Simple summer sweets

Wild blueberry gelato

Did you know that July was National Ice Cream Month? With temperatures expected to reach the 80s again this weekend, we thought we’d bring some tasty recipes for making your own ice cream. First and foremost, it’s always a good thing just to opt for the simplistic and pure nature of a plain vanilla, and then churn up a fresh and flavorful alternative. They are not only cool to eat, they’re cool to make too. Ice creams, sorbets, ice milk, frozen yogurt, and gelato can all be used in these easy recipes. If you can’t make it down to one of our Manistee County-based ice cream shops or parlors — we have a number of outstanding such businesses — don’t let summer pass by without trying a few of these easy and delicious frozen dessert recipes.

Candy bar ice cream

  • 2 quarts half-and-half cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 ounces each), chopped

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the cream and milk to 175 degrees; stir in sugar and salt until dissolved. Whisk a small amount of hot mixture into eggs.

Return all to the pan, whisking constantly. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches at least 160 degrees and coats the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from the heat. Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for two minutes. Stir in vanilla. Press plastic wrap onto surface of custard. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Stir in candy bars. Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Refrigerate remaining mixture until ready to freeze. Allow to ripen in ice cream freezer or firm up in the refrigerator freezer for two to four hours before serving.

Honey-lavendar ricotta ice cream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms
  • 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 45 seconds or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in lavender. Let stand 30 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Cover and chill one hour.

Honey-lavendar ricotta ice cream

Combine fresh ricotta cheese, honey, and salt in a food processor; process until smooth. With processor on, slowly add lavender syrup through the food chute. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze four hours or until firm.

Cuban coffee ice cream with Dulce de Leche

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark-roasted coffee beans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • About 1 cup dulce de leche (recipe follows; see notes) or purchased caramel sauce

In a bowl, beat egg yolks to blend.

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over medium-high heat, combine milk, cream, sugar, and coffee beans; stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is simmering. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl; discard coffee beans. Rinse pan, return milk mixture to it, and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Cuban coffee ice cream with Dulce de Leche

Whisk 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into egg yolks; pour yolk mixture into pan. Stir constantly over low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes; do not boil.

Pour into a clean bowl and chill, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 2 hours; if desired, cover and chill up to 1 day.

Stir rum and vanilla into custard. Freeze mixture in a 1-quart or larger ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve, or transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours, or up to 1 week. Scoop into bowls and top with dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche. In a heavy 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir 4 cups whole milk and 1 1/4 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally with a flexible spatula, until mixture is golden brown and reduced to about 2 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl; discard residue. Makes 2 cups.

Black walnut ice cream

  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon black walnut extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped black walnuts

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, light cream, half-and-half and black walnut extract. Pour into the container of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is done, fold in walnuts, and transfer to a freezer container. Freeze until solid.

Wild blueberry gelato

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup blueberry jam
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups 2 percent reduced-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook for 10 minutes. Place mixture in a blender; process until smooth.

Beat the sugar and the egg yolks in a large bowl with a whisk until thick and pale (about five minutes). Heat the milk over medium-high heat in a small, heavy saucepan to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil). Add one-third hot milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add to remaining hot milk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats back of a spoon (about four minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in blueberry mixture, and cool completely. Stir in juice.

Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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