When I was six or seven, I had a revelation. An ice cream revelation. Like most kids, I was a fan of the cool, creamy delight that is a scoop or two of ice cream on a summer day, but when our neighbors invited us over on one particularly hot afternoon, my mind was blown. Out on the back porch they had a crazy looking contraption with a large bucket, a metal insert and a formidable hand crank sticking out of the top. It was an ice cream churn, and after we all took turns working that crank for about 45 minutes, sugar, cream and strawberries churned in a sarcophagus of ice and salt were transformed into the best ice cream I had ever tasted. This was not the stuff that came in cartons from the Piggly Wiggly. It was rich and smooth and we actually made it. Homemade ice cream is magic, I tell you, and my perception of the dessert was forever changed.
The landscape of store-bought ice cream has changed significantly since those days. Premium brands with a myriad of flavors we’d never have imagined now line the freezer cases at any grocery. Still, nothing comes close to that ice cream we conjured up on the back porch that day, and there are few pleasures that compare to churning our own ice cream at home.
Making ice cream at home is easier than it was back in the day. Modern ice cream makers take the labor of hand-churning out of the equation — no rock salt or ice is needed — and we can’t help but get clever with the flavors. What remains the same is the magic.
This recipe uses fresh strawberries and some chocolate bars I had on hand for some summertime s’mores, but the ice cream base is the same no matter what flavors you’d like to churn this summer. Homemade ice cream is a family-friendly project even the little ones will be excited about. Eat your hearts out, Ben and Jerry.
Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
6 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
2 cups strawberries, hulled
2 cups bar chocolate, chopped
The basic ingredients for ice cream are the same, but the varieties are endless.
There are plenty of quick recipes for making homemade ice cream, but getting it right takes a bit longer. Starting with a rich, custard base make with heavy cream and plenty of egg yolks means a little cooking at the front end, but is well worth the effort.
Egg yolks give homemade ice cream a smooth, creamy texture.
Beat 6 egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar together in a large bowl and set aside. Egg yolks aren’t part of every recipe, but they will ensure the result is rich, creamy and smooth.
Stir 1/2 cup sugar and 2 cups heavy cream together in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken.
Once the cream and sugar reach a temperature 180 degrees, remove from heat. The cream will heat fairly quickly, so keep an eye on it. The mix will begin to froth, but do not allow to boil.
Whisk a little bit of the heated cream into egg yolks to temper, then slowly add the rest of the cream, whisking constantly, until fully combined and frothy.
Return blend to saucepan and cook at medium heat until a custard consistency is reached and mixture clings to coat the back of an inserted spoon or spatula (around 170 degrees).
Remove from heat and whisk in pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon vanilla and 2 cups whole milk.
Transfer ice cream base into an airtight container and refrigerate at least two hours before using.
When preparing to make ice cream, combine 2 cups strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl and mash with a potato masher and allow to rest until it’s time to add it to churning ice cream.Whole strawberries sound good in theory, but will be icy in the final product, so a good mashing is recommended.
Transfer ice cream base into ice cream maker and proceed using manufacturers instructions. Back in the day, most ice cream makers required the the hopper be packed in rock salt and laboriously churned, but most modern machines churn automatically and do not require messy salt to freeze.
As the ice cream thickens and nears completion, add macerated strawberries and 2 cups of broken chocolate bars. Chocolate chips can be used in place of candy bars, but the texture of the finished ice cream will be less appealing.
Once ice cream is thick and smooth, remove from ice cream maker. Although it seems like the job is done, it’ll still need a little time in the freezer to reach the desired, scoop-able consistency.
Pack ice cream into airtight containers and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to keep trapped air from forming ice crystals on the ice cream as it freezes. Seal with container lid and place in freezer at least two hours before serving.
Once you’ve mastered this luscious ice cream base, the fun really begins. This strawberry chip ice cream makes spectacular use of seasonal strawberries, but this base can be used to make ice cream to suit any taste by replacing the strawberries and chocolate used here with your favorite flavors, adjusting amounts as desired.
Are you hooked? You can make the base for this ice cream up to a week in advance and store in the refrigerator until you’re in the mood to whip up a batch of fresh and creamy ice cream. We rarely make it past day two. You can also make ahead for a backyard barbecue this summer.