The ice cream I make has a lovely, almost velvety texture, and a softness that is surprising, since I don’t start with an egg custard. Most ice cream is made with cream and milk, sugar and, if it’s French-style, egg yolks. Considered classic, French ice cream begins as crème anglaise, a pouring custard, and becomes ice cream in the churn. It was only a few years ago that I found a way to make eggless ice cream, better known as Philadelphia-style, seem as rich as custard: I added powdered milk, to provide fullness; honey, more for smoothness than flavor; and vodka — a shot of alcohol lowers the ice cream’s freezing point and makes it easy to scoop.
My new recipe was good for every kind of ice cream, including those with berries. Berries can be ice cream’s nemesis: The juice that makes them delectable in almost any other dessert makes them intractable in ice cream. But the trinity of powdered milk, honey and alcohol, especially the alcohol, changed that. Whether I used fresh or frozen berries, the ice cream’s texture was still luxurious, and for me, so much of ice cream is about texture — about the way it melts. A languorous melt is a perfect one. The slower the melt, the more flavor you get. Because no one can take a lick of ice cream and not take another (except my husband — it’s one of his most enviable, but annoying, traits), it’s nice when the flavor of one spoonful bolsters the flavor of the next.
As confinement continued, and even as D.Q. opened, I kept churning our family’s favorites, most of them involving my latest version of chocolate chips made with that magic shell mixture of dark chocolate melted with a little coconut oil. Just when the ice cream is almost ready, when the rhythm of the churn has slowed and the ice cream starts to fold and ripple as it spins, I drizzle in the melted chocolate, which firms and forms flakes — some small, some slender, some thick. I save the rest of the chocolate to spoon over scoops. Shiny and lavalike at first, the chocolate dulls and hardens, coating and capping the ice cream, so that it shatters with the tap of a spoon. Soft ice cream, snappy shell and the here-and-there crunch and melt of the chocolate flakes. So many good flavors. So many good textures. Everything I’ve always loved about ice cream, minus the itsy bits of ice.