Q. Do you have any general guidelines or advice?
A. You bet. Check ’em out here.
Q. What kind of texture should I end up with after freezing? My ice cream is too soft! My ice cream is too hard! I want my ice cream to be just right!
A. After you’ve finished freezing the ice cream in your ice cream maker, it’s usually the texture of soft-serve ice cream. You probably won’t eat it all right away, so you can store the rest in the freezer. It will harden. A lot. It’s going to be harder than store-bought ice cream because it’s not whipped around and aerated the way commercially made ice cream is. If it’s too hard to scoop, just zap it in the microwave for ten seconds or so.
If your ice cream is too soft after freezing it in your ice cream maker, you may have fallen to a couple of common pitfalls. First, the colder the ice cream liquid is before freezing, the easier it is to freeze. I usually leave my liquid in the fridge for several hours to overnight. Second, if you have an ice cream maker that utilizes a freezing container that must be frozen first, make sure that it’s properly frozen. My ice cream maker has one of these, and I just leave it in the freezer at all times.
If you want to make the ice cream softer/creamier right of the freezer, you can do a couple of things. The first is to increase the fat content. The more fat the ice cream contains, the softer it will be in the freezer. You can use a non-dairy milk with a higher fat content (e.g., coconut milk), or you can add fat yourself. Adding ¼ cup flax oil is a great way to give your ice cream an omega-3 boost while making it creamier, too. You can use any other oil you like, but if you use flax oil be sure to whisk it in after the cooling period (prior to freezing) because heat can damage flax oil.
Adding alcohol to your ice cream will also prevent it from freezing as hard. If you’ve ever put a bottle of vodka in the freezer before making martinis, you’ve noticed that it doesn’t freeze. So mixing in ¼ cup to ½ cup booze after the cooling period (so it doesn’t boil off) will make the ice cream more difficult to freeze. If you choose this route, be sure to use a flavor that blends well with your ice cream. For example, brandy goes well with chocolate; tequila goes well with lime or lemon; rum is essential for rum raisin. Please note: This will not make you get drunk on your ice cream. You might notice the flavor of the alcohol, but you won’t get tipsy. Bummer, I know.
Q. What about using sweeteners other than sugar? Can I use agave nectar? Brown rice syrup? What about sugar-free ice cream?
A. I like using plain sugar in most recipes because it has a very neutral flavor that won’t influence the overall flavor of the ice cream. If I want a deeper molasses flavor, I’ll use Sucanat or brown sugar, or even molasses. (I even have a recipe for molasses ice cream!) If you have concerns about how “vegan” white sugar is, I would encourage you to first read this, and then if you’re still upset with me for using white sugar (or “evaporated cane juice,” as I do), rest assured that you can find sugar that hasn’t been processed using bone char.
I will probably eventually experiment with brown rice syrup, agave nectar, and maple syrup. In the mean time, if you experiment with any of these sweeteners, let me know how it goes! Your input is valuable!
As for “artificial” sweeteners (or their natural counterparts), I don’t care for these at all, and my husband won’t touch them. So I haven’t experimented with them. But I imagine you could use products like Splenda or stevia to make sugar-free ice cream. Again, if you try any of these, let me know how it goes so I can be better informed!
Q. What kind of ice cream maker should I use? What if I don’t have an ice cream maker?
A. Check out my post on this here.
Q. Can I use agar agar or cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder?
A. I haven’t used agar agar or cornstarch, but you could always try it. (And let me know how it turns out for you!) You could also try skipping the arrowroot completely, especially in recipes that produce a very thick liquid (like my avocado ice cream).
Q. Can I use xanthan gum instead of arrowroot powder?
A. Again, I haven't tried this, but here's what Myra Kornfeld says in The Voluptous Vegan (which has a few awesome ice cream recipes!): "[Unlike arrowroot powder, which must be heated] you need only to blend the xanthan gum with the ice cream base." So I imagine you could skip the heating step altogether, unless you want to make it easier for the sugar to dissolve, and just toss everything together in a blender or whisk it together by hand. If you do heat it to blend the sugar, then I guess you'd just blend/whisk the xanthan gum in at the end with the vanilla.
Q. What is this “soy creamer” you keep mentioning?
A. I am not talking about Coffeemate or those other “non-dairy creamer” powders. Yuck! What I’m referring to are products like Silk Creamer (there are other brands, too, but they are harder to find). It’s basically soy milk with added fat and sugar to mimic the properties of dairy cream or half-and-half. You can find this in the dairy section of the grocery store near the soy milk or the liquid Coffeemate-type creamers.
Keep in mind that you do not need to use soy creamer at all, even if I use it frequently. You can replace it with any non-dairy milk, and if you want that little extra fat, think about using coconut milk instead (or even whisking in ¼ cup oil).
Q. Can I use something other than soy milk?
A. Of course! I personally like soy milk, but you can use rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, cashew milk…you get the picture. Each milk with have its own properties (fat content, nutritional information, allergy issues), so choose what you like best and go with it!
Q. What does "c" mean? What about "t"?
A. I finally got around to explaining in this post. Sorry for the delay.
Q. You have won the International Lottery. Please to send assistance and your financial information so we can process your prize.
A. ZOMG really?!?!? w00t!