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Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base

Serves 10 (1 1/4 quarts).

Note: Consider this soft, smooth and scoopable base your go-to blank canvas for creating any ice cream flavor you want. It’s also great as is. Unlike a traditional French custard-based ice cream recipe, this one is egg-free. Instead, cream cheese lends body and a slight tang, which will be more or less prominent depending on which add-ins you choose. Cornstarch also helps thicken the base. Adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts,” by Jeni Britton Bauer, who recommends using Organic Valley or Philadelphia brand cream cheese. Don’t be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It’s less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the churned ice cream from getting icy.

• 2 2/3 c. whole milk, divided

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

• 2 oz. (4 tbsp.) cream cheese, at room temperature

• 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt

• 1 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 3/4 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. light corn syrup (see Note)

Directions

Whisk about 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Whisk together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl, until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup in a large (4-quart) saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the salted cream cheese, until smooth. (At this point, you can whisk in flavor add-ins, such as fruit purées or brewed tea.) Cover the bowl; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least overnight. To chill the base mixture faster, pour it into a gallon-size resealable zip-top bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it’s thick and creamy — about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of your add-ins of choice, if using; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Chocolate Ice Cream Base

Serves 10 (makes 1 1/4 quarts).

Note: This creamy, almost chewy base is packed with cocoa flavor, but because it’s a mellow chocolate made milky with the addition of evaporated milk, it will play well without overwhelming any add-ins. Unlike a traditional French custard-based ice cream, this recipe is egg-free and relies on evaporated milk for both flavor and body. Don’t be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It’s less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the ice cream from getting icy. Adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home,” and “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.”

• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. whole milk, divided

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

• 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (55% to 70% cocoa)

• 1 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 1 1/2 c. (12-oz. can) evaporated milk

• 3/4 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. light corn syrup (see Note)

• 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Whisk about 2 tablespoons whole milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Chop the chocolate and put it in a medium bowl.

Combine the remaining whole milk, the cream, evaporated milk, sugar and corn syrup in a large (4-quart) saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil and add the cocoa powder, whisking until it is incorporated, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the chocolate. Add the salt and whisk until the chocolate is melted and incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, at least overnight. (To chill the base mixture faster, pour it into a gallon-size resealable zip-top bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, at least 1 hour.) At this point, you can whisk in flavor add-ins, such as extracts or liqueurs.

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it’s thick and creamy — about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of your solid add-ins of choice, if using; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

S’mores Ice Cream

Serves 12 (makes 1 1/2 quarts).

Note: We found that Marshmallow Fluff worked extraordinarily well, instead of marshmallows, because it stayed soft while frozen and created enticing pockets of marshmallow throughout the ice cream. Don’t be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It’s less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the churned ice cream from getting icy. From Becky Krystal, with ice cream base adapted from Jeni Britton Bauer.

• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 1 1/2 oz. graham crackers, coarsely broken into pieces (about 1 c.)

• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. whole milk, divided

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

• 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (55% to 70% cocoa)

• 1 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 1 1/2 c. (12-oz. can) evaporated milk

• 3/4 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. light corn syrup (see headnote)

• 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1 c. Marshmallow Fluff

Directions

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the graham cracker pieces and stir to coat; toast them until dark golden brown and fragrant, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pieces to a plate to cool completely.

Whisk about 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Chop the chocolate and put it in a medium bowl.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, evaporated milk, sugar and corn syrup in a large (4-quart) saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil and add the cocoa, whisking until it is incorporated, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the chocolate. Add the salt and whisk until the chocolate is melted and incorporated.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, at least overnight. (To chill the base mixture faster, pour it into a gallon-size resealable zip-top bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, at least 1 hour.)

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it’s thick and creamy — about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Meanwhile, sprinkle about a quarter of the graham cracker pieces onto the bottom of your storage container. Spray a small dish (scoop, or 2 tableware spoons) with cooking oil spray, and dollop small mounds (about 1 teaspoon) of the Marshmallow Fluff on the bottom of the container.

