We like ice cream. However, here in the desert SW in New Mexico, non-dairy ice cream is a ways off in the future. So we realized that if we couldn’t buy vegan ice cream, we would have to make it ourselves.
After a bit of research, and a few award winning flops, we came up with a recipe to get the basics down about egg replacement and using soy milk. After a few more trial and error batches, we arrived at a good reliable ice cream base. Three pieces of kitchen hardware (h/w) that made a big difference and contributed to our eventual success are: a Stainless Steel 6 Qt. sauce pan with an extra thick and heavy aluminum bottom; a hand-held immersion blender; and a good ice cream machine.
This last piece of h/w is the modern equivalent of the old hand-cranked ice cream “churning” machine: a cedar wooden bucket with a tinned metal drum in the middle that I remember from my childhood. Inside the drum was a two bladed scraper/mixing blade assembly. On top of the drum was a gear head that resembled the rear axle & differential from a model-A Ford. Turning the hand-crank caused the drum to rotate in one direction and the blade assembly to rotate in the opposite, thus mixing and churning up the ice cream mix poured into the drum. For cooling, a slurry of ice chips and “rock salt” was poured into the cedar bucket. The rock salt added to the ice causes a depression of the freezing point thus drawing heat and lowering the temperature from the surrounding area including the ice cream mixture in the inner drum.
Our more modern ice cream machine has a sealed double walled metal jacketed container that will hold about 4 to 6 cups of ice cream mixture. The sealed double walled part of the container encloses a mixture of organic compounds with a freezing point lower than water. By freezing the double walled container overnight, the container will draw heat from the ice cream mix, freezing it solid. But wait, you want ice cream without “ice crystals”, so that is the job of the blade assembly in the middle of the container. (Big fancy machines use a built-in compressor so they are ready to freeze your ice cream at the flip of a switch. The only drawback is that the switch might cost ~$300.)
The most serious error you can make (I am speaking from experience here) is to pour the ice cream base into the frozen container before it is rotating at full speed and has the blade assembly installed. Once that chilled ice cream base hits the frozen wall of the bladeless stationary container you can kiss that batch goodbye.
So we replace the egg custard with a soy milk and cornstarch concoction, carefully simmered until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Note: I am using sucralose based Splenda to sweeten the ice cream (See my previous post on artificial sweeteners.) Aspartame could be used except for the thermal breakdown problem, and this ice cream base recipe requires plenty of simmering and whisking time. You could also try using a Stevia mixture. We tried it once and threw the batch away because of the bitter taste and bitter after-taste. If you are diabetic, be careful to avoid artificial sweeteners with sucrose, dextrose, or fructose added as filler, and also watch out for the sugar alcohols, like maltitol, sorbitol, and lactitol.
4 cups (divided) cold soy milk (not the light version)
1 ¾ cups Granulated Splenda or 42 packets of powdered Splenda. Note: 6 packets of powdered Splenda equal ¼ cup granulated Splenda, 24 packets of powdered Splenda equal 1 cup granulated Splenda.
½ tsp salt.
3 ½ TBs cornstarch
2 tsp pure bourbon vanilla extract (Don’t skimp—expensive bourbon vanilla REALLY tastes better!!).
 Approximately 24 hours before you plan to make the ice cream, place the clean and dry double walled container (opening facing upwards) into your freezing compartment, ensuring that it is level! If it is tilted and the refrigerant freezes, it may not rotate smoothly in the machine.
 When you’re ready to make the ice cream, pour ½ cup soy milk into a 2 cup measuring cup (use a glass one so the sides are tall for mixing).
 While whisking the ½ cup soy milk, add the cornstarch to it.
 Pour in the bourbon vanilla extract and whisk to mix thoroughly. Set aside.
 Pour remaining soy milk into the 6 Qt sauce pan.
 Add the Splenda.
 Add the salt.
 Apply medium heat, and constantly whisk until all the Splenda and salt are thoroughly dissolved into the soy milk. Keep on whisking (okay, when I make it, I keep whisking, when my wife makes it, she switches to a wooden spoon) until the mixture is completely simmering. I define completely simmering as small bubbles covering most of the surface. Take care to avoid scorching the mixture. If the whisk sticks, you may have some scorching. If so, lower the heat, and keep on whisking. Make sure the mixture is completely simmering. This step may take a few minutes, so make sure you won’t be interrupted.
 When the simmering is complete, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture, and whisk vigorously until the all the cornstarch mixture is incorporated.
 The ice cream base should begin to thicken by now. Take a clean wooden spoon and dip it into the mixture. If it “coats” the back of the wooden spoon, you are almost done. I like to let the coated wooden spoon air dry for a new seconds, and then dip it in a second time. This should produce an area with one coating thickness and an area with two layers of coating.
 Remove the sauce pan from the heat, and using a hot pad, pour the hot ice cream base into a large bowl suitable for refrigeration. Transfer the ice cream base to the coldest flat region in your refrigerator, and thoroughly chill the base for at least 4 hours.
 When you are ready for the “churning”, remove the bowl with the ice cream base from the refrigerator. If the ice cream base has formed a “skin” on top, use the hand-held immersion blender to “grind up” the skin and thoroughly mix it into the base.
 This paragraph refers to our own ice cream maker. Modify as needed for yours. Remove the clear plastic top and the inside blade assembly from the motor assembly of the ice cream maker. Place the frozen double wall container on top of the motor assembly. Make sure that the container rotates smoothly under power and is in balance. Then replace the blade assembly and the clear plastic top. Re-check that everything rotates smoothly under power and leave the motor turned on.
 Now pour the chilled ice cream base into the double walled container.
 The ice cream base will flow over the blade assembly, which helps break up ice crystals, making a smoother creamy ice cream.
 If you want to add anything to the ice cream, pour it into the rotating container now. We usually add ½ cup dark chocolate chips.
 As the freezing rate depends on many variables I can only make an estimate of the time to freeze. Our machine usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. When the flow over the blade assembly begins to slow and finally halt, turn off the motor.
 Remove the clear plastic top. Pull the blade assembly partially out of the double wall container, and using a rubber spatula, scrape the ice cream down off of the blade assembly into the freezing container. Set the cleaned blade assembly to one side. Using the rubber spatula remove the ice cream into a smaller containers suitable for freezing and/or serving. The ice cream should be equally divided among these containers. The containers are placed back in the freezer until you are ready to serve.
Minor revision 09-04-2014
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