana Ice Cream with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough


Angela on Oh She Glows describes this recipe as kind of her healthy homage to the Dairy Queen Blizzard. If I was Dairy Queen I would be worried. This has all the taste and gratification of it’s inspiration and then some! Plus it really is much healthier and very low fat. I have been on a bit of a frozen banana ice cream jag this week, but what can I say, it makes a great base for dairy-free, and all the way vegan ice creams; as this recipe is.

Angela’s inspired variation is a very nice, raw chocolate chip cookie dough, that she both blends into the base and forms into delicious little balls that get added to the finished ice cream when served. As you might expect, the ice cream itself has a soft serve consistency and probably should be made and served right away. I’m not sure how well it will hard freeze in your freezer.

Though there is no such thing as an ice cream kids don’t love, this strikes me as one that would go over big time and be healthy to boot.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ‘Blizzard’ Recipe on On She Glows

 

01/15/2013
Frozen Banana Ice Cream with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
frozen bananas, chocolate chip cookie dough / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 30 min
Freeze Time: 15 min
Total Time: 45 min

Nutella Banana Ice Cream for Kids of All Ages


I have to stop using the expression the simplest ice cream recipe in the world because inevitably the next day I find one even simpler. But this surprisingly tasty, non-dairy, egg-less, no ice cream maker required, two ingredient, banana ice cream has to be getting close to the edge of simplicity. Unless someone has a magic spell for conjuring up a hot fudge sundae out of thin air or for instantly freezing cream, I am going to say this the simplest ice cream recipe in the world! Oh wait you can instantly freezing cream using the liquid nitrogen method, doah! Well if you have a magic spell to share please post it in the comments below.

Bethany Taylor on From My Kitchen to Yours has a serious sweet tooth and you can read how to make this neat little recipe there.

 
Something Simply Sweet on From My Kitchen to Yours

One variation I would try, is to add a little cold heavy cream in the mixing process; not much, maybe a tablespoon or two, just to add some dairy flavor. Greek yogurt, sour cream or non-dairy milks would work also. If this appeals to you add it a little bit at a time so that you don’t end up with soup. If you do, no worries, add even more and its Nutella banana milkshake time!

A last thought, as I indicate in the title, I think kids would love to be involved in making this recipe. The magic of bananas turning into ice cream can’t help but be fun and surprising to them.

02/06/2013
Banana Nutella Ice Cream

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
bananas, nutella / 1 cup

Mix Prep Time: 20 min
Freeze Time: 20 min
Total Time: 40 min

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cardamom Vanilla Ice Cream

This is an easy as can be recipe, that makes one pint of silky smooth, sweet, homemade vanilla ice cream without eggs. Just combine the ingredients in a blender and freeze in your ice cream maker. On the other hand I suspect (note suspect, I haven’t actually tried this yet), that an ice cream maker might not even be required. Just mix everything together, store in your freezer, stir once an hour for the first few hours, and in 4 hours or so you will have ice cream. In that scenario you might need to use heavy cream rather than half and half, but this remains to be seen.  Another no ice cream maker required method, especially if you dont want to wait hours, would be to make it using the Ziploc bag method described here.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cardamom Vanilla Ice Cream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half and half (or heavy cream, or milk and heavy cream as you desire.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
Instructions
  1. Grind the cardamom seeds in spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Freshly ground cardamom explodes with flavor!
  2. Add half and half and cardamom to the blender.
  3. Open condensed milk can with a can opener and pour into a blender. It is much easier to use a spatula and scoop out the whole can with the entire top removed.
  4. Blend the mix until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  5. If you have a built-in freezer/compressor ice cream maker add the mix to it and freeze. This should take about 15 - 20 minutes.
  6. If you have a freezer canister model. Pre-chill using one of these methods.
  7. Eat and/or store in a freezer proof container in your freezer. This ice cream stores quite well, getting a little harder in texture but still remaining soft and easy to scoop.

 

Serving Suggestions

Because it is so sweet, a scoop of this ice cream goes amazingly well with anything based on dark chocolate.  For example, it is a perfect side to a slice of flour-less chocolate cake.

 

Notes and Variations

I should sub-title this recipe the simplest ice cream base in the world because really that is what it is. You can see how easy the basic foundation of half condensed milk and half cream/milk is to experiment with. Depending on the strength of the flavors you want to add, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of any spice could be used in place of the cardamom. Up to 1/4 cup of a fruit puree or chocolate or caramel syrup are other possibilities. Keep in mind that even without added sugar this is a very sweet ice cream, so flavors that balance that are the way to go. Melting a 1/2 once of bittersweet chocolate in half of the half and half before combining is good example.

