I think that most people would agree that homemade ice cream is way better tasting than most of the stuff you find in the grocery stores. It has a shorter ingredient list (aka no chemicals or preservatives) and a richer, creamier flavor.
Also, when you make your own ice cream you have the freedom to create any flavor that you want which is a lot of fun. I always always use the same recipe for the base of the ice cream when I'm playing around with different flavors for a number of reasons. It's an easy recipe to add ingredients to and it can be adjusted to suit your tastes.
This is a custard based recipe which means that milk, cream, and half of the sugar are heated until the sugar dissolves. Two eggs plus the other half of the sugar are whipped until they reach the ribbon stage either in a mixer or with a whisk. The hot milk is the slowly beat into the eggs to prevent them from curdling and then the custard goes back into the pot and simmered until it thickens.
There are a few reasons why I like making custard based ice creams instead of ones that you don't need to cook or add eggs to. The first is that eggs add a ton of flavor to the ice cream and a richer texture. The second is that the cooking process provides more opportunity to add different flavors to your ice cream.You can infuse the milk with flavors while you heat it up, melt candies in it, cook pieces of fruit in it etc.
Since half of the sugar goes into the milk and half gets whipped up with the eggs it also makes it easy to adjust the sweetness of your ice cream. If you add candies or fruit to the milk as it is heating up and decide after tasting it that it is sweet enough then you can cut down (or cut out) the sugar that you were going to add to the eggs.
When you make this recipe without any changes you get a creamy vanilla flavor with a texture similar to Haagen Dazs. If you want something extra decadent that is more suitable to be served in small portions then you can replace some of the whole milk with extra whipping cream. The recipe is flexible and holds up well to tweaking and changes.
For my buttered popcorn ice cream I started with the vanilla base but then I soaked buttered popcorn in the hot milk and cream mixture before beating it into the eggs.
To make liquorice ice cream I omitted the sugar from the milk mixture and melted liquorice toffee into the hot milk and cream before beating it into the eggs. You can do this with any candy or toffee that will dissolve in hot milk.
Once the custard has thickened then it goes in the fridge until it has cooled completely. I find that its best to leave it overnight because most ice cream makers work better when everything is as cold as possible. After churning the ice cream is usually the consistency of soft serve and you can either enjoy it like that or put it in the freezer to firm up so that it can be scooped.
I know that I'll be using this base to try some Christmassy flavors soon!
Vanilla Ice Cream (base recipe)
2.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream (aka whipping cream)
1 cup sugar
2tsp Vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1. Combine milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar , vanilla and the salt in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat until almost boiling and then remove from heat.
2. In a separate bowl whisk or use a mixer to beat the eggs and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage
3. While still whisking/beating pour the warm milk into the eggs and beat until combine. Pour the egg milk mixture back into the clean pot and heat over medium until the mixture thickens while stirring constantly. This takes a little over ten minutes
4. Chill custard in fridge with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. I like to chill mine over night. Then churn in an ice cream maker and either enjoy it as a soft serve ice cream right away or put it in your freezer to firm up and enjoy as scoops of ice cream.