|Ice cream with fresh plums.|
My basic mix is pureed fresh fruit, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, non-fat plain yogurt and enough artificial sweetener to sweeten the mixture to taste, which for me, is not too sweet.
|Blend to break up icy chunks.|
I pour the ice cream mixture into individual cups (juice glasses, about 2/3-cup capacity), place them all on a tray and return them to the freezer. That way, I can remove one or two cups at a time, rather than softening the whole batch to dipping consistency. Individual cups are also an easy way to serve a crowd.
My original helado recipe was with nectarines (unpeeled—the flecks of skin don’t bother me), yogurt and liquid sweetener (cyclamate/saccharin). Since then I’ve been spinning off variations.
|Fresh fig ice cream.|
The plums were tart, so I needed quite a lot of sweetener. Other fruits, such as mango, need hardly any sweetening. (Mango also creates an especially creamy emulsion.)
|Stevia--a natural, no-cal sweetener.|
Instead of liquid sweetener, this time I used stevia leaves picked from plants that I have growing in pots (thanks, Charlotte!). Stevia, also called “sweet leaf,” is intensely sweet with a slight bitter-herb flavor. The plums were so tart that a small handful of leaves, pureed with the fruit, did not provide sufficient sweetness. So I added stevia extract, a white, no-calorie powder commercialized under various brand names, until it was sweetened to my taste.
In my next batch of ice cream (peaches coming up), I will try steeping stevia leaves in hot milk, to see if the sweetness intensifies.
Whether you use an artificial or natural sweetener, including sugar or honey, I suggest adding it to the mixture little by little, to taste.
For the dairy component, I use part no-fat yogurt, part full-fat Greek yogurt and part non-fat queso batido, a thick, creamy quark cheese somewhat like no-fat sour cream. For an especially rich and creamy ice cream, I use a small carton (about 1 cup) of mascaparone in place of the Greek yogurt.
The mixture of fruit, yogurt and quark adds up to about 6 cups, with the fruit puree making up between 1 and 2 cups of the total.
|Fresh mint complements plum ice cream.|
I also experiment with added flavorings. Mint goes well with plums and with prickly pears. Basil, rosemary or thyme pairs with nectarines and peaches. Ginger is a natural with mango. Figs want vanilla. Cardamom spices up apricots.
|Creamy and icy at the same time.|
This home-made ice cream needs to soften 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Then it’s creamy, but with a slight icy texture. Personally, I love it that way.
Some more ideas for home-made ice creams appear here.
|Leche merengada, ice milk with egg whites and cinnamon.|