Update 4/14/13

A recent version of this ice cream that worked out well,  used these ingredient quantities. It has a nice texture, is just sweet enough for me and freezes fairly well.

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

2 cups of heavy cream

2 cups of whole milk

1 Tablespoon of cornstarch

1 vanilla bean

1 Tablespoon freshly ground cardamom

In this variation I cooked the base by bringing the heavy cream, milk vanilla bean and cardamom to boil for 4 minutes.
Took the pot off the burner for a moment while I stirred in the cornstarch which had been earlier dissolved into 1/4 cup of the milk.
Then I Cooked the mix for around a minute until it thickened from the corn starch.
Then I added it directly to my compressor ice cream maker to churn.
If you are using a freezer canister ice cream maker you need to chill the mix first.

 
Google/

How to Make Ice Cream In a Bag with Kids

I want to say up front that I haven’t tried this recipe myself yet.  But I have gotten so many requests for it along the lines of “Have you heard about making ice cream in a bag?” or “My kids made ice cream in a Ziploc bag at school.” that I decided to go ahead and post this.  As you will see its a very simple process and I have it on good authority that kids love the simple magic of it.  Each Ziploc bag makes a cup of ice cream (2 servings).  I can see this as a fun kid’s party activity. Though come to think of it 15 kids and liquids hmm…   PLEASE NOTE STEP 5:  This mixture gets very, very cold while freezing.

Note:

Since I have published this I have gotten feedback from friends that this technique works quite well. See the videos at the end of the post. If you don’t have an ice cream maker I urge you to try this method. You should be able to make up to pint of any recipe on this site with no difficulty especially if you use rock salt rather than table salt.

Materials

  • 1 quart size, freezer ready, Ziploc bag
  • 1 gallon size, freezer ready, Ziploc bag
  • 3/4 cups of table salt. Rock or Kosher works even better.
  • 2 cups of ice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Process

  1. Add all the ingredients to the quart Ziploc bag.  Try to remove some of the air and seal it securely. Mix the ingredients together by gently shaking and rocking the bag.  “Gentle” may want to be emphasized here.
  2. Add the ice into the gallon ziplocTM bag.
  3. Add the salt (sodium chloride) to the bag of ice.
  4. Place the sealed ice cream bag inside the gallon bag of ice and salt. Seal the gallon bag securely.
  5. Gently rock the gallon bag from side to side. It’s best to hold it by the top seal or to have gloves or a cloth between the bag and your hands because the bag will be cold enough to damage your skin.
  6. Keep rocking for between 10-15 minutes at which point the mixture should have solidified into ice cream.
  7. Serve. This is a no lose activity because at worst you will end up with a vanilla “milk shake” and happy kids irregardless of how solid the ice cream actually ends up getting.

Why it works.

Ice needs energy to melt, to phase change from a solid to a liquid.  It draws that energy out of the ice cream mix (and little hands if they aren’t holding the bag by the zipper seam!) causing it to get cold. Adding salt to the ice lowers it’s temperature of freezing so that even more energy than usual is needed to get it to melt.  This cause the ice to get colder and draw out more energy, faster from the ice cream mixture causing it to freeze.

This recipe is based on one by  , in the Science Projects section of About.com.   You can read the full post here.

Update

My friends Kristi and Alex decided to try this out with their son Max and as you can see from the short iPhone videos below the process works as advertised. They doubled the recipe and added some thawed out frozen strawberries. I don’t see why you couldn’t make any recipe on this website using this method.

Max tumbling the ice cream while it freezes.

The moment of truth.

Enjoying the fruits of their labor.

The Best Chocolate Ice Cream You Will Ever Eat


So this is quite a claim is it not? Cenk, the food blogger behind Cafe Fernando is a big time, serious, foodie chocoholic. So don’t take his boast lightly. When you visit his website you will be impressed.

Some interesting things about this recipe:

  • It uses a sweetened condensed milk base, which the more I experiment with, the more I am thinking of as a completely seperate category of true ice creams. The textural qualities it creates are unique.
  • No additional sugar is used so all the sweetness comes from the condensed milk.
  • This should be obvious, but you will want to use the highest quality bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder you can.
  • You don’t need an ice cream maker to make this ice cream! However by all means use your machine if you want to serve it more quickly.
  • I don’t know about it being THE BEST, but the reward for effort ratio is very high. It is a simple recipe that results in great ice cream.
  • As Cenk points our do not use more than 2 tablespoons of American corn starch which is different in action from the Turkish version he used.

 
The Best and Creamiest Chocolate Ice Cream You’ll Ever Have Recipe at Cafe Fernando

The Best Chocolate Ice Cream You Will Ever Eat

Primary Ingredients/Quantity:
Chocolate / 1 quart

Mix Prep Time: 30 min
Freeze Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hour