Once the ice cream is done churning, pack it into the storage container, alternating it with additional layers of graham crackers and fluff, ending with a layer of the add-ins on top; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Peach Ice Cream With Amaretti and Ginger

Serves 12 (makes 1 1/2 quarts).

Note: The fruit — enhanced with freeze-dried peaches for extra oomph — imparts the ice cream base with a subtle flavor and fragrance, which is a match made in heaven with crushed amaretti cookies and bits of crystallized ginger. Check Italian markets or well-stocked grocery stores for amaretti cookies. Don’t be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It’s less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the churned ice cream from getting icy. Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis. Adapted by Becky Krystal, with ice cream base adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.”

• 4 medium-size ripe peaches, pitted and coarsely chopped

• 1 c. sugar, divided

• 3/8 oz. freeze-dried peaches (1/2 c.)

• 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

• 2 2/3 c. whole milk, divided

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

• 2 oz. (4 tbsp.) cream cheese, at room temperature

• 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt

• 1 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 1/4 c. light corn syrup (see Note)

• 3 oz. amaretti cookies (about 26), crushed (about 1 cup) (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

Combine the chopped peaches and 1/4 cup sugar in a large (4-quart) saucepan. Cook over medium to medium-high heat to maintain a gentle bubbling, stirring frequently with a spatula, until the fruit has mostly broken down and turned almost jammy, about 20 minutes. Use the spatula to gently mash the fruit until fairly smooth. Cool slightly.

Grind the freeze-dried peaches in a food processor to a fine powder; some larger pieces are OK. Add the cooked peaches and lemon juice; process to form a purée. Pass the purée through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. You should have 3/4 to 1 cup strained purée. Cool completely.

Whisk about 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Whisk together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and the corn syrup in the saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula, until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth, then whisk in the strained peach purée. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, at least overnight. (If you want to use the base sooner, pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic food storage bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, for at least 1 hour.)

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it’s thick and creamy — about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Meanwhile, sprinkle about a quarter of the crushed amaretti cookies and crystallized ginger onto the bottom of your final storage container. Pack the ice cream into the storage container, alternating it with additional layers of the amaretti and ginger, ending with a layer of the add-ins on top; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with a tightfitting lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, for at least 4 hours.

Kahlua Ice Cream With Dulce De Leche and Espresso Beans

Serves 12 (makes 1 1/2 quarts).

Note: This ice cream taps into the spirit of a typical coffee shop drink, but with a decidedly evening vibe thanks to the addition of Kahlúa. The coffee liqueur infuses the base, while chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans and pockets of dulce de leche contribute different textures and pops of flavor.We’ve given a range for the amount of liqueur. The full 1/4 cup made for a powerful though pleasant boozy flavor and a softer-setting ice cream. Even if you go for the lesser amount, you’ll still taste the Kahlúa coming through. If you don’t want the alcohol, try swapping in (cooled) strong brewed coffee or espresso. Don’t be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It’s less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the churned ice cream from getting icy. From Becky Krystal, with ice cream base adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts.”

• 2 2/3 c. whole milk

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

• 2 oz. (4 tbsp.) cream cheese, at room temperature

• 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt

• 1 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 3/4 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. light corn syrup (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. to 1/4 c. coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahlua (may substitute strongly brewed/cooled coffee or espresso)

• 1/2 c. chocolate-covered espresso beans, coarsely chopped

• Heaping 1/2 c.dulce de leche (half of one 13.4-ounce can)

Directions

Whisk about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Whisk together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup in a large (4-quart) saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Cover the bowl; refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight. To chill the base mixture faster, pour it into a gallon-size resealable ziptop bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, at least 1 hour. After the base has been chilled, whisk in the Kahlúa until thoroughly incorporated.

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it’s thick and creamy -- about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Meanwhile, sprinkle about a fourth of the espresso beans onto the bottom of your final storage container. Spray a small disher (scoop, or two tableware spoons) with cooking oil spray, in order to dollop small mounds (about 1-teaspoon size) of the dulce de leche on the bottom of the container as well.

Pack the ice cream into the storage container, alternating it with additional layers of the espresso beans and dulce de leche, ending with a layer of the add-ins on top; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.