One skinny ice cream base, four wonderful flavours. Half as many calories, but one hundred per cent taste.
Low calorie substitutes? No thanks.
I am not a big fan of substitutions: skinny lattes, diet coke, low fat yoghurt and zero calorie noodles are not among my favourites. I’m rightly suspicious of low-fat stuff as it has been demonstrated it’s actually bad for you, having much more salt and sugar added to compensate for blandness.
Decaffeinated coffee, skimmed milk and alcohol-free fizz are pretty pointless: the alertness, the calcium and the buzz gone. I don’t believe in swapping full fat cream, white sugar, wheat flour, and fresh butter for weird ersatz. I like tofu but for being tofu, not pretend sausage. Dairy free cheese? Give me a break.
What instead of substitutes then?
Caffeine gives you jitters? Quit drinking coffee. You watch your weight? Cake is off the menu. And if you really, really fancy some forbidden fruit, have a small piece of the genuine article instead of pretending you love the taste of the fake one. In moderation, not many things are really harmful for your health. It's the overdosing that's the culprit.
So... what's this recipe doing here?
Indeed, here we go: skinny ice cream. It's all because I’ve been on the calorie counting trip for the last few weeks. If I treat myself to dessert, something else has to give, obviously. And it scares me senseless how a scoop of double cream, full fat, or condensed milk based ice cream practically writes off my dinner allocation. Those things are seriously calorific!
Practice as you preach, you’ll say, and go without. And you'd be right if I was using some weird chemically-modified mixtures, based on soy beans or something similarly remote to ice cream. But I thought I’d give single cream a chance as it is proper cream. It's not a substitute, it's just not as rich as double cream.
It works. I’ll be true to my principles and admit it’s not as smooth, as creamy and as terrifyingly gorgeous as the 400-kcal-a-scoop ice. But it works along the lines of having my ice cream and eating it.
Skinny ice cream base, various flavours
I made several varieties flavoured with fruit powders, coffee or green tea powder (matcha) and lemon zest and juice. The fruit powder works well and you can buy it from specialist and online suppliers. You can also use freeze dried fruit instead and mash it to a powder.
The ice cream base is the one I use most often: cream, milk and sugar brought to just before boiling point (90C), then cooled and chilled. For the flavourings, I reserve a little cold milk to mix the powder into.
You should use the flavouring in the most dehydrated form possible so fruit puree won't work: too much water which will stop the ice cream from achieving smooth texture. There is too little fat in our base compared to ordinary ice cream base to beat pesky water crystals into smooth texture.
For the coffee flavour ice cream, stir instant coffee granules into the reserved milk. Green tea, ditto and likewise for fruit powder.
Lemon flavour is easy: thinly peeled zest can be added to the base to steep, then either strained before churning or left in the ice cream for interesting texture.
Feel free to experiment; it’s really easy and the result is half as many calories as regular ice cream – but a lot more than half as much taste.