The Surprising Ingredient That Will Improve Your Ice Cream

Save a nip for your pint.

July 20, 2020

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Making your own home-churned ice cream is a roller coaster adventure — you won’t know the flavor, texture and scoopability of your ice cream until it’s actually frozen, churned, cone-ready ice cream.

Rather than leave the outcome to chance, aim for your sundae best with tips from the actual experts. On the Food Network Kitchen app, Big Gay Ice Cream’s Doug Quint shares his must-know secrets to your own smooth homemade scoops. In two separate classes, he prepares a classic vanilla as well as a rich chocolate, sharing his tips, then blending each finished ice cream into shakes to show their versatility.

There are plenty of worthwhile tips — freeze your ice cream bowl for a full 36 hours for the best results, for example. But the chocolate class holds a valuable secret ingredient: a dash of orange liqueur.

Instead of creating a base using egg custard for his chocolate ice cream, Doug dissolves sugar in a base of milk and heavy cream, then adds salt, melted chocolate and cocoa powder.

The alcohol comes into it for two reasons. First, taste: The splash of orange is a great complement to the chocolate, and who doesn’t like a teensy bit of liquor with dessert? (The bylaws from my mom’s side of the family tree practically mandate that a generous glug of liqueur punch up everything from pie to whipped cream to ice cream.)

But the most-important reason for the liqueur is that it locks in a better texture by lowering the freezing point, since liquor freezes at a temperature that home freezers don’t typically reach. “When you make ice cream that doesn’t have a custard base — that doesn’t have egg in it — it’s going to freeze much more solid than if it does have egg,” Doug explains. To prevent the ice cream from becoming a solid ice block, use just a small dash of alcohol, which will lower the freezing temperature and keep it smooth. As Doug says, it goes from being something you’d have to chisel to something you can scoop!

For those who are unsure about an adults-only scoop, rest assured that there’s only a small amount — half a teaspoon for the full quart of ice cream. (For those who want more punch, make your shake boozy or take a tip from my mom and spike the whipped cream!)

And liqueur isn’t the only helpful ingredient never skimp on the salt. “A little bit of salt should go into everything,” Doug says. “It amplifies the flavor”

Once his ice cream has churned into chocolatey bliss, Doug shows how to blend it into the best-ever chocolate peanut butter milkshake — using a frozen glass to keep it thick and cool — but ice cream this good is great scooped solo.

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