Start thinking summer with desserts that refresh

By MetroCreative

Ice cream is a go-to dessert in warm weather. Creamy, cold and refreshing, ice cream makes for the perfect complement to a hot afternoon.

Ice cream can be served in various ways, including in a cup, on a cone, in sundae form accompanied by a bevy of favorite toppings, or mounded on a hot waffle. This cool treat is also stupendous in shakes or as the a la mode when served alongside pies and cakes. There’s just no end to the ways ice cream can be enjoyed.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to head to the nearest supermarket freezer section for a pint or two of the cold stuff, many people overestimate how much work goes into making ice cream at home. Anyone can whip up their own custom flavors and keep the freezer stocked with fresh desserts. Start with base ingredients for basic vanilla ice cream, courtesy of The Food Network, and then customize with creativity.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Yields 1 quart

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Kosher salt

5 large egg yolks

Whisk the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

Slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the beaten yolks, then pour back into the saucepan, whisking, and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, coats the spoon and reaches 180 F on a thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup; discard the solids. Stir often until the mixture cools to room temperature.

Lightly press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cold, about 3 hours.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the ice cream in the freezer to set up for at least 1 hour.

Now comes the fun part: choosing flavors. Here are some flavor combinations to try.

1. Add in crumbled bits of pretzels and peanut butter for a sweet and salty favorite.

2. Stir in bits of oatmeal cookie and cooked-down apple bits for an apple pie-inspired flavor.

3. Transform vanilla into peach ice cream with the addition of canned peaches.

4. Hazelnut flavors are all the rage, so be sure to mix in creamy Nutella and some chocolate cookie chunks for a cookies and cream variety that wins.

5. Evoke the taste of cheesecake with the addition of a little cream cheese, graham cracker pieces and blueberry compote.

6. Add freshly brewed coffee to your ice cream base and some caramel sauce for a dessert that’s straight off a coffee shop menu.

Anyone will scream for homemade ice cream with customized fresh flavors.

By MetroCreative