Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Basic Ice Cream Recipe Examples

Standard Base

All my other recipes derive from this. It’s version #29—a fair amount of experimenting precedes it. It makes ice cream that's moderately rich (15% milk fat, but with only 2 yolks per liter). It’s smooth, has good body and a creamy melt, great flavor release, no discernible egg flavor, and a cleaner finish than bases that use a lot of custard. No flavoring ingredients are included here.

(Makes about 1 Liter)

360g whole milk (3.3% fat)
360g  heavy cream (36% fat) 
55g nonfat dry milk
2 large egg yolks (36g)

70g granulated sugar 
25g dextrose
15g invert syrup

0.8g locust bean gum 
0.4g guar gum
0.2g lambda carrageenan

0.7g salt

Here’s the composition:
total mass: 908g
total milk fat: 141g / 15% 
total fat: 150g / 16.5%
nonfat milk solids: 113g / 12%
total nonfat solids: 236g / 25%
total solids (fat + nonfat): 386g / 42%
egg fats: 9g / 1%
egg lecithin: 2.9g / 0.3%
total egg solids: 18g / 2%
sugars (non-lactose): 110g / 12%
stabilizers (non-egg): 1.4g / 0.15%

And a close look at the sugar blend:
Sucrose 60%
Dextrose 26%
Invert Syrup 13%


It has the typical complications that separate pastry chef recipes from home recipes: added milk powder, a blend of different sugars, gum stabilizers. 

In addition

-it uses fewer eggs than most: just 2 yolks per liter. This is between a half and a quarter of what’s typical (I don’t like to taste eggs in my ice cream, and I don’t like their effect on flavor release—but I like what a couple of yolks can do for texture and stability, with help from other ingredients).

-The sugar blend is light on table sugar, but makes up for this with dextrose and invert syrup. So it’s low on sweetness, but without sacrificing freezing point suppression.

-It uses a custom blend of gums. Most home cooks and pastry chefs who use non-egg stabilizers either use starches or a commercial product. There’s very little information available on constructing stabilizer blends outside the context of industry. In later posts I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about varying individual gums in order to fine-tune texture.


French Variation

For those who disagree with me on eggs. You want custard, dammit.

360g whole milk (3.3% fat)
360g  heavy cream (36% fat) 
15g nonfat dry milk
6 large egg yolks (108g)

75g granulated sugar 
35g dextrose
15g invert syrup

0.6g locust bean gum
0.3g guar gum
0.15g lambda carrageenan

0.7g salt

Here’s the composition:
total mass: 970g
total milk fat: 141g / 15% 
total fat: 166g / 17%
nonfat milk solids: 68g / 7%
total nonfat solids: 243g / 25%
total solids (fat + nonfat): 409g / 42%
egg fats: 25g / 2.5%
egg lecithin: 8.7g / 0.9%
total egg solids: 59g / 6%
sugars (non-lactose): 125g / 13%
stabilizers (non-egg): 1.05g / 0.1%


The biggest change we made here adding four egg yolks, tripling the original number. We could have left it at that, but we’d be introducing some problems:

-The solids levels would be very high, giving us what many would consider too much body. The ice cream would likely be chewy.

-Because the whole recipe is now bigger, the sugar percentages would be lower. The result would be less sweet than before, and harder. The eggs themselves will contribute some hardness, because egg fats freeze harder than milk fat.

-Since egg custard is itself a stabilizer, we would have more stabilizing ingredients than necessary. The melted texture might be too viscous, or even pasty.

So we made the most straightforard changes possible: reduced the nonfat dry milk, reduced the stabilizers, and slightly increased the sugars. With the sugars, we increased the sucrose, for maximum effect on sweetness, and the dextrose, for maximum effect on freezing point.

The result is composition numbers that are quite close to the first version, with the exception of total fats and total nonfat solids. The latter number is up to 42% from 40%—still within the ideal range of values, and a reasonable increase, since the whole point of all that custard is to make a thicker, richer product.

Light Variation

Here’s one if you’re looking for a cleaner, lighter ice cream, with the most vibrant flavors possible. There’s less milk fat and no egg. This version is ideal as part of a complex plated dessert, for incorporating delicate flavorings, or for after a heavy meal.

