I can’t stop talking about the weather, which I guess isn’t very new to you all. I tend to do this a lot, and I think maybe I should have been a gardener or a botanist or something…
I am so aware of what’s going on outside, at all times.
When I belonged to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, I went every week. Sometimes I even went more than once, just to be outdoors, away from big buildings and heavy traffic, to sit in grassy fields with a book or walk through forests of fallen leaves.
The changing seasons fill me with this sense of wonder, watching days of rain and gusts of wind turn into autumn and then winter amazes me every year. And the first warm days of spring, which hint at winter’s end, are enough to make me powerfully optimistic in all areas of my life.
Even though I know what’s coming in some sense, the fact that it does and that I have absolutely no control over it years after year makes me feel hopeful, and I’m happy to trust this great thing, outside myself.
When the first hints of summer waft in on a warm breeze, I’m ready to embrace the change of seasons.
I recently came into possession of an ice cream maker, complete with its instructional guide, and I don’t know what I was expecting, other than that it would be difficult to use.
Turns out, it wasn’t. And now I’m hooked.
For this recipe, I was aiming for something like gelato – using a recipe that didn’t require eggs, since I only had one left.
I am notorious for choosing recipes based on what I already have in the kitchen, and I make frequent substitutions, with varying degrees of success.
So, when I took a bite of this dessert, where I used skim milk instead of whole and coffee creamer instead of dry milk powder, what I tasted wasn’t gelato. It was ice milk.
Do you remember this wonderful stuff?
It used to be fairly common, a less expensive sister to ice cream but with less dairy fat, more icy and much lighter.
My grandma used to keep a carton of it in her freezer, next to the orange sherbet and not far from a cabinet behind the kitchen’s swinging door, where I’d often sneak into her secret stash of cones.
I hadn’t had ice milk – or really thought much about it – in years. You can’t buy it at my local grocery store.
Apparently, it disappeared in 1994, when the FDA changed the rules of terminology, turning ice milk into what is now referred to as “low-fat ice cream” – maybe a more marketable term, yes, but in my opinion, one that is much less charming.
Over time, as manufacturers tried harder and harder to make low-fat ice cream taste more like the regular full-fat kind, the old-fashioned texture of ice milk became more and more obscure. Now, it’s just not available.
This icy, refreshing stracciatella mixture isn’t as creamy as regular ice cream, but it’s also not as heavy. The name comes from the Italian for “torn apart,” like the chocolate bits in this frozen treat.
Eating a bowl of it, you feel refreshed, not overloaded.
Think of this stracciatella version as a mashup between the flavor of chocolate chip ice cream, and the texture of a frozen slushy or Italian ice.
As you spoon dollops of it into your mouth, the strongest sensations are cold and sweet – just the way a frozen dessert should be.
This is wonderful in the heat of summer, an ideal way to cool down. But it’s also delicious when just the first glimmer of an oncoming heatwave is in the air, early in the season. And really, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying it at any time of year.
No matter when I make it, no matter what the weather is doing outside, at least in my kitchen, it’s summer.Print
An unsung hero of the frozen dessert world, Italian stracciatella ice milk is a dark chocolate studded treat that’s surprisingly easy to make.
- Combine milk, corn syrup, and heavy cream in a large saucepan.
- In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, gelatin and coffee creamer.
- Whisk dry ingredient mixture into wet mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly over medium heat.
- Remove immediately from heat and transfer to a lidded container to cool. Stir in vanilla extract.
- Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. While it is churning, melt the chocolate. Drizzle into the machine in the last few minutes of churning.
- Add mixture to a metal loaf pan and freeze until firm. Defrost for 10 to 15 minutes before scooping.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients
Prepare all of the ingredients by measuring them and placing them out on your counter in the order they are listed. This will make it much easier to grab things as you need them when you make the recipe.
Step 2 – Prepare Base
In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, gelatin, and coffee creamer.
In a large saucepan, stir together the milk, corn syrup, and heavy cream. Add the dry ingredients to the saucepan, and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly.
Remove immediately from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
Step 3 – Chill
Pour the base into a large bowl. Cover the mixture and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. You can also chill the mixture overnight if needed, or if that’s more convenient. You want it to be really cold when you add it to your ice cream maker.
Step 4 – Churn
Add the chilled base to your ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
While it’s churning, melt the chocolate. This can be done in a double boiler over the stove, or in the microwave.
To melt on the stove, boil about two inches of water in a saucepan over high heat, and place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that can rest on top of the pan without touching the water. Turn the heat down, and stir with a heatproof spatula until the chocolate is nearly melted. Remove the bowl from the heat, and continue stirring until melted completely.
To melt in the microwave, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 15-second increments on 50% power, stirring in between, until melted.
Drizzle the melted chocolate into the machine during the last few minutes of churning.
Step 5 – Freeze
Transfer to a metal loaf pan and freeze until firm, approximately 4 hours minimum. Serve big scoops whenever you’re ready, in bowls or waffle cones.
Cool Off with a Simple, Sweet Dessert
The dark chocolate bits lend this stracciatella ice milk an extra crunchy texture, created when the sudden shock of hot to cold turns the melted dark chocolate into fine pieces.
Without the need for creating a custard on the stove, this is unbelievably easy to make, a light and delicious reminder of the summers of my childhood.
Have you ever had ice milk before, or another type of stracciatella dessert? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. And if you try the recipe, be sure to give it a rating so other readers will know how much you enjoyed it!
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Photos by Meghan Bassett, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 9th, 2009. Last updated: May 26, 2018 at 17:22 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Bassett and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.