At its simplest, everyone’s favorite dessert is a combination of
cream, sugar, and pureed fruit or flavoring that’s whipped into a
foam and frozen. According to FDA standards, real ice cream
must contain at least 10% milk fat by weight. Gourmet ice creams
are usually 14% to 18% milk fat and are produced with very low
(20% to 30%) overruns.
There are two major varieties of ice cream: French (or custard) ice
cream contains eggs, while Philadelphia ice cream (also called
American, New York, or plain) does not. French ice creams can be
somewhat richer and smoother than their Philadelphia
counterparts, although the rich custard base tends to mute the
intensity of flavors.
Did you ever wonder how ice cream, kept at 0º F in a freezer, is
still soft enough to be scooped? The answer is simple, yet
surprising: the sugar or sweeteners added to ice cream depress
the freezing point of water, so at least 25% of the water in ice
cream remains liquid at freezer temperatures. This helps explain
why temperature stability is so important when storing ice cream:
any increase in temperature, even if it’s far below 32º F, will cause
some small ice crystals to melt. If the temperature then drops, the
water will refreeze on existing crystals, making them larger. A few
large “heat shocks,” or many smaller temperature fluctuations,
will turn the finest ice cream into a gritty, icy mess.
According to the FDA, ice milk is simply “ice cream” which
contains less than 10% milk fat. On store shelves, you’ll find ice
milk labeled as reduced fat, light, or low-fat ice cream. With it’s
lower fat content, ice milk usually doesn’t have the smoothness of
ice cream, but it can feature a lightness and intensity of flavor
that’s difficult to duplicate.
Substitute yogurt for the cream in ice cream recipes, and you’ll
have a creamy alternative to traditional ice cream that is about
2% milk fat.
Known for its bright, intense flavors, gelato is a deliciously creamy
dessert that’s a favorite in Italy. Usually made from whole milk,
sugar, eggs, and flavoring, it’s produced with very low overruns
(20% to 30%), yielding a dense, somewhat soft dessert that is
only 5% to 6% milk fat. When you think of gelato, think of
gourmet ice cream on a diet.
Water ices are non-dairy blends of water, sugar, and flavorings.
Sorbet, granita, and slushes (frozen drinks) are water ices.