I’ve spent years trying to develop a low carb ice cream recipe that doesn’t freeze to a solid brick. As you know, sugar is the magic ingredient in store-bought ice creams that keeps it scoopable out of the freezer. Well, sugar and other emulsifiers, which I’m sure are equally as bad for you as sugar. Making low carb ice cream that you don’t have to microwave before you can scoop it is a bit challenging to say the least.
Last week, the day that every keto/low-carbing Canadian has been waiting for for 2 years arrived… Loblaws started carrying Halo Top. Rejoice! My friend Bonnie and I ran over to Zehrs and bought 20 pints between us, giggling like schoolgirls the whole time. We struck the jackpot, and nobody else knew about it yet (a week later the shelves were wiped out). As I sat there shoveling Peanut Butter Swirl and Oatmeal Cookie, consecutively into my pie hole, I read the ingredient list on the carton, and pondered. It’s made with some cane sugar, but sweetened mostly with Erythritol and Stevia. They use guar gum, which I have used, as well as xanthan gum, both of which makes a creamier, more dense ice cream, but does nothing to soften the freezing point. So what was the secret ingredient Halo Top uses that I don’t know about? I posed this question on our Facebook group, and my fellow admin Michael Ragan pointed it out as plain as day – vegetable glycerin. He’s very matter-of-fact like that, lol.
So, I started burning up the Google, looking for recipes that used vegetable glycerin to start my new purpose of life experiment. Most recipes I found used nut milks (almond, coconut, cashew) in conjunction with either heavy whipping cream and/or half & half. We ordered some Now brand, food-grade vegetable glycerin on Amazon, and I busted out my last precious vanilla bean and set out to make my first, highly anticipated scoopable vanilla bean ice cream. I used unsweetened cashew milk because that’s what I had opened in the fridge, and the only deviation I made was using erythritol rather than the recommended xylitol, as I have dogs and xylitol doesn’t enter my home, not even for ice cream.
I knew something was off when I pulled the bowl that had chilled overnight and tried pouring it into my ice cream machine. It was congealed.. kind of jiggly and jello-y. Nonetheless, I plonked it into my machine and let it churn, then froze it overnight. With ice cream scoop in hand and a bowl of fresh strawberries at the ready, I was ready to scoop. THUNK. The sound of a stainless steel ice cream scoop hitting a solid brick of frozen cream. Well crap. Ok, so it was slightly less frozen than my old stand-by recipe, but it still took a good 20 minutes of sitting on the counter before I could scoop it. It scooped out in tiny, broken chunks and though the flavour was good, it was very icy and crumbly, and definitely not worthy of my last vanilla bean.
Then it hit me… the nut milk. I’ve never used nut milk in any of my ice cream recipes. I go for the full egg yolk, cooked custard with all the high fat cream. Using my standard recipe, I changed a couple variables, doubled the vegetable glycerin to 2 tbsp, and went in for round 2.
This is it, guys. This is as close as I’ve ever got before. Ok, it’s still a bit hard out of the freezer, but literally 5 minutes on the counter and it’s ready to scoop. About the time it took to get my camera set up. No microwave required. Now that we have the base down, the possibilities are endless. This is going to be a GREAT summer 🙂
Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
- 2 cups half & half cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups Erythritol (or sweetener of choice)
- 4 egg yolks
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum (or Glucomannan)
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp lemon extract
- 2 tbsp vegetable glycerin
- Zest from 1 lemon
- In a blender, add half & half and first cup of heavy whipping cream, along with erythritol, egg yolk and lemon juice and xanthan gum. Bend until smooth.
- Transfer mixture to a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until steamy and just starting to bubble, or at the first hint of an ‘eggy’ smell, then remove from heat.
- Whisk in butter, and allow to melt and cool for several minutes.
- Transfer to a medium bowl, then whisk in second cup of whipping cream, lemon extract, vegetable glycerin and lemon zest.
- Press plastic wrap onto the surface of custard. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full, and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Once done, transfer to a sealed container and place in freezer
- Allow ice cream to set up in the freezer for 2-4 hours before serving.