The term low-fat ice cream is somewhat of an oxymoron. After all, it's in large part the butterfat in cream and whole milk that imparts the luxurious texture and taste.
Apart from the real deal — made using a custard of cream, egg yolks and lots of sugar — there are plenty of scoopable frozen treats that have a more virtuous nutritional profile along with a pleasing texture, but they're often made with thickeners and stabilizers whose names defy pronunciation.
The arrival of small ice cream makers that fit in your freezer means making a healthier frozen dessert has gotten a lot easier.
This brown sugar and toasted almond ice cream contains no cream, but is plenty creamy. Unflavored gelatin provides stability, and nonfat evaporated milk gives the intense dairy taste.
This simple custard can be used as a base for almost any flavor. Here, we've sweetened it with brown sugar plus a dash of amaretto. But you can use regular sugar along with a puree of your favorite fruit, or even a chocolate malt powder.
BROWN SUGAR AND TOASTED ALMOND ICE CREAM
Start to finish: 2 hours 45 minutes (15 minutes active)
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large egg yolks
12-ounce can nonfat evaporated milk
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur or rum
1/2 cup chopped almonds
In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon of water. Let stand while you make the base for the ice cream.
In a large saucepan, stir together 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the brown sugar and cinnamon. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and evaporated milk. Gradually pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking until blended. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the back of the spoon is lightly coated, 3 to 5 minutes. It should reach 165 degrees. Do not boil or the custard will curdle.
Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (preferably stainless steel). Add the softened gelatin and whisk until melted. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk and the amaretto (or rum). Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours, or overnight.
In a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the almonds, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
Once cool, whisk the ice cream mixture and pour into the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer the ice cream to a container, stir in the toasted almonds, cover with plastic wrap gently pressed into the surface and freeze until firm.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional information per serving: 211 calories (53 calories from fat, 25 percent of total calories), 6g fat (1g saturated, 0g trans fats), 85mg cholesterol, 31g carbohydrates, 9g protein, 1g fiber, 99mg sodium.
Source: Adapted from Eating Well magazine