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An Important Tip To Keep In Mind When Flavoring Homemade Ice Cream

Ice cream in a bowl with chocolate drizzle and mint
Ice cream in a bowl with chocolate drizzle and mint - Kajakiki/Getty Images

Making ice cream at home is nothing short of magic. Sure, cooking and baking are fun, but the awe inspired by watching that machine churn what was once liquid — a simple combination of dairy, sugar, and flavorings — into a light and airy, cold and creamy cloud is unparalleled.

As impressive as the process may be, making ice cream from scratch is actually a very approachable activity that shouldn't be too intimidating to home cooks who have the desire to give it a shot. Once you get the hang of it, ice cream is an adaptable blank canvas for so many of your favorite flavors to pop. But there is one very important piece of advice to make sure that whatever you put into your frozen dessert will really stand out. When using extracts, alcohols, or similar added flavorings like essential oils, be sure to add them toward the end of your mix preparation for maximum oomph, and not when cooking your custard or while it's still hot.

Read more: The Ultimate Ice Cream Brands, Ranked

The Science Of Flavorful Scoops

Vanilla extract in jars with beans and flower
Vanilla extract in jars with beans and flower - Aquarius Studio/Shutterstock

While there are many ways to make an ice cream mix, most recipes call for a step in which the ingredients are cooked or heated — particularly in custard-based ice creams. These are made with tempered egg yolks, which act as a natural stabilizer and emulsifier that keeps your finished product smooth and creamy and prevents it from becoming a fast-melting mess. Additionally, the cooking process is important for killing bacteria. However, the heat can also be detrimental to the flavor profile of your ice cream if you don't have a little patience.

For example, the chemical composition of something like vanilla extract transforms at high temperatures — and the volatiles so important to its aroma and flavor can even dissipate altogether. This means the best parts of a pricey ingredient may be evaporating into the air rather than making it into your fluffy ice cream.

To avoid this, be sure to add in those elixirs after your base has fully cooled, or just before pouring it into your ice cream maker. About a tablespoon of extract, a few drops of essential oil, or a tablespoon and a half of alcohol per quart of base should do the trick, as these tend to be concentrated and powerful liquids.

Fun Flavors To Add To Your Ice Cream

ice cream with caramel drizzle
ice cream with caramel drizzle - olga_arisphoto/Shutterstock

Vanilla ice cream may be the most popular flavor out there, but there are so many ways to turn your dairy into a dream. Classic extracts like almond, mint, orange, and coconut are common, but you can also get your hands on lesser known options like watermelon, mango, banana, and peach.

You can experiment with essential oils too, which consist of steam distilled from plants and are pure concentrated sensory firepower. You can source these in familiar ice cream flavors like peppermint, or expand your repertoire to include lemongrass, tea tree, clove and many more.

With so many options at your disposal, you're sure to find plenty that will still pair with your favorite hot fudge sauce or homemade caramel. And you can even use these additions to elevate a vanilla whipped cream. When you have the hang of this simple strategy for flavor optimization, your ice cream base will be ready to embrace just about anything you can dream up.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.