We all know the Vitamix blender makes the best frozen cocktails, and it was one night, after a stellar round of Pina Coladas, I was inspired to make a pineapple sorbet with leftover frozen pineapple chunks and simple syrup. It was perfect, the texture was super smooth, and I didn’t see how it was possible to make a better one. That got me wondering, can you apply the same principle to ice cream?
It turns out, you can! And it’s awesome!
Here’s how it works: traditionally, ice cream is churned as it is frozen. As the mixture freezes, the constant motion ensures the smallest possible ice crystals are formed, resulting in the smoothest possible ice cream. However, the hand-cranked ice cream machine was first patented in 1843, and aside from using a motor in place of a hand crank, and refrigerant gas instead of ice and salt, nothing about the design has really changed. Surely there must be a better, quicker and more efficient way to make ice cream?
There is, and it is called the Pacojet. It can be found in every serious high-end restaurant kitchen in the world, and is widely regarded as the best ice cream machine on the planet. It works on the exact opposite principal to the churning/freezing machines. An ice cream base is frozen solid inside a special beaker, and when connected to the machine, a set of blades, spinning at 2000 rpm plunge down through the frozen mixture, shaving off microscopic layers as they go. The process takes 20 seconds, and the result is the smoothest ice cream you will ever taste. The only downside is that it costs a little over $5000.
The good news is that with a few modifications and a little finesse, you can replicate the process in the Vitamix with almost identical results. It works because the motor is so awesomely powerful and fast. Since I started using this method, I won’t make ice cream any other way. One of the things I love about it, is that I can make ice creams that have less sugar and fat, but still come out with a perfect texture.
Here's how you do it.
Make a base for ice cream using any recipe you like, and assemble it in the Vitamix jug. If it is a cream/sugar or a sorbet base, blend until combined and the sugar is dissolved. If it contains eggs or chocolate, blend on high for 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and hot, the chocolate is dissolved or the custard is cooked through. I love how this process begins and ends in the Vitamix jug!
Pour the mixture into a Ziploc bag. Seal it up and run it under the cold tap to chill. It could be any kind of container, an ice cube tray would be great, but a Ziploc bag is easiest, and allows you to lay the mixture flat in your freezer, taking up the smallest amount of space.
After the mixture has frozen solid for several hours, remove it from the freezer, break it up into manageable chunks and place in the Vitamix.
Now, keeping one hand firmly on the base of the jug, go straight to high speed and use the tamper to force the mixture down into each corner, then the middle, allowing the motor to come up to full speed in between plunges. This is quite a physical process, but the motor is more than capable of handling it. Stop as soon as you feel the mixture is smooth. It should take no more than 15 seconds.
Bear in mind that we are not making a smoothie here, and if the mixture becomes liquid enough to turn on its own then you have probably gone too far. (If that happens you can just freeze the mixture again and repeat the process.)
Decant to a suitable container, place in the freezer to firm up for five minutes while you wash out the blender or prepare the rest of your desserts, then enjoy your world-class, perfectly textured ice cream.
Any recipe you like will work well with this technique, and quantities around a pint at a time are best for processing. Here’s one of my favorite recipes.
5oz Dark Chocolate, broken into chunks
5oz Light Corn Syrup
10 oz Fresh Coffee
Squeeze of Lemon
Pinch of Salt
Blend until chocolate is melted and combined, freeze and process using the above method. How easy is that?
Here are some more recipes to try from my colleagues at The Chopping Block:
What goes great with homemade ice cream? Cookies, of course! This year, we're having TWO different cookie exchanges at our Merchandise Mart location. Reserve your spot now as space is limited. At each event, you'll go home with over 12 different types of cookies!
- Holiday Cookie Exchange Sunday, December 17 1pm (just 3 spots left!)
- International Cookie Exchange Saturday, December 22 1pm
And if you want to get a jump start on your cookie baking (perhaps to sandwich around some of this ice cream), download our free 12 Days of Holiday Cookies.