Olivia Dish

Too Sweet, By Half

In Homemade, Sweets, Taste Tests on December 14, 2012 at 12:37 am

Would Jeni’s ice cream be as splendid with half the sugar?

I wrote a while back about making Backyard Mint ice cream as instructed by the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home recipe book.

The results were mixed: I loved the scoopability but didn’t like how sweet it was.

In fact, it was so sweet that I didn’t bother making it again. Or experimenting with it.

I just went back to my old standby recipe, one I liked pretty darned much as it was.

Then a few days ago, I found a comment under the Jeni’s post.

Nadya wrote:

I was just wondering if you’ve tried a version with less sugar since?? I received this book as a gift and have tried two recipes so far. They both have been overwhelmingly sweet for my taste, but i did enjoy the creamy texture. Any luck cutting some of the sugar out?

I wasn’t alone! Someone else found the recipes too sweet. I was finally inspired to try cutting the sugar, to see what happened.

So I pulled out the book, got my hands on some fresh mint, and gave it another go.


Sugar, corn syrup, corn starch

Jeni