(The photos in this post are my own Rocky Road Ice Cream recipe and, spoiler alert, it’s not no-churn.)
I’d been having a craving for rocky road ice cream, my dad’s favorite. And Father’s Day was approaching. So I decided to make some and celebrate dad.
I’ve made a lot of ice cream but not a lot of chocolate ice cream, so I did some research. Meanwhile, I’ve also been hearing about no-churn ice cream—a quicker, easier way to make ice cream. Dubious that a shortcut would result in a quality version of anything but also curious about all the hubbub, I clipped recipes for both a no-churn chocolate ice cream and a more basic custard-based one.
Then Father’s Day weekend came and it was finally warm outside and the back yard was calling. So I took the easy route and made the no-churn.
Before I get into why, let’s zoom out a little and talk how to make ice cream. A basic custard-based version involves heating cream and milk, mixing in egg yolks and sugar, cooking the mixture to make a custard, cooling the custard, processing it in an ice cream maker, and freezing. Not particularly challenging, but it takes a little time.
No-churn versions involve whipping cream, folding it into sweetened condensed milk, and freezing. Definitely quicker and easier.
But—and I realize I’m bucking the all-hail-no-churn trend here—the compromise wasn’t worth it.
Why? The no-churn tasted pretty good, but the texture was disappointing. It wasn’t the creamy, rich, melt-in-your-mouth experience of quality ice cream. It was lighter and airier—like, well, inexpensive, aerated ice cream. I tried a couple of versions. One was even worse—like eating a weird, frozen, chocolatey, shaving cream.
Now, I’m an ice cream superfan. So I’ll be the first to admit that there’s almost no such thing as bad ice cream. Although I prefer the good stuff, I’m not above the cheap stuff.
But if I’m going to make it? I’m going to make ice cream that’s really good.
If you’re with me, try my Rocky Road, the result of much additional testing, tasting, and tweaking. It is indeed really good.
If you think I’m being a total ice cream snob—and I wouldn’t disagree—here’s the best no-churn recipe I found (they’re all relatively the same, but this one’s chocolate version was my favorite).
So the moral of the story? The easy route can be a time saver. But sometimes the longer one will get you to a more delicious destination.
Other ice cream and frozen dessert musings:
Encouragement for making basic homemade ice cream
Encouragement for making fruit-flavored ice cream
I tried a fruit ice cream shortcut and here’s what I thought
How to make sorbet without a recipe
Let’s talk granita
Other ice cream and frozen dessert recipes:
Basic Ice Cream—Vanilla plus lots of ideas for variations
Basic Fruit Ice Cream—for example, Peach Ice Cream or Cherry Ice Cream
Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips
Strawberry, Meyer Lemon, and Buttermilk Ice Cream
Mexican Chocolate Granita
Orange Creamsicle Floats with Sparkling Wine
Sparkling Wine Floats with Apricot-Vanilla Sauce
PB&J Ice Cream Sandwiches on Toast with Berry “Jam”
Icy-Cool Wine Slushes