By: Kayla & Justin Butts Photos by: Rachel Benavides
Have you ever stood in the ice cream section struggling to decide which of the dozens of flavors will be your next favorite? Sometimes none of the flavors seem just right. What if you could design your own ingenious ice cream flavor? Even better, what if you could invent a new ice cream every night?
Ice cream as we know it was invented in Italy hundreds of years ago. The Italians built huge underground ice cellars lined with stone. During winter, they filled these cellars with ice and snow hauled on wagons down from the mountains. They were able to make ice cream from their during the hot Italian summers.
Thomas Jefferson copied the design of ice caverns while traveling in Italy and built his own ice house at Monticello. The bottom of this brick-lined circular ice house was 16 feet below ground. During the winter, workers filled the ice house to the top with ice and snow. Jefferson astounded his guests by serving them ice cream in the heat of the Virginia summer. Fortunately, we don’t have to go to such trouble to enjoy homemade ice cream and fresh fruit popsicles in the Coastal Bend.
Once you have the ingredients and tools assembled, it only takes about 20 minutes to make your own homemade ice cream. You can find a perfectly adequate ice cream maker for about $20.
This simple vanilla ice cream recipe will get you started. It is simply milk, cream, sugar, and eggs, and vanilla extract or vanilla bean. From there, let your creativity guide you. Add strawberries, bananas, blueberries, mango, or any fresh fruit that you love. Throw in some nuts, dark chocolate, dried coconut, crystallized ginger, or even your favorite cookie chopped into pieces. You could try a different flavor combination every night of the week.
Homemade popsicles will transform your fruit into a frozen delight You only need a few popsicle molds. They are super cheap and you can find them at any grocery store. Use freshly squeezed lemonade or limeade (or concentrate if you prefer) for the popsicles. Pour the juice or fruit puree into the molds—and this is where the fun begins. Drop a thin slice of cucumber and a sprig of mint into a mold of lemonade for a wild, refreshing flavor combination. Or, drop in a slice of lemon and a sprig of rosemary or thyme. These popsicle are delicious, refreshing, and beautiful!
Experiment with different juices, fresh fruit, and herbs, for flavors to satisfy the most discriminating palate. If you’re having a patio party on a summer evening, be creative and let the tastes of your guests guide the combinations of flavors.
You can make your own homemade ice cream or popsicles faster than you can go to the store and buy them, and for a fraction of the cost.
These sweet treats are healthier with less than half the sugar, they are more delicious, and you can create exactly the flavors you most love!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Inactive prep time: about 30 minutes
2 pasteurized eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
2 tsp vanilla or 2 vanilla beans
With a handheld or standing mixer, beat eggs for two minutes, or until fluffy. Slowly add in sugar, a little at a time, while mixing on medium speed. Pour in remaining ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
Add ice cream batter to your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cook’s note: This recipe includes raw eggs. Adding sugar slows the growth of harmful salmonella but does not eliminate the risk. Children, the elderly, and persons who are immunosuppressed should not consume raw eggs. You may cook the ice cream mixture over low heat until it reaches about 160F to kill any salmonella bacteria.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours
3 cups freshly squeezed lemonade or limeade
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 sprigs rosemary (about 3″ long)
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
4 sprigs mint (about 3″ long)
Special equipment: Two popsicle molds (set of four)
Fill each individual popsicle mold half full with lemonade or limeade. Add one sprig of rosemary, mint, or other fresh herbs to the center of each mold. Place a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or other fresh fruit on either side of each herb. There should be two slices of fresh fruit for each mold. Top off each mold with remaining lemonade/lime made.
Freeze for about 4 hours, or until completely set. Place molds under warm running water for about 10 seconds to help release popsicles
Fresh Fruit Pops
Prep time: about 5 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours
2 cups fresh pineapple, peeled
1 can coconut milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
Strawberry Banana Pops:
4 bananas, peeled
2 cups strawberries, washed with tops removed
Plus 3 strawberries, sliced lengthwise
Blend fresh fruit (and coconut milk if using) in a blender on high until completely smooth.
Stir in shredded coconut for tropical pops or add sliced strawberry slices to strawberry banana pops.
Freeze for at least 4 hours. Place molds under warm running water for about 10 seconds to help release popsicles.