'Quick' Serve!Since homemade ice cream is devoid of stabilizers, it's important to consume it as soon as possible. The longer you store it, the harder it gets.
There are many reasons why you should choose to make your own ice cream at home. Firstly, store-bought ones are laden with all kinds of artificial ingredients that you wouldn't want to even think about. Secondly, homemade ones give you the liberty to customize it in any way you like. Then again, homemade ones are far cheaper, and help keep your wallet happy.
If you thought preparing this luscious, cold, creamy dessert at home is a painstaking and time-consuming process, it's time to renew your mind. Homemade preparation is easy, and with some practice, you're sure to be whipping up fresh, creamy ice cream that will surely impress your family and friends. However, to prepare this decadent delight, you will need the help of certain tools. Let's take a look at these essentials.
Basic Tools for Making and Serving Ice Cream
Ice Cream Maker
An ice cream maker churns the liquid custard base, and it is this churning process that incorporates air into the custard, thereby, giving the ice cream its light texture. Moreover, it also breaks down any ice crystals that would otherwise give it an unappealing, grainy feel.
With the help of an ice cream maker, you can prepare soft, creamy ice cream easily. Without it, you will have to use the whisk-and-freeze method which requires increased effort.
There are various kinds of ice cream makers available in the market. The old-fashioned ones call for ice and rock salt, while the newer versions are motor-operated. Some fancier ones even come with separate spouts for adding the mix-ins, etc.
Depending on your budget and preference, choose a model.
Electric Hand Mixer
If you don't want to invest in an ice cream maker and are unsure about how long this homemade ice cream fad will last, then you can try out some recipes that help prepare this delicious treat with a regular electric hand mixer.
This electric hand mixer can be used to break down ice crystals and re-emulsify the mixture. Because of its speed, you can achieve the required consistency at a rapid rate.
Once the custard base or milk-sugar base has been frozen, this hand mixer is used to beat the frozen mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency. This is done to get rid of the ice crystals that have been formed during freezing. If not broken well, the ice crystals will result in grainy ice cream.
An electric mixer is also used to beat the eggs and sugar together before the custard is prepared.
If you don't have either an ice cream maker or a hand mixer, the whisk becomes your next best friend. Each time you freeze the mixture, the whisk helps you re-emulsify it to form lovely, creamy ice cream. However, be prepared for the large amounts of elbow grease you'll have to invest.
Freezing and whisking at regular intervals is what converts the milk mixture into a creamy scoop, instead of ice milk.
Make sure you own a strong whisk to suit the purpose.
Even if you own an ice cream maker, you still need a balloon whisk to beat the eggs and also to stir the base custard.
Most homemade ice cream recipes call for making a custard base. The base generally involves heating milk and sugar in a saucepan.
Heavy bottom saucepans are preferred because they ensure slow and even cooking.
Once the milk has been scalded, it is then gradually mixed with the beaten eggs to form a custard. The custard is then allowed to thicken in this saucepan.
Spatula and Spoon
These may sound like trivial tools, but they do play an important role in the preparation of this frozen dessert.
Use a whisk to combine your eggs and milk. Continuous whisking helps prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Once your custard base has been prepared, you can find out if the consistency is right by drawing a line across the rear of the spoon. If the line does not fade away, you know you've reached the right consistency.
Moreover, later when you keep freezing and whisking the mixture, there comes a point when it reaches a soft-serve consistency, wherein it begins to cling to the whisk, which then calls for a spatula for stirring the creamy mixture.
Some prefer to use a heat-resistant spatula to mix the custard.
Once the custard base has been prepared and cooled, it needs to be transferred into a shallow freezer-proof container, so as to be stored in the freezer.
A container with a lid is preferred; however, you can also use a plastic wrap to cover it.
Ensure your container is shallow because a shallow design helps the mixture freeze more quickly.
Metal containers conduct heat more quickly and allow your mixture to freeze at a more rapid rate, so you can opt for such containers.
Making ice cream, especially without an ice cream maker calls for freezing, whisking, and refreezing at regular intervals. To help you keep track of the time, get hold of a digital kitchen timer.
A timer will notify when it's time to take out the frozen mixture and whisk it.
You can also use the timer in your cell phone to keep track of the time.
This tool is required to blend the luscious fruits that you'll be adding into the base for flavoring.
Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and various other fruits are first pureed using a hand blender and then folded into the creamy mixture.
If you don't have a hand blender, you can also use a potato masher to mash ripe fruits. However, it's going to be a messy affair.
Once your custard base is ready, it's always better to run it through a sieve to get rid of tiny egg clumps that were formed while preparing the custard.
Straining helps ensure your final ice cream is smooth and creamy.
Moreover, you will also need a sieve to separate the fruit skin and pips while preparing the coulée or fruit puree.
A thermometer helps keep a tab on the temperature of the custard base, and notifies when it is ready to be taken off the heat.
Overheating can result in curdling or scrambling of the eggs. A thermometer helps measure the temperature and tells you that it's time to take it off the heat.
However, some prefer to use their instincts and tasting skills; nevertheless, for those of us who can't really rely on our instincts, getting a digital thermometer is a good idea.
There are various kinds of scoops available today. Some come with a press-and-release feature, while others come with pointed edges to scoop into frozen ice cream.
Purchase any one you like, but just make sure you dip it in tepid water, before every scoop. This will ensure easy scooping and beautifully rounded scoops.
Some come with heat conducting features that conduct the heat from your hands to the end of the scoop to make scooping easier. However, there's really no need for such fancy tools.
You can serve your ice cream in glass, plastic, ceramic, or even stainless steel bowls. Choose them according to your style and preference.
You can also use stylish glasses or even wine glasses to serve. Make sure you garnish it well.
To jazz up things even further, you can also serve it in edible bowls. Wafer or chocolate bowls are interesting ways to serve. Your family and friends are sure to love them.
If you choose to serve in cones, you need to purchase waffle or sugar cones from the store. Double scoop cones are also available, so if you want to serve two flavors together, get these cones.
These days, with innovation at its peak, you'll also find cups that are shaped in the form of cones, which are also neat.
If you have a waffle maker, you can prepare your own cones at home. Or else you can purchase the stainless steel cone molds that can be used to prepare nice and crispy sugar cones.
If you have a cream roll mold, you can use it to prepare your cones. If you want to try something new, try serving the ice cream in cream rolls!
Cone holders are excellent for parties and gatherings, wherein you can store your cones in an elegant fashion.
Once you've scooped the ice cream into the cones, just place them into the holder and simply place the holder onto the table.
Such a holder not only improves presentation, but also eliminates the hassle involved in serving cones to a large crowd. It's a blessing in disguise at kids' parties.
You don't need all the essentials mentioned above at the same time, so peruse through the list, understand their functions, and go for tools you think suit your preference. Even in terms of serving, start off with simple presentation techniques, and as you practice making and serving ice cream, you'll know what exactly you need to expand your repertoire. All the best!