Ice cream can make some of the best and easiest summer desserts. But there are ways to work with it to get the best results. Most important - buy the best ice cream you can afford. Cheaper varieties have more air in the mix, so they are less creamy and have less flavor. And second - be patient. Ice cream can be tricky to work with. You should work fairly quickly so it doesn't melt too much, because it will lose the crystallization that gives the treat its unique texture.
But don't rush and enjoy the process.
Tips for Working with Ice Cream
- Let ice cream or sorbet stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before using it. You can soften it in the microwave, but you run the danger of having it melt completely. And it will never be the same.
- Never let ice cream melt completely and then refreeze. The air that is whipped into the ice cream when it is made will escape and you'll be left with a frozen, solid chunk of ice crystals.
- Dip the spoon or ice cream scoop in warm water and dry it off before each scoop.
- There are now ice cream scoops that have antifreeze in the bowl to make scooping easier. Others have non-stick coatings. And you can always rely on the old-fashioned manual scoopers with a metal sweep to release the ice cream.
- The ice cream should be just soft enough to scoop easily.
- If the ice cream melts, the original texture will be lost, so keep an eye on it. If it's getting too soft or liquid as you're working with it, put it back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
- Super premium ice cream, which contains a lower percentage of air, can be easier to work with because there is less air to escape as the mixture melts and softens.
- Let the dessert stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving or slicing it to make that task easier. The flavors will also be more pronounced if the dessert isn't frozen solid when it's eaten.