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The Simple Yet Overlooked Tip For The Best Homemade Ice Cream

Ice cream in a container with scoop and waffle cone
Ice cream in a container with scoop and waffle cone - Pinkybird/Getty Images

Ice cream is an almost universally-beloved treat. It doesn't take a scientist to understand why this creamy, sweet, and exceedingly customizable frozen dessert appeals to so many, no matter the season. However, when it comes to making the absolute best ice cream at home, you do have to be as careful and exacting a scientist. Ice cream is not hard to make, but for results that knock a store-bought carton out of the park, you must be particular about a few key factors. One of these factors is the ingredients you use.

These days, there are many ways to make ice cream at home, whether you use one of the countless ice cream machines available to home cooks, or go for a delicious no-churn recipe. It's almost as fun to create this cold, sweet stuff as it is to eat, and you can make any flavor combo that you like. Ice cream recipes are also flexible, with innumerable formulas with which to experiment with. But whether you're making classic vanilla or going bold with sweet corn and maple and nutty tahini, it is imperative to use high-quality ingredients. There's no room for compromise on this rule if you want the best flavor.

Read more: The Ultimate Ice Cream Brands, Ranked

Why You Don't Want Shortcut Ingredients For Ice Cream

Ice cream in ice cream machine
Ice cream in ice cream machine - Yummy Pic/Getty Images

It's common advice that cooks should only use the best ingredients possible in any recipe, no if's, and's, or but's allowed. This isn't always true -- there's no shame in only using ingredients you can afford or find, and you can wind up with a delicious end product. However, in the case of ice cream, shortcuts won't do you any favors.

At its most basic, ice cream is simply an emulsion of milk, cream, and sugar. Many recipes call for eggs, too, which puts an ice cream into a category known as "frozen custard." This beautiful simplicity is part of what makes ice cream so great, but it also means there's nothing to hide behind if you opt to use low-quality ingredients. Using less-than-ideal components for your ice cream's base will only put a spotlight on their shortcomings. Making the dreamy, rich, and delicious stuff that you'd get at a scoop shop or grocery store requires more careful shopping.

Cream and milk are the base of most ice creams, and high-quality versions also make your other ingredients taste better. Fatty dairy products act as flavor carriers, which enhance expensive vanilla beans, fruity and roasty dark chocolate, or the freshest fruit, helping those flavors practically jump off the spoon. Follow our tips, and finding great dairy doesn't have to be hard, either.

What To Buy For The Best Ice Cream

Glasses and containers of cream and milk
Glasses and containers of cream and milk - Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

Organic milk and cream may like the best options for ice cream, and while they have their benefits (a lack of chemical treatment among them), another aspect of dairy is more important: milk fat, also known as butterfat. Milk fat is the amount of fat present in dairy products. In the U.S., it determines how ice cream is classified: A frozen dairy dessert must contain at least 10% fat to be labeled as ice cream; 12 to 14% for "premium" ice cream; and 14 to 16% for "super premium" ice cream.

More fat equals a richer, creamier texture and taste, with less risk of iciness. To achieve "super premium" status, try to find high-quality, full-fat dairy from local farms or at a natural food store. Failing that, buy the freshest dairy you can find at your local grocery store, making sure it's the full-fat stuff.

Flavorings also benefit from attention to detail. The best vanilla ice cream can't be made with extract alone, so invest in fresh vanilla beans or paste. The same goes for herbs like mint — use fresh leaves instead of extracts. Chocolate ice cream is tastier when made with pure cocoa, or chocolate bars with a high cocoa percentage, as many commercial chocolates contain stabilizers, oils, and other fillers. Dutch processed cocoa in particular will produce a deeper, darker flavor. And steeping whole spices or nuts directly into your milk or cream will blow you away.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.