480g whole milk (3.3% fat)
240g  heavy cream (36% fat) 
55g nonfat dry milk

70g granulated sugar 
30g dextrose
15g invert syrup

4.5g lecithin
1.2g locust bean gum 
0.6g guar gum
0.3g lambda carrageenan

0.7g salt

Here’s the composition:
total mass: 886g
total milk fat: 102g / 12% 
total fat: 102g / 12%
nonfat milk solids: 111g / 12%
total nonfat solids: 228g / 26%
total solids (fat + nonfat): 330g / 37%
sugars (non-lactose): 115g / 13%
stabilizers (non-egg): 2.1g / 0.2%


The biggest changes this time are the reduced cream-to-milk ratio and the elimination of eggs. If we did nothing to compensate, we’d encounter a few problems:

-Because of the lower milk fat levels, the ice cream would lack creaminess.

-Because of the reduced total solids, there would be proportionally more water, leading to iciness.

-Because of the reduced total solids (especially milk solids) and because of the lack of all custard, the ice cream would lack body.

-Because there’s no egg lecithin, there are no added emulsifiers to disrupt the millkfat emulsion. So we’ll probably have a hard time whipping air into the ice cream. The resulting fat structure will also likely be grainy and unstable

To compensate, we added 10g of milk dry milk powder, 4.5g lecithin (about equal to what’s in 3 yolks), and increased the stabilizers 50%. 

10g additional milk powder isn’t much. We likely don’t need more, because we actually increased the milk solids by using a higher proportion of milk to cream. Remember that cream is 5.6% nonfat solids, while milk is 8.8%. So this recipe actually has a slightly higher lever of nonfat milk solids. We increased the dry milk to increase the total solids—which after the added milk powder are 36% (the low end of normal). It’s possible that you’d find this ice cream lacking in body; you could compensate by increasing the dry milk even more, or by increasing the stabilizer blend up to 0.3%. 

A corner of the ice cream pantry

Closing Remarks

If you’ve worked your way through these examples, you’ll have a pretty good sense of the ice cream designing process. It’s all equations: to change a little on this side of the equals sign, you gotta change a little on that side. 

These examples were about changing the style of the ice cream. In future posts we’ll look at balancing the equations when we add difficult flavor ingredients, like fruits—which mess with the balance of water, solids, and sugars. 

In the next post, we’ll look at techniques. Because once you measure out all these ingredients, you have to do something with them …

A note on ingredients: I’ve been buying my milk and cream from a farm coop called Natural by Nature (awful name, good milk). It’s relatively low-temperature pasteurized, which allows us to cook the milk proteins to just the right degree. More on this in a later post. The cream is also free of gums, so you don’t have to worry about it messing with the stabilizer recipe. In post parts of the country, you can get something similar. Definitely look for milk that's been pasteurized below 75°C, and cream that has no added gums. Ideally buy from small, cow-friendly farms.

I use Now Organic dry milk powder. It’s 100% nonfat milk solids, spray-dried at low temperature. Significant for the same reasons as the low-temperature pasteurization of the fresh milk. This stuff tastes and smells like fresh milk. Horizon Organic is also good. 

My prefered locust bean gum is TIC Gums POR/A. This version hydrates at 74°C, which is below the temperature I use for cooking the mix. Many varieties of LBG need a much higher temperature. The variety sold by Willpowder dissolves at an even lower temperature than the TIC product, according to the vendor.

Part 1 of this series: Introduction
Part 2 of this series: Components
Part 3 of this series: How to Build a Recipe
Part 4 of this series: Basic Recipe Examples
Part 5 of this series: Techniques
Part 6 of this series: Sugars
Part 7 of this series: Stabilizers
Part 8 of this series: Emulsifiers
Part 9 of this series: Booze
Part 10 of this series: Solids, Water, Ice


  1. What can be used as a substituted for locust bean gum? TNX

    1. Hi Yossi,

      the closest substitute for LBG is guar gum. It's not quite as efficient at slowing ice crystals, and tends to make the ice cream chewier, but it's pretty close.

  2. What do you recommend using for lecithin? Liquid lecithin? Soy lecithin powder? I've found that soy lecithin can form clumps after it's aged.

    1. I use plain old soy lecithin powder from Willpowder. It comes in a 1lb jar, which will take me close to forever to use, and so far no clumping. But I imagine this would be influenced by your local humidity.

      I haven't used liquid lecithin. If you try it, make sure it's pure lecithin (not a nutritional supplement formulated with other stuff). Let us know how it goes.