I have a new ice cream machine, and I have been having some difficulties creating decent ice cream.

The latest recipe I have tried is: http://www.food.com/recipe/white-chocolate-raspberry-ripple-ice-cream-91447

  1. Step 7 states:

    Cook over medium heat until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring constantly Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the white chocolate until melted and smooth.

    Apparently this is supposed to take 20 minutes or so, but as soon as I put the mixture in the pot, it already coats the back of a spoon, leaving a clear mark, dripless. Should I still cook it for 20 minutes?

  2. The ice cream turned out more like mousse instead of ice cream, perhaps I didn't beat it enough in the mixer?

  3. The raspberry 'ripple' ended up freezing solid, and is just icy.

I tried a simple vanilla recipe the other day which didn't involve cooking the custard, and that worked quite nicely. However this recipe and another chocolate recipe which required cooking the custard turned out the same - was more like frozen mousse than icecream (completely different from the vanilla)

Any suggestions?

  • I don't see it saying 20 minutes anywhere in the recipe - though it should take some time for the liquid to come up from cool or room temperature to the point where custard sets. But it is a little funny that your custard apparently coats your spoon before it's cooked. That'd tend to suggest a mistake in the recipe or your following of it, since if it's that thick before it sets, it's going to set really firm.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:30
  • What makes it thick? The amount of cream, or eggs...? I am using jumbo sized eggs... Jan 17, 2012 at 11:21
  • I read the recipe more thoroughly, and noticed something I think is the cause. Eggs might be an issue too though.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 17, 2012 at 14:45
  • As for the ripple, it has almost no solids, you are creating water ice - no wonder that it froze. Try making a ripple from sugar syrup and/or add alcohol (a tbsp should be enough) or emulsifiers.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 17, 2012 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


This one could just be the recipe's fault. I see now that it has you pour, basically, boiling milk onto eggs and sugar. That's pretty unusual; it could well result in you cooking some of the egg (bad!) before it's all incorporated. In your case, it sounds like it didn't quite go that far: you may have managed to cook the custard just right by accident. It's not helping you, though, and it might result in disasters eventually, especially with smaller ratio of egg to hot milk in another recipe. A more normal process would be:

  • heat but don't boil at least some of the the milk and cream with the sugar
  • stir some of the heated milk into the eggs to bring them partially up to temperature
  • stir the warmed eggs and milk back into the rest of the milk
  • continue heating and stirring until thickened (this might take some time, but not 20 minutes)

These steps, for example, are generally what David Lebovitz says to do in the recipes in The Perfect Scoop. He's a well-respected pastry chef who's also become a bit of an authority on ice cream; I've had success with every recipe I've tried from his book. As an example, this brown bread ice cream recipe from his blog follows those steps.

As for the texture of the final ice cream, that might be because of your eggs. Recipes are calibrated for large eggs; jumbo eggs are bigger, probably about 5/4 the size of large eggs, so 7 jumbo yolks might have been about 9 large yolks. The eggs are what give French-style ice cream its smooth, silky texture, so additional egg will accentuate that. I'd try it with 5 or 6 yolks (effectively 6.25 or 7.5).

It sounds like the texture you describe may have also lacked air, which could also be due to a few other common things. This could be due to insufficient egg-beating, but that's not the usual way to get light, fluffy ice cream, so I'd hesitate to blame it. Churning in the ice cream maker (this is not the same as the previous egg-beating) is normally the primary source of air. If you don't churn it long enough in the ice cream maker, it won't be as airy. Assuming you have the type of ice cream maker with the pre-frozen vessel, it's also important that the vessel be cold enough; if the custard doesn't freeze thoroughly in there, it won't be able to hold the air.

The ripple is a separate question. Generally, if you want something like that to stay soft when frozen, the way to do it is to load it up with sugar. The frozen raspberries I've seen aren't in syrup; if yours weren't either, you just didn't have nearly enough sugar. Otherwise, I'd again blame the recipe; you could probably fix it with more sugar. You could also try keeping it in a warmer place (the door) in your freezer. As some related reading, Lebovitz has a great blog post on making ice cream softer - note that sugar content is one of the methods. He also mentions use of stabilizers and anti-crystallization agents in ice cream; the same kinds of things are used in commercial versions of things like this ripple.

So, be wary of online recipes; they're not always the best, and sometimes they're not even well-tested, especially with something like ice cream that most people don't make. And once you get the basics down (e.g. learn the process from someone very trustworthy like Lebovitz), you can take a recipe online, keep the ingredient list, and prepare it the way you know works, ignoring some of the listed steps.

  • That's right, I just used plain frozen raspberries. Thanks for the concise help & recommendations, I'll give them a go and let you know how it turns out! Jan 19, 2012 at 14:43

Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of your custard. It should be around 170°F / 76°C. The whole "coat the back of a spoon" thing is a little tricky since the thickness of the custard will depend on the ratio of milk vs cream, the amount of egg yolks, the size of the egg yolks etc. Of course, if you never change your recipe and always use the same size eggs you can learn what the custard should feel like. But if you are like me and use different recipes and buy different eggs a thermometer is much more reliable.

(There are much cheaper options available than the one I linked to, but that is the one I use and I highly recommend it.)

  • Why do recipes say to cook custard for 20mins? Surely it wouldn't take 20mins to reach 76 degrees? Or does it need 20mins at that temperature? Jan 16, 2012 at 12:04
  • 1
    It definitely does not need 20 minutes at that temperature. When your custard reaches the prescribed temperature it is done. However, you should be aware that if you cook it in a bain-marie it will take longer than if you heat it in a saucepan directly on the stove top. But 20 minutes still seems excessive, even for a bain-marie. Jan 16, 2012 at 14:29
  • @DavidLawson: Like I said above, the recipe doesn't say to cook it that long. I tend to agree with Henrik here: on very low heat, being careful not to overheat it, it might well take a while, but 20 minutes is a lot.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:31
  • I've ordered one of those thermometers, will try making some ice cream with it when it arrives! Jan 17, 2012 at 11:20

Another thing which I don't think anyone has touched on: especially with the pre-chilled container type of ice cream maker (as opposed to the $300+ ones with compressors), it is important that the liquid you put into them is cold. Not frozen, but as close as possible. Room temperature is too warm—at least refrigerate it.

If you want to really get it cold, you can freeze part of the custard (an eighth of it or so), refrigerate the rest, then mix the frozen part back in. Keep stirring until it melts; at that point your custard will be right at freezing.

  • Great trick (about freezing part of the custard), thank you for sharing it.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 17, 2012 at 23:12
  • You can also just throw all of the custard in the freezer, and make sure to pull it out at a point at which it'll all be liquid after stirring. Another common method I've seen (more trouble) is to make an ice-water bath, put the bowl of custard in that, and put it all in the fridge.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 18, 2012 at 18:55

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