It’s easy to get lost online, searching for recipes to try out in my brand new ice cream maker. Did you know there are whole blogs devoted to nothing but ice cream recipes? Just surfing their pages is enough to make my mouth water. How do I choose between Roasted Strawberry and Cherry Vanilla? White Miso Peach or Peanut Butter Cup? Fortunately, I’ve got Pinterest ready to keep track of the most delectable choices to try in the future.
But here’s something I’ve learned recently – my ice cream maker is capable of making many more delicious frozen treats beyond ice cream. Frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbets I’m familiar with, but what are these more exotic concoctions, like gelato and semifreddo? And what exactly is a frozen custard?
What do all these different terms mean, I wonder? And more importantly, how do they differ from my favorite, creamy treat?
So I’ve done some research and put together a brief rundown of all the differences. Now you, too, can know all the fabulous, tasty treats you can make at home with your ice cream maker.
Treats you can make in an ice cream maker
Ice cream – Made primarily cream and sugar, usually with milk added to the mix. Flavorings can be anything, from vanilla bean to chocolate to … asparagus? Usually has a milkfat content of greater than 10% (premium ice creams can have up to 16% milkfat!). Ice cream made with eggs in the base is sometimes called “French ice cream” and this variety must be cooked to pasteurize the eggs before being churned in your ice cream freezer. Churning ice cream adds air to the mixture – up to 60% of the volume of ice cream is air!
Sorbet – Has no milk, cream or other dairy products. Instead, sorbets use a fruit puree or sweetened water as a base, and are frequently flavored with spices or herbs. When whipped, it achieves a light, airy texture.
Sherbet – Like sorbet, uses fruit as its primary ingredient, but a small amount of milk is added to make it creamy. It must have less than 2% milk fat to be considered a sherbet. (Outside the U.S., sorbet and sherbet can be used interchangeably for a dairy-free frozen treat).
Granita – Like sorbet, this uses no dairy. Unlike sorbet, granita isn’t whipped and ice crystals are allowed to form. It’s more granular and crunchier than sorbet. This one doesn’t use your ice cream maker, but is stirred by hand.
Frozen yogurt – Contains cultured dairy products (yogurt), which usually makes it tarter than ice cream, not to mention lower in fat. It’s usually churned to resemble soft serve ice cream.
Frozen custard – Like ice cream, made with cream and sugar, but must have at least 10% milkfat and 1.4% egg yolks. It has less air than ice cream (up to 30%, compared to 60% for ice cream) which results in a richer, creamier, smoother product.
Ice milk – Like ice cream, but made with milk instead of cream, so it’s lower in fat.
Gelato – Like ice cream, with a mixture of milk, cream and sugars, and usually including eggs. It’s churned more slowly than ice cream, so less air is stirred into the product, resulting in a product that is denser than ice cream. Ice cream is usually 60% air, while gelato is more like 20%. It typically has a lower milkfat content then ice cream, too, which makes the added flavors more intense.
Semifreddo – A mix of ice cream (or gelato) and whipped cream in equal parts, usually used to make semi-frozen desserts like ice-cream cakes.
You can also churn pudding in your ice cream maker to create a Fudgsicle like desert. And how about frozen daiquiris or pina coladas? A must have for your next hot party!
So there you have it, all the different frozen treats your ice cream maker can help you churn out. (Pun intended!) Which one sounds like your next great ice cream maker adventure?