Nomtastic! Creamy Lemon Gingersnap Ice Cream


Meet my newest culinary obsession: homemade ice cream! I recently bought an ice cream maker and felt emboldened to try my hand at creating this mysterious, exotic, rather magical food (at least when it comes to actually making it myself). I wondered how I could get homemade ice cream to taste as creamy as the kind in stores or artisan shops. I had childhood memories of my uncle (rip) bringing an old fashioned hand-crank ice cream maker to annual family reunions, and spending what felt like an eternity churning away until what we got was an icy, grainy, mushy, vaguely-vanilla flavored frozen dessert that we had to eat out of Styrofoam cups and drown in chocolate syrup to make it halfway palatable. As fond as the memory is, I didn't want to spend hours slaving away on ice cream that didn't deliver in the taste and texture department.

Enter Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. And Jeni's Ice Cream Book. I have only had this ice cream from an actual shop once, when G and I were at the North Market in Columbus in 2009, burning some time before a Morrissey concert, and we decided to get some ice cream. He got Earl Grey, I got Queen City Cayenne. When we walked back out to the car, we discovered that we had gotten a really unfair, totally unwarranted parking ticket. This could have easily dampened our spirits and cast a pall over the whole day. Luckily, however, we were holding little cups of Jeni's Ice Cream at the discovery of the Ticket. Now, the ticket still sucked, but eating said ice cream made it suck just a little bit less. Because this stuff is good. Like, really good. How brilliant is it to add a spicy kick to rich, dark chocolate ice cream? Hot, cold, hot, cold...what a delicious little shape-shifter. And how excited was I when I found out this Columbus based company would be stocking product at a local high-end grocery store? Very excited, until I realized a wee pint would be about ten bucks. Now, I would say given the top-notch ingredients they use and the unique flavors, it probably is worth that much, but man, I just couldn't justify the expense more than once every blue moon.

Now, I don't have to choose. Because the cookbook teaches you how to make many of the same flavors you can find in the shops and stores, and they taste exactly the same. And once you get acquainted with the base, you can adapt and improvise to your belly's content. And for less than the cost of of one pint in the store, you can get a quart of your flavor of choice. Another plus is that Jeni's recipes don't include eggs, so you don't have to deal with tempering them. She uses a bit of cornstarch as a thickener and a touch of cream cheese for creaminess. And, oh, it will be very creamy. And decadent. And rich. And totally worth the splurge. Once you get the basics down it really isn't too hard, and people will be very impressed with you, guaranteed.

For the recipe I'm sharing with you today, I adapted her Lemon Cream Ice Cream recipe. I'm a huge fan of lemon/ginger flavor combos, so I decided to add minced ginger and crushed gingersnaps to the base. Success was had. Keep in mind this was literally the second batch I tried, and already I was improving and feeling more comfortable with the technique and what was going on and when. I am deviating from her technique in just a couple ways because they are working better for me.

Here are some of the ingredients we're using: whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, cream cheese, ginger, lemon juice and zest. I probably don't need to tell you that this is not light ice cream. There are four parts to this particular recipe, a cream/sugar/milk/corn syrup/zest base which is cooked, a milk and corn starch slurry, a lemon syrup made from lemon juice and sugar, and a mixture of cream cheese and salt. You will need to have a few bowls handy.

I peeled strips of zest with a vegetable peeler rather than a grater, as the larger pieces are easier to remove when the base is strained later.

 Once the base has cooked properly the next step is to transfer the mixture to a plastic bag and set in a bowl lined with ice to cool for at least 30 minutes. For my first couple batches I followed Jeni's instructions on this, though I really didn't like adding super hot base to a plastic bag. I suppose it is intended to allow the most surface area of the base to be in contact with the ice, hypothetically chilling it more quickly. I didn't find this to be the case for me, my base was just cool and took a lot longer to process once added to the machine. Since this batch I have started just adding the base to a bowl, setting it in a larger bowl lined with ice and an ice pack for good measure, and refrigerating for a couple hours or even overnight. This also splits up the ice cream making process into more manageable chunks. It's a personal preference, however.

After the base has chilled you bring out the base, the gingersnaps and the reserved lemon syrup. The base is strained to remove the lemon zest and extra ginger. Make certain the ice cream canister had been in the freezer for a good 24-48 hours and to not bring it out to place in the machine base until the very moment you are ready to begin churning. Every bit of cold helps.

 After the strained base is added to the machine, the lemon syrup is poured in, and the machine is left to run for a while. The machine directions state processing takes anywhere from 20-45 minutes, and the machine shuts off automatically when it senses the ice cream is thick enough. This batch took on the long side for me because the base really didn't chill very well initially. One subsequent batch finished in just around 20 minutes because I had chilled the base overnight. It's also important to not add solid pieces (cookies, chocolate, etc.) too soon because that will cause the machine to prematurely sense completion. Wait until the ice cream is fairly thick and is just starting to pull away from the sides of the canister.

When ready, add the gingersnap pieces and run machine just until incorporated. The machine may automatically turn off, but mine didn't, so I just turned it off myself.

The ice cream base that is not totally chilled before processing may not set up as thick, but once it's frozen (around 4 hours) it tastes amazing! Not at all icy or grainy. Have some containers handy to hold all that ice creamy goodness! Top each container with a piece of parchment paper before sealing as this will help keep the surface from getting frosty. Pop in the freezer and try to wait.

So far from the book I have tried the Queen City Cayenne, the Buckeye State, this adapted Lemon Cream Ice Cream, and an adapted mint chocolate chip (infused with real mint leaves so it tasted nothing like regular mainstream mint ice cream.) A trick I've learned is that when you add melted chocolate to the almost-complete cold ice cream, the chocolate freezes and breaks up into shards, effectively creating chocolate chips! I am about to attempt this very trick with the Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream, to make chocolate covered strawberry ice cream. As I mentioned before, this has become quite addictive! 

Try it, I swear, you'll like it!

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  1. Sounds delicious! Great post :) Love your blog!

    Lorraine xx

  2. Wow! This sounds absolutely freaking heavenly. Adding those ginger snaps was really creative and I'm sure incredibly delicious! Unfortunately, I am absolute shit at anything culinary related... So I'll have to stuck to buying stuff other people make for now. :)

    1. I guess I start these projects because I'm cheap and I love a challenge. I like to see if I can do something myself rather than spend a ton on something someone else made, at least when it comes to food! Once I mastered the base recipe, it really hasn't been too hard to start adapting :)

  3. Oh my god, this sounds amazing, I am looking for an ice cream maker right now! As soon as I do I am coming back to this post and making this!


    1. Hee hee, I'm glad I could enable you! Be sure to just get a 1.5 quart maker, as a lot of recipes are designed for 1 quart yields, at least all of Jeni's recipes are. I've been using one from Hamilton Beach, and it seemes to work just fine.


Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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