Tips & Techniques Baking & Desserts All About Ice Cream
All About Ice Cream
From a scoop of creamy, old-fashioned ice cream to a dish of sweet sorbet or a spoonful of rich gelato, iced desserts are a refreshing way to enjoy an infinite array of wonderful flavors. Ice cream is surprisingly easy to make at home. And once you sample freshly made ice cream, you will know that it far surpasses anything you can buy in a store.

Types of Ice Cream and Other Frozen Desserts
Ice creams fall into two major categories: French-style ice cream is made from a cooked egg custard that must be chilled before churning; the resulting frozen dessert has a silken texture and intense, deep flavors. Philadelphia-style ice cream, made from an uncooked base that does not include eggs, is quick and easy to prepare.

Gelato, an Italian ice cream, is made with less cream than other ice creams, and uses an egg-rich custard base instead. It has a lower percentage of fat, which means the finished product is denser and not quite as rich as other ice creams. Less air is incorporated during churning, resulting in a more intense flavor and denser texture.

Sorbet is an icy, sweet dessert made by incorporating air into a sweetened fruit puree or juice as it freezes in an ice cream maker. Prepared without milk, cream or eggs, a sorbet has an intense flavor and light texture. Most sorbets are made from fruit, although some are prepared using chocolate, coffee, wine or even pureed vegetables.

Granita is similar to sorbet in that it is a mixture of a sugar syrup and fruit puree or other flavorings. But instead of being churned in an ice cream maker, a granita is poured into a shallow pan and placed in the freezer. During the freezing process, the mixture must be scraped and stirred every 20 or 30 minutes so it does not freeze solid. The resulting dessert is granular, icy and refreshing.

Sherbet is a cross between ice cream and sorbet. Made with fruit or fruit juice, sherbet may also contain milk or, in some cases, egg whites and gelatin. Sherbet is generally coarser in texture than ice cream, with a slightly tarter flavor.