Today’s post is part of a series called Sugar High Fridays. Sugar High Friday is an “international sweet tooth blogging extravaganza” which was created by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess. It takes place on the last Friday of every month and always has a different theme. Since you all know that I have a huge sweet tooth, I thought this would be a fun way to get involved in the blogging community, and get some new recipes!
This month’s Sugar High Friday is hosted by Alex at Yums and Loves and the theme is no-bake treats. (Be sure to go to Alex’s page to see what other yummy no-bake treats people are posting for Sugar High Friday.) When I heard the theme was no-bake treats I immediately knew I wanted to make homemade ice cream because to me, ice cream is the perfect no-bake dessert. I love ice cream, but since I am not eating any processed sugar this summer, my ice cream options are very limited (essentially to homemade ice cream only). I have been researching ways to make ice cream using natural sweeteners, but so far had not tried any.
When I was younger, we used to make homemade ice cream a lot, especially at our lake house. My parents have one of those old fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers so it always took a long time to make the ice cream. It was so hard to wait for it to be done, but it was always well worth the wait. My parents had a motto, “no crank, no cream” so making ice cream was always a team effort. As much as I love commercial ice cream, there is nothing like eating the homemade kind!
I got my own ice cream maker for Christmas two years ago (one of the best presents ever). Let me tell you, it is waaaaay easier than the old-fashioned hand-crank version and the ice cream is just as tasty: win-win!
I have made many different kinds of ice cream at home, but I must admit that I was a little nervous about making ice cream with natural sweeteners. I frequently use honey as a substitute for white sugar, but I was hesitant to use honey in the ice cream because I know that honey has a very strong and distinct flavor. I love the flavor of honey, but I thought it might be a little overpowering in the ice cream.
Since I happen to have Ben & Jerry’s book on making homemade ice cream, I decided to turn to them for advice. To my delight they actually had a section on making ice cream using sweeteners other than sugar. They agreed that honey has a very strong flavor and also said it caused the ice cream to have a “crumbly” texture after the ice cream hardened. They said that maple syrup is a slightly better alternative, but because its water content is high, it will dilute the butterfat and “affect the final richness and texture of the finished product.” Hmmm. After reading this, I decided to go with agave nectar because it’s sweet, but not overpowering.
Next, I needed to decide on a flavor. I thought vanilla seemed too boring, but I was nervous to try chocolate because I wasn’t sure how it would taste with my natural sweetener. While trying to decide on a flavor, we got invited to a dinner party with a Greek theme. They asked me to bring dessert so I thought it would be a great place to debut my naturally sweet ice cream. I decided to go with lemon ice cream because it’s a nice light and refreshing summer flavor that I thought would pair well both with agave nectar and a Greek-themed dinner.
Homemade Lemon Ice Cream
INSERT PICTURE OF FINISHED PRODUCT
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
zest from 1-3 lemons (I used the zest from just one lemon)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp agave nectar*
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)**
Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a glass (or any other non-reactive) bowl. Add the lemon zest and agave nectar and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors come together.
Important: Once you’re ready to make the ice cream, you must move very quickly because if the lemon juice is left sitting in the milk too long it will curdle the milk!
Beat eggs in a mixer or by hand until light and frothy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the whipping cream, milk, and xanthan gum (if using) and mix on low speed until just combined (you don’t want to make whipped cream!). Add the lemon juice, zest, and agave mixture and mix until incorporated. Immediately pour into your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer’s directions.
*Agave is usually used in a 3:4 ratio to sugar. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar (12 tbsp) so I used 9 tbsp of agave. The ice cream was not very sweet at all, which we thought was perfect, but if you like your ice cream a little sweeter, I would suggest using the entire 3/4 cup of agave. Perhaps the butterfat in the cream—and maybe the citrus too—cut some of the sweetness.
**Xanthan gum is used to help thicken things. Since agave is liquid, I thought the ice cream might be a little runny so I used a little bit of xanthan gum. I think it would probably work out fine without the xanthan gum though so don’t worry if you don’t have any.
And after 20 minutes we had this!
At this point I sampled it (of course) and thought it was fabulous. I transferred it to other containers and put it in the freezer to harden.
While it was in the freezer, all I could think about were raspberries. I really wished I had some fresh raspberries to top our ice cream, but the commissary was all out. I racked my brain to figure out what I could use instead and after about 20 minutes I had the brilliant idea to make a raspberry coulis to put on top of the ice cream. Let me tell you, the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly tart lemon ice cream with the sweetness of the raspberry coulis was ah-maz-ing.
INSERT PICTURE OF ICE CREAM WITH RASPBERRY COULIS
1 cup raspberries (I used frozen raspberries that had been thawed)
1/4 cup agave
juice from 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Strain coulis through a fine mesh strainer to get all of the seeds out. Refrigerate until use.
Everyone at the dinner party thought that my lemon ice cream was a perfect summer dessert. It wasn’t super sweet or too tart. Even though I was a little nervous about how the ice cream would turn out with the agave nectar, it came out perfectly creamy and delicious. The raspberry coulis paired really well with the lemon ice cream making for a deliciously creamy and refreshing treat. I highly recommend you go out and try this right now :).
Question: What is your favorite no-bake treat?