Sugar Rush

DIY Ice Cream with Pastry Chef Rachel Miller

As the monsoon storms roll in to smother the dry heat, Phoenix inhabitants have begun to hibernate in the chill of their air-conditioned homes. Transporting frosty treats is near impossible, as they melt into puddles before we can puzzle-piece them into our already packed freezers.

I'm a custard freak. During custards class in culinary school, I gained five pounds from those eggy-sugary chilled concoctions. While working my first kitchen job, I always volunteered to be the one to spin the ice cream, just so I could taste-test each flavor that the ice cream machines churned out.

In lieu of venturing outside, it's time to get creative with the ingredients we already have, and break out the ice cream maker that has been gathering dust in the pantry. Follow our ice cream tips, and get ready to enjoy a cold treat, from the comfort of your air-conditioned home.

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Ice cream base is very simple to make; all it takes is a little patience and vigilance at the stove. I use a simple $60 ice cream machine from Cuisinart that requires you to freeze the bowl before use. It is nothing fancy, and after five years of using it, it runs like a champ, making perfect ice cream every time. I have even used it to test small batches of ice cream recipes in restaurants.

- Always make sure your ice cream maker bowl is completely frozen. I have attempted to spin ice cream in a bowl that is slushy-sounding inside, and the results are soupy. If you know you want to make ice cream flavors back-to-back, I suggest investing in a second bowl.

- Standing at the hot stove stirring a custard in this weather is not ideal, but I promise the rewards are worth it. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up on the custard to get it to thicken faster. You will end up with a broken custard if you get overly harsh with your heat.

- Thus leading to this tip: for a broken custard, immediately take an immersion blender to your custard and it should pull the custard back together. Your ice cream may taste a little egg-ier, but it will still be delicious.

- Chill your bases completely before putting them in your ice cream maker and spinning.

- When using booze in an ice cream, be cautious about how much you add. As you know from storing vodka in the freezer, alcohol doesn't freeze. Find that balance of how much you can add where your ice cream will still freeze.

- Since it is currently very hot, I like to pop my spun ice cream into the freezer for a couple of hours, to let it firm up a bit more before serving. Definitely do this if you are intending to douse your ice cream with hot fudge or hot caramel sauce.

- Please adapt these recipes and make flavors or combinations that you love. Part of experimenting in your own kitchen is the fun of getting to play mad chef!

- Read the ice cream recipe from start to finish, and prep all your tools ahead of time. It will make the whole process a lot easier.

Basic Ice Cream Recipe:

Ingredients: 1 cup Heavy Cream 1 cup Whole Milk 1 cup Evaporated Milk ½ cup Granulated Sugar 6 each Egg Yolks, Large (Add in - Vanilla extract, Vanilla paste, Zest of Orange, etc)

Procedures: -Place heavy cream, whole milk and evaporated milk into a saucepot. I add in my zest, vanilla paste, etc., here, to steep it well in the dairy and get a very strong flavor. Place over medium-low heat.

-Place egg yolks in a bowl. When your dairy heats up and small bubbles appear around the edge of the pot, whisk together the yolks and sugar. Then, temper the hot dairy mixture into the yolk-sugar mixture, continuously whisking. Tempering is when you are allowing the egg yolks to get used to the heat gradually, as opposed to just whisking them directly into the pot, where they would most likely break, leaving you with scrambled ice cream. Once you have tempered half of the hot dairy into the yolk-sugar mixture, it is safe to pour everything back into the pot and begin to continuously stir with a rubber spatula.

-This is where your patience comes in. Stir the pot constantly, to keep the mixture from curdling. If the heat seems to be too high, ie, boiling, turn it down. Every stove has different heat, adjust accordingly. Eventually, you will see the mixture start to thicken.

-When your mixture is "a la nappe," which means that you pull the rubber spatula out of the custard and draw a line with your finger on the paddle of the spatula. If the line stays, and the custard on the top does not dribble down over your drawn line, the custard is done. Remove from the heat.

-Strain your custard into a bowl, through a fine mesh strainer. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and chill until completely cold.

-Spin according to manufacturers instructions.

Lemon Frozen Yogurt:

Ingredients: 1 ½ cups Yogurt of your choosing (I use Straus Low Fat, as that's what I always have on hand.) 1 cup Lemon Curd (Store bought or homemade, whatever you have.)

Procedures: -Stir together. -Chill till completely cold. -Spin according to manufacturers instructions.

Scarpetta Vino Spumante Brut Rose Sorbet: Scarpetta is a delicious sparkling wine that I adore. You can easily substitute your favorite champagne, prosecco or sparkling wine here. This sorbet doesn't get super hard, even when left in the freezer, which is what I love. It's a perfect fluffy sorbet.

Ingredients: 1 cup Granulated Sugar 1 cup Water 1 cup Scarpetta A splash of lemon juice

Procedures: -Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepot. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, to create a simple syrup. Chill the simple syrup until completely cold. -Open a bottle of Scarpetta, or your favorite sparkling wine. Add 1 cup of sparkling wine and a splash of lemon juice to the simple syrup; stir together. -Spin according to manufactures instructions. -After it sits in the freezer, this sorbet may need to be fluffed again with a fork.

Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at, or on her blog at

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Rachel Miller
Contact: Rachel Miller