Ice Cream Varieties and Other Frozen Desserts
There's no denying that frozen desserts are a popular and well-loved treat: Supermarket freezer sections have dedicated more and more valuable space to these concoctions over the years due to consumer demand. Everything from the standard vanilla ice cream to rainbow sherbets to Italian ice and freezer pops are purchased every day in mass quantities.
While these store-bought options are certainly convenient, they simply pale in comparison to the quality of home-produced alternatives that can be made from the freshest ingredients with no added chemicals. Not only will these homemade versions be healthier, they will also taste vastly better than store-bought ice cream.
Many ice cream recipes are easily tweaked, so feel free to use your creativity to make your own recipes. Try using whatever you have available, or experiment with new flavor combinations. For example, a basic vanilla recipe is wonderful on its own but welcomes mix-ins such as chocolate syrup, butterscotch, fresh fruits and jams, and chopped candy bars. For best results, add these ingredients toward the end of churning.
There is no one definition of or recipe for ice cream. However, ice cream typically contains cream (hence, ice cream). From there, there are basically two directions to take: French style, which is egg- or custard-based, and Philadelphia (or American) style ice cream. French style is often considered smoother, thanks to the yolks used to create the creamy custard base, though it is more complicated to make. Philadelphia style tends to be firmer in texture and lighter in taste, but is a lot easier and faster to produce. Both are wonderful in their own way.
You will be hard pressed to find two authorities who agree on a single, true definition of gelato. Some experts believe gelato should contain eggs, while others strongly disagree. What can be confirmed about gelato is the airiness. Gelato incorporates less air than ice cream, creating denser, more flavorful results. Standard ice cream machines can create gelato by simply turning off the machine when the ingredients are just frozen, incorporating less air than if it were left to continue the churning process.
Sorbets contain very few ingredients and are primarily composed of fruit and sugar or syrup. Typically, sorbets do not include any dairy, though this isn't a hard and fast rule. After granita, sorbets typically include the fewest ingredients, and are incredibly simple to produce. You will find that removing sorbet from the freezer 8–10 minutes before serving aids in scooping, as sorbets freeze harder than ice creams or gelato do, due to the fact that they contain no fatty ingredients.
Sherbets are similar to sorbets in that they contain few ingredients. The difference? Sherbets tend to contain milk or cream. Fresh, ripe fruits are the stars here, and it's as simple as puréeing all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and freezing in an ice cream machine. Like sorbet, it is a good idea to remove sherbet from the freezer a few minutes before serving for best results.
Frozen delights composed of—you guessed it—yogurt. Cream and/or milk are also common ingredients in this variety of dessert. Both Greek yogurt and standard yogurts are excellent bases and can be used interchangeably if desired. In a pinch, or as an added twist, sour cream can be substituted for part (or all, if desired) of the yogurt for either variety. This will of course result in a more sour end product, but is quite refreshing when paired with a variety of fruits, such as blueberries.
Granitas are frozen juices scraped into crystals. Granita is also commonly labeled as Italian Ice. Found in almost every country, these ices most closely resemble the original frozen desserts, when snow was mixed in with fruit juices as refreshing desserts and drinks. The wonderful thing about granita is that it is a snap to make, and requires nothing more than a fork and a freezer to obtain quality results.