Here in Texas, we all love to scoop up a nice bowl of ice cream or pile it high on a cone to cool down during the frequently 100°+ summer days. With Blue Bell still on recall for the summer, many of us in Waco and all across Texas have sought out alternatives to the preferred creamery of the South, though finding a replacement is extremely difficult. So just what are you to do when you’ve tried a plethora of frozen confections, yet they all manage to fall short? Make your own ice cream, of course! There are several perks to making your own ice cream: you can control the consistency and the sweetness, you can make any flavor your heart desires, it’s a great summertime science lesson, and it’s just plain fun. Here at the Dr Pepper Museum, we’ve tested out a few methods and recipes to find the best way to make our own homemade ice cream, (which we will be serving up Saturday, July 25th from 1-3PM) and we’d love to share our findings!
Every ice cream mixture needs a good base. Many homemade ice cream adventurers swear by an egg custard method, which can be messy and time consuming, but does yield a slightly creamier texture. If you’re aiming to impress with your culinary prowess, the egg custard may be right up your alley, but when looking for a fun and tasty treat to make with ease, a Philadelphia style base is simple and delicious. All you need to make about two quarts of ice cream is 6 cups of whole white milk, and 2 14-oz cans of sweetened condensed milk. Whole milk is important! It has the most fat content, around 3.25%, and is homogenized (the fat molecules are evenly distributed, so they don’t separate to the top). As you mix the ice cream, the fat clusters break up and air pockets are created, giving the ice cream its smooth texture. That’s why low- or no-fat ice creams don’t taste nearly as good as the fatty stuff.
As for flavoring, if you have a syrup you’d like to add, such as a soda syrup, vanilla extract, fresh fruit juice, or even a coffee syrup, just add it into the milk and condensed milk base to taste, and stir it together. For a flavor where you don’t have a liquid on hand to pour straight in, there is a solution! Say you wanted to make a buttered popcorn flavor. Just make the base normally, then pour it into a pot on medium heat. While waiting for the base to warm up, pop the bag of popcorn, and mix in the popcorn as it dissolves a little into the base. Stir frequently, and heat the base until there are small bubbles forming, but do not let the mixture boil.
Pour the mixture (with the popcorn still in it to infuse the flavor even more) into a refrigerator-safe container, let it cool with the lid off, then place it in the fridge for at least 3 hours. This is also important for the texture of the ice cream. If the mixture starts out at room temperature when you put it into the maker, it takes longer to freeze and creates large ice crystals, which disrupt the creaminess. But if the mixture is already chilled it will freeze more quickly in the maker, and produce smaller crystals. When your 3 hours are up, remove the mixture from the fridge, and strain out any of the chunky bits left.
Now, if you have an ice cream maker, pour the strained mix into the canister and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, usually involving ice and salt. But what to do if you don’t have an ice cream maker on hand?
Take a quart sized zip-top plastic baggie and fill it a little over halfway with the mixture. Place the quart bag into a gallon sized zip-top baggie filled with ice and rock salt and get to shakin’! Shake it for 15-30 minutes or until it starts to thicken up. If the bag is too cold to hold with bare hands, try wearing gloves, or rig up a contraption with tupperware containers that will allow you to roll it around on the floor.
After you have sufficiently mixed up your ice cream, place it in back in the cleaned refrigerator safe container, and place it in the freezer for another 3 hours, or until frozen to the desired consistency. So why salt with the ice? It’s actually for the same reason you put salt on ice when it snows. It lowers the freezing temperature of the ice, so that it won’t freeze as quickly. The ice cream only needs to be a little under 32°F to freeze, but if it reaches that point too quickly, or goes too far below, the consistency and texture won’t be quite what you want in the perfect ice cream.
After reading this novel, it’s time to take a break and make your own sweet treat, or come out to the museum and get a sample for yourself! Here’s a condensed version of the recipe that might be a little easier to follow:
The Dr Pepper Museum is located at 300 S. 5th Street in downtown Waco. During the spring and summer, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM and Sunday from Noon until 5:00 PM, last ticket sold at 4:15. During the fall and winter, the museum is closed on Mondays; other days remain the same. For more information, visit us on the web at
drpeppermuseum.com. To purchase your own Dr Pepper memorabilia, visit the Museum’s online gift shop.