When we were kids, ice cream was ice cream. It was all good. It didn't matter if it came out of a giant plastic tub, a cardboard block or a paper cup with a tiny wooden spoon that tasted like a tongue depressor.
Sadly, as adults we know better. We realize that kids' ice cream is the dessert equivalent of cheez food, and we've convinced ourselves that good ice cream should cost as much as fine wine. Well, fear not, you young at heart and discriminating of palette! It's a cinch to make your own ice cream, even without a fancy machine or old-fashioned churn. The recipes here are not only cheaper than store-bought ice creams named after portly rock stars, they also taste better (than the ice cream, not the rock stars). After all, it's sugar and milk fat. How could it not taste good?
1. Bag-Toss Magic Ice Cream
This is a classic kid-science experiment, and you can make it anywhere you can tote a bagful of ice.
Thoroughly mix 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup whole milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla or other type of flavoring (you can also add bits of crumbled chocolate or other goodies to ramp up the flavor explosion). Pour the mixture into a medium-size zipper-type plastic bag. Seal the bag, releasing all excess air in the process (air disrupts the freezing process). If desired, you can double-bag the mixture.
Fill a freezer-size zipper-type bag with 2-1/2 pounds of ice and 1-1/2 pounds of salt. Place bag with the ice cream mixture inside the ice bag, and zip up the ice bag carefully. Throw the ice bag back and forth, up and down, behind your back…whatever it takes to keep it all mixing. In 15 minutes or so, you've got yourself a bag o' ice cream.
2. Land of Milk Fat and Honey
Thanks to the blog Mommyknows.com for this quick and easy recipe.
Combine 1-1/2 cups heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a freezer-safe bowl, and whip with a hand mixer to form stiff peaks. Warm ½ cup real honey on low heat until it's thin and runny. Add 1 cup cream to the honey and thoroughly blend with a whisk. If desired, you can also add bits of vanilla bean. Pour the honey mixture into the whipped cream and whisk to blend. Freeze the mixture in the bowl for about six hours.
3. Instant Blender Soft Serve
This fruity treat is ready as soon as it's done blending. You can also freeze it for awhile if you prefer hard serve.
In a blender or food processor, add 1 package of frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, peaches…whatever floats your boat), 2/3 cup heavy cream, ½ cup sugar and vanilla extract to taste (start with 1 teaspoon and go from there). Blend until smooth. Eat until full. Freeze the rest.
4. Low-Fat, Medium-Fuss
This concoction is so named because it uses milk instead of cream, and it requires a little tending to during the freezing process. (No heavy lifting, though.)
Combine 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a tightly sealing jar, such as a Ball jar. Shake to blend. Place jar in freezer for about 3-1/2 hours, shaking it again every 30 minutes until the mix is sufficiently ice cream-like.
5. Granita Buonissima
In other words, darned good granita. And yes, granita is not technically ice cream, since it has no dairy (it's a lot like sorbet). However, it's only fair that we have at least one icy dessert for the dairy-free folks.
Mix the liquid of your choice (almost anything works: fruit juice, coffee, champagne, liqueur…) with sugar until it's satisfyingly sweet. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13-inch metal or glass pan and place in the freezer. Stir the mixture with a whisk every 20 minutes, switching to a fork for mixing once the granita becomes slushy. Stir one last time before serving in chilled glasses.
The bad news is, the freezing process takes about four hours (extra sugar and alcohol add time, too). The good news is, this is a lot less time than it takes most people to get to Italy.
Philip Schmidt is a Hometalk - http://www.hometalk.com - writer. Read more articles like this one - http://www.networx.com/article/5-ways-to-make-ice-cream-without-an-ice - or get help with your home projects on Hometalk.com.