Ice cream owes its luxurious texture and richness to its key ingredients — cream, sugar, and eggs. The fat of the cream provides a silky smoothness, as does the sugar, which slows down freezing. This in turn prevents large ice crystals from forming, ensuring a velvety consistency. Eggs have a similar effect on ice cream, both contributing fat and inhibiting ice formation. On top of that, they also facilitate the emulsification of the ingredients, ultimately resulting in a decadent dessert.
While increasing the fat content might seem like a logical step to enhance richness, this won't actually produce the outcome you might expect. Not only could this mess with the ratio of ingredients, too much fat will turn ice cream buttery, and can even leave behind an unpleasant fatty film in your mouth. A more effective option is to turn to cornstarch. Though you may not associate it with ice cream, the ingredient does wonders in improving the richness of ice cream without the drawbacks of excessive fat.
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What Happens When You Add Cornstarch To An Ice Cream Base
If you have cornstarch in your pantry, chances are it's reserved for thickening up soups and sauces or for battering something so it's crispy when it fries. In ice cream, however, cornstarch takes on a completely different role as a stabilizer. What this means is that it immobilizes the water so that it can't freeze as easily. This results in the formation of smaller ice crystals, a defining characteristic of rich ice creams. Eggs contain a natural stabilizer called lecithin, but with cornstarch, you can better control and adjust the amount as needed.
The addition of cornstarch to the ice cream base not only impacts crystallization but also reduces the formation of air bubbles. The smaller the air bubbles, the creamier the dessert gets. When it has air bubbles that are too large, not only is it less rich, but it also melts faster, creating a less enjoyable experience. Many store-bought ice creams rely on commercial stabilizers such as carrageenan, guar gum, and xanthan gum, but the cornstarch you probably already have works just as well.
How Much Cornstarch Should You Add To Ice Cream?
While cornstarch is effective at making your homemade ice cream richer, too much of it can make it gluey. A little goes a long way with these ingredients, so for best results start with roughly one teaspoon for every cup of liquid in your recipe.
Since eggs and cornstarch both act as stabilizers in ice cream, you can also fully substitute cornstarch and leave out the eggs entirely. To do this, one egg is equal to about a tablespoon of cornstarch and three tablespoons of water. Without eggs, keep in mind that your ice cream won't have the same custardy flavor, but that only means added flavors like vanilla will be more apparent.
Whether you choose to leave the egg in or replace it entirely with cornstarch, the best way to incorporate it into a creamy dessert is much like any other recipe. Simply dissolve it in a little bit of liquid to create a slurry, then add the mixture along with the other ingredients. Once churned and frozen, you'll be left with an ultra-rich ice cream.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.