The great Ice Cream Experiment 2: Sweeteners

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So this is The Great Ice Cream Experiment 2! Here is a link to The Great Ice Cream Experiment 1: The Effects of Fat, if you missed that. In this experiment, we will be focusing in on using different sweeteners. I used white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, and honey.

This is the same basic ice cream recipe that I used in Experiment 1. I’ll run through the basics of the recipe with you here too. First, you will whisk together egg yolks and half a cup of your chosen sweetener. The mixture should become light and fluffy, or at least light. The dry sugars all became light and fluffy, but the syrups just lightened and didn’t really fluff much. The first picture is with brown sugar, see how fluffy it is, and the second is with corn syrup, it isn’t nearly as fluffy!

Next, place half & half and heavy cream in a medium saucepan with half a cup of your chosen sweetener. Bring this to a boil. Be careful if you are using honey, it boils over very fast! I turned my back for a second and wham! it was everywhere… Anyway, the first image is with powdered sugar, the second honey, and the third corn syrup.

Next, you are going to whisk a small amount of the boiled cream into the egg yolks, then whisk all of the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook and stir until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in vanilla. Then refrigerate it overnight, or until very cold. Freeze in your ice cream maker. This is a picture of the frozen maple ice cream.

So that is the basic recipe, now what about the results?! Let’s start simple with the white sugar. This was kind of the control. I typically use white sugar when I make ice cream so I wasn’t surprised at the results. Making this ice cream white sugar creates a good basic ice cream that lets the vanilla flavor through nicely and doesn’t cover it up at all. It’s good.

The brown sugar ice cream is my personal favorite because I LOVE brown sugar. You can still taste the vanilla quite well but there is also a lovely brown sugar flavor. This would be great to serve with an apple crisp! Just sayin’.

The powdered sugar ice cream wasn’t quite what I had expected. Somehow the vanilla flavor was not very intense, not nearly as tasty as the white sugar ice cream. But I suppose it would do in a pinch if that was all the sugar you had and you needed some ice cream. Using powdered sugar also resulted in a very smooth texture of the finished ice cream. Another interesting thing was this ice cream froze in the ice cream maker much faster than my ice creams usually freeze.

The ice cream made with corn syrup was very interesting, but not necessarily good. First off this is another sweetener that seemed to muffle the vanilla flavor. Actually, it really didn’t taste like much at all. It was also super hard! I’m talking really hard to scoop out. It also had a very odd texture, it was thicker and very creamy with an almost sticky feeling. The texture was odd but actually kinda nice. So, flavor bad/neutral but texture good. You can just see how smooth this ice cream is!

The honey ice cream was good. It had a bit of an aftertaste. I think the amount of after taste would depend on the type of honey you used though. I just used the generic “clover” honey from the grocery store but a more delicately flavored honey might work better or just less honey in the recipe. The honey ice cream had a super strong honey flavor and a lovely texture. It was also insanely easy to scoop, I’m talking a four-year-old could scoop it with ease. It was like slicing butter with a hot knife! Be sure to watch it carefully when you are heating the cream with the honey it will boil over very fast if you’re not careful.

Finally, the maple ice cream. This ice cream had a good maple flavor and would taste great with pancakes! Ha! or anything else really. The texture was just a touch ice crystally, not bad though, it just wasn’t as creamy as some of the others.

Here are the results of the experiment in a nutshell:

This is not by any means an exhaustive list of different sweeteners to use. You could, of course, try several other different sweeteners like agave nectar, coconut sugar, raw sugar, stevia… you could even try Pixi Stick powder! Just to give you a few more ideas to try. Remember there is no failure, only learning. Let me know it the comments what sweeteners you try and what your results were.

The great Ice Cream Experiment 2: Sweeteners
The Great Ice Cream Experiment 2: this is an experiment in which you take a basic ice cream recipe and use different sweeteners in it to see what you prefer. Use your creativity and have fun!
  • ½c. sweetener (your choice)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1½c. half and half
  • 1c. heavy cream
  • ½c. sweetener (same as the above-chosen sweetener)
  • 1t. pure vanilla extract
  1. Whip together the egg yolks and ½c. sweetener until light and fluffy (the fluffiness may very depending on the sweetener chosen). Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring the half & half, heavy cream, and remaining ½c. sweetener to a boil. Stir and watch carefully as some sweeteners will making this mixture boil over very fast.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk about ½c. of it into the egg yolk mixutre. Whisk all of the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
  4. Return the saucepan to the heat. Cook and stir until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  5. Refrigerate overnight or until very cold. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Original Recipe By: Rilla Banks (A.K.A. Epic Sweet)