There are fundamentally two types of ice cream base: the French style and the Philadelphia style. French style uses egg yolks to create a silky custard base. Philadelphia style does not use eggs and this makes it much simpler for the home ice cream maker, like me. The Philadelphia method was created by Eleanor Parkinson in 1818. She insisted that it must be only sugar, cream, and flavorings. Not being a purist, I use a blend of cream, milk, and sometime other dairy products.
(Side note here: To be called Ice Cream, it must be at least 10% milk fat. Heavy cream is typically 33% milk fat and whole milk is about 3.25%.
I am a big fan of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream based in Columbus, Ohio. I have her recipe book and have made many of the recipes. However, I have recently moved to the simpler Philadelphia style base for several reasons. The main one being simplicity. Jeni’s is a premium ice cream and no doubt uses the French method. The home recipes use corn starch as a thickener to simulate the texture. This requires boiling the mixture to activate the corn starch, then cooling in a ice bath or the freezer before churning. I am not fan of the texture that corn starch imparts to the finished ice cream. Also, I have found that some people can taste the corn starch.
Regardless of which base is used, Jeni’s book gives a lot of good advice on making ice cream and, more importantly, gives a range of scrumptious flavors and how to achieve them. Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries is my favorite!
In the recipes I present, you will see a variety of milk products used depending on the desired end result. Heavy cream and whole milk will be typical but evaporated milk, half and half, yoghurt, and others may show up. Each has its own flavor profile. As long as the appropriate level of milk fat is there, the choice of dairy product is up to you.