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THEORY OF ICE CREAMS

Everyone loves this frozen dessert as a refreshing relief from hot Summers!
Shall we look into a little bit of theory today?
Broad definition –
It is a thick milky/creamy emulsion aerated and frozen into a semi solid form. It can be made with or without an ice cream churning machine.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to ice creams! Every country / every culture has it’s own version of making this frozen treat. Today I’m sharing with you what I think is the most popular versions of this dessert.

There are 4 primary elements of ice creams –

1) WATER
It is the liquid (water) content in the base which freezes to form ice crystals. These ice crystals is what makes this dessert an ‘Ice’ Cream.

2) FATS
Fat content in an ice cream determines how rich and creamy it is going to be. It can can any source – Milk / egg yolks / cream etc.
Smoothness also depends on how well the fat is emulsified with water.

3) SWEETNERS
Sugar not only adds flavour to the ice cream, but also determines how smooth it is going to be. Lesser the sugar, harder the ice cream and vice versa.

4) AIR
This is the invisible, most important element. Air determines how light or heavy (rich) the ice cream is going to be. Maybe achieved by churning the base in a machine or by whipping with a whisk.

COOKED ICE CREAMS
Bases which are cooked and cooled first before being frozen. They are more elaborate as compared to the no cook ice creams but are considered to have a better mouth feel.

1. FRENCH
Traditional french ice creams are made by churning a custard made with egg yolks, sugar, cream, milk and flavour.
These ice creams are higher in fat (more cream, less milk) than their Italian counterpart.

2. ITALIAN
Italian style ice creams or Gelato are ice creams made by churning custard made with egg yolks (or whole eggs), sugar, milk, flavour and cream in an ice cream maker.
They are lighter, milkier ice creams compared to third French counterparts due to the usage of more milk, less cream.

3. SICILIAN STYLE
These are vegetarian ice creams churned or still frozen by making a custard of milk, cream, sugar, flavour and corn starch (or other starches).
They are suitable for vegetarians and are fairly easier to make.

4. REDUCED MILK ICE CREAMS
This is a category which doesn’t have a set origin. It can be Greek or Indian or middle eastern nobody knows. It is made by reducing milk (or milk + cream) with sugar and flavour then set into moulds. There is no thickening agents (egg yolks / starch) involved in the making of this. The thickness comes from the slow reduction of milk.
Eg. Indian Kulfi.

Other cooked ice cream style desserts include –

5. PARFAIT
This has a texture of a light frozen mousse. It is made by tempering egg yolks (or whole eggs) with a hot sugar syrup and whipping it till it is light and airy. Then folding it with some whipped cream.

6. SEMIFREDDO
‘Semifreddo’ means semi frozen. This is a style of frozen dessert popular in southern Italy. It is very light compared to ice creams. It is made with egg yolks tempered with a hot sugar syrup (or directly beaten with sugar) and flavour and lightened up with meringue and whipped cream.

NO COOK ICE CREAMS

These are the ice creams put together without cooking the base. They can be made with or without an ice cream machine.

1. AMERICAN STYLE
Made with cream, milk, flavour and sugar. Churned in an ice cream maker.

2. FROZEN YOGURT
This is a relatively newer trend where yogurt is the main ingredient of the base. It may or may not be mixed with milk and/or cream then churned in an ice cream maker or lightened with meringue or whipped cream.

3. QUICK ICE CREAM
The most trending untraditional ice cream is this one. It is made with just two ingredients – whipping cream and condensed milk. Additional flavours are added on to it later.

4. VEGAN
This is another modern trend in ice creams. Some ‘purists’ will not even consider this category as ice cream due to the absence of dairy. It is made with nut/soy/oat/rice milks and fats from seeds and other plant sources. This may or may not be churned in an ice cream maker.

In addition to this, industial / commercial ice creams are made with milk, cream, sugar and chemical emulsifiers such as guar gum, GMS etc and stabilizers like CMC to prevent the early formation of ice crystals since they have to be kept for a longer time.

So go on and start making ice creams! Once you get into it… There’s no end to the craziness you can do with it!

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