The Science of Ice Cream

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by Amanda Causey Baity

Nothing says summer like the sound of an ice cream freezer whirring as it turns cream into frozen goodness. As a child, hearing that sound meant something good was on its way. My mom always made the best homemade vanilla ice cream and as an adult I have followed in her footsteps, perfecting my vanilla and experimenting with a lot of different flavors along the way.

Homemade strawberry shortcake ice cream.

Homemade strawberry shortcake ice cream.

And while an ice cream freezer is a nice touch, it is not a necessity. Our family has made ice cream with our stand mixer, in a freezer bag and even a large coffee can. My kids love trying new recipes and new techniques.

Sometimes we dress the ice cream up a bit, adding to the fun by making do-it-yourself sundae kits. These are great for parties or as a Father’s Day gift. Pick up some waffle cone bowls, sugar cones and assorted candies and repackage everything in clear cellophane bags with colorful labels and bakers twine. Then, make homemade chocolate sauce (recipe follows) and package it in a cute container. Create a customized box and place your kit into it, and you have an awesome present for someone special or a fun time on a summer afternoon.

Ice Cream in a Bag
You need:
• ½ cup milk
• ½ cup cream
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
• 4 cups ice
• 8 tablespoons salt (larger crystals will work better than regular table salt)

The first four ingredients are mixed together in a bowl and then poured in a Ziploc/freezer bag.

Then, the ice and salt are placed into a larger Ziploc bag, along with the first bag. After shaking this mixture together for just 5 to 10 minutes, you can open up the bags to reveal actual ice cream! All that’s left is adding toppings and enjoying your creation.

Plus, your frozen treat can be a teachable moment—there’s some really interesting science behind this cool trick: the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, thus allowing the milk mixture to freeze at a lower temperature than is normally needed. It may look like magic, but it’s pure, basic physics. Who said learning can’t be fun?

Easy Chocolate Sauce
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 3 tablespoons of butter
• 3 tablespoons corn syrup
• 6 oz. chocolate chips

Combine cream, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the sauce is almost boiling.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until melted. Cool to lukewarm and spoon into glass jars.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge.

To use, remove from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour prior to serving, or heat for 15 seconds
in the microwave.

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream

• 4 cups half-and-half or light cream
• 1 (14 oz) can sweetened
condensed milk
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• Fresh strawberries (about one cup
• 8 slices of pound cake

In large bowl, combine the first three ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into an ice cream freezer. Make according to manufacturer’s instructions.

While the freezer does its thing, clean and slice your berries. Add them to the ice cream. Slice cake into cubes, then
add these to the strawberries and ice cream mixture. Top with more berries and cake, or a whipped topping.

Amanda Causey Baity, Prince William Living’s marketing director and photo editor, also blogs about thrifty family activities on her blog She can be reached at


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