Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

I’ve been tempted to buy an ice cream maker for several years, but I refrained from getting one until last week out of fear that such a device could enable an unprecedented body mass. As I did a bit of research on the categories of models available for home use, I noticed that ice cream making has very little to do with instant gratification. The old-fashioned ice-and-rock-salt machines produce a batch of soft ice cream in less than an hour, but I do not have a freezer large enough to harbor enough ice to make this option practical.

Getting a model with a frozen bowl looked to be the better option. These machines have a double-walled bowl filled with a sealed coolant solution that needs to be frozen solid before churning a batch. Since I have a KitchenAid Mixer, I considered getting the ice cream maker attachment, but my daughter noticed that the Cuisinart ICE-45 soft serve machine had a similar capacity with the added fun of extrusion into cones or bowls and automatic mix-in delivery.

I picked the ICE-45 for its fun factor, and it arrived over the weekend:

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Every time I get a new small appliance, I can’t resist testing if some of the recommendations in the owner’s manual should be taken seriously. I was one of those fools who had to see for myself that metal really should not be microwaved. With the ice cream maker, I learned that everything involved needs to be as cold as possible, especially the frozen bowl. The bowl really should be stored in a freezer for at least 24 hours between batches, unless your goal is to make a treat with the consistency of a melting milkshake.

Our first batch was the basic vanilla ice cream in the owner’s manual. My machine has a 1.5 quart capacity, and the ice cream recipes scaled for it tend to have 3 cups of liquid. The basic vanilla recipe had 3/4 cup of sugar, and the results were too sweet.

Today I tried making vanilla soft serve again, and the combination I used had a taste and texture that was quite similar to commercial ice cream stand soft serve vanilla. In the future, I plan on experimenting with lower fat, lower added sugar, and nondairy recipes. Today’s concoction was a bit indulgent, but I was glad the result was reasonably sweet. Learning to make an ice cream with smooth, tiny ice crystals is a challenge akin to baking a cake with tender crumb. It requires trial-and-error, and this trial produced decent crystals for a recipe that is not full fat.

Vanilla Soft Serve

Makes 10 1/2 cup servings

2 cups half and half

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup white sugar

1 t vanilla extract

dash salt

Mix all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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