An infinitely adaptable recipe to make ice cream for one (or two if you are feeling generous) in a 1 pint jar. This mason jar ice cream base is simple and easy and the flavor options are limitless.
Like many of you, my daughter had been attending school via Zoom for the past couple of months. It was nice to be involved in this part of her life; to see her teachers interact with her and her interact with them. I got to do some fun projects and experiments with her and see how she applies what she has learned to our daily life. One of the things she did was make butter. Butter! Yes my 3yo made butter.
Before class her teacher had us prep some heavy cream and a small tight-lidded jar. The kids then spent 10 minutes singing and shaking the jar over and over, until they had butter. The way I understood this was in baker’s terms: the cream was whipped past the stiff peaks point until the fat separated from the liquid (butter, and buttermilk according to her teacher although idk about the latter because it was not like the buttermilk I buy and use). My thoughts immediately turned to desserts we could make with this method.
I made a brown butter pb no churn not long before her lesson and had been brainstorming other flavors since. Then I saw this and knew exactly why it worked and that I had to try it. Ten minutes after seeing the Delish recipe, I was shaking up some hc in a mason jar (careful not to make butter, lol). The next day I found that it wasn’t very creamy and when I began adding flavorings to other trial batches, it was harder to get them well-distributed by simply shaking.
The texture issue shouldn’t have been a surprise; essentially that recipe is ‘frozen whipped cream’ which isn’t really the same as ‘ice cream’ which is normally churned. It’s hard to replicate the churning at home without a machine, but whipping the cream helps. And, in my Brown Butter PB Ice Cream post I talked more about what makes the ice cream soft besides the churning; the fat. This post by David Lebovitz talks more about what makes ice cream soft (fats, sugar, alcohol, etc.).
Note: the Delish recipe is from June 2017 and theirs is the earliest I’ve found, although many other sites have published similar recipes since. Most recently, (shortly after I started writing this actually), the NYT published a recipe identical to Delish’s. So this mason jar ice cream idea isn’t novel, but my recipe lends you a creamier, custard-like result that is closer to real ice cream. Instead of shaking it in a jar, I opted for a bowl, a hand mixer and, get creative with the fats and sugars.
Essentially, I aimed for us to scoop out a spoonful and come up with the creamiest stuff ever; so I developed a specific formula to follow. My hope is that you will say, well I won’t be buying a tub of ice cream or going out to the local parlor now, I can make it myself. Whoop!
At the bottom of this page you’ll find a recipe for plain ol’ reliable vanilla ice cream. This is the base recipe for what you’ll work with when you choose your flavor journey. But before you get creative in your own kitchen, read through the ingredients/substitutions and steps so you are armed with the right knowledge to make your own, tailored to you, 1 pint dreams come true.
How to get soft, creamy ice cream:
Sugar: I use light brown but dark would be a fine substitute. I’m sure you could use granulated but it lacks the added moisture and the lovely caramel taste. Honey or maple syrup could work too but remember both are sweeter than sugar so use less.
Heavy Cream: or heavy whipping cream, either will do.
Sweetened condensed milk: Just like you’d use it in a no churn ice cream, this gives flavor and keeps the ice cream creamy.
Cream cheese: Makes our ice cream smooth and ‘scoopable’ and provides a nice tang to the sweetness. You can skip this, the ice cream will be slightly less tangy and less creamy.
Flavorings: The sky is the limit! The beauty of this is that you can taste as you go along. Like lemon zest or juice? Add it. Or orange. Add cinnamon if you like it. You could add any nut butter you like (cashew, peanut, almond, cookie butter!). One thing to keep in mind is that once frozen the flavors are a little muted so go a bit strong here.
Mix-ins: Again, sky is the limit. Think of things that when frozen, will still be pleasurable to eat. If you want to add chocolate, instead of throwing in a handful that will be too hard when frozen, I suggest melting ⅓ cup chopped chocolate with a ½ teaspoon coconut oil, and drizzling it in to the cream once whipped. You can add baked goods too like bits of cookie dough, chopped up cake or brownies or even crushed cookies!
Cashew butter: add 1/4 cup to the base. If you are using a nut butter, omitting the sweetened condensed milk or the cream cheese is an option (nuts have lots of good fats!)
Birthday Oreo: add 1 tsp imitation vanilla to the base and then add 3 TB sprinkles and crushed oreos once heavy cream is whipped.
Strawberry cheesecake: add ¼ cup roasted strawberries and juice of ½ lemon to cream cheese mixture. I had bits of lemon cake leftover which I chopped up and added as well.
To make the base chocolate rather than vanilla, make a chocolate paste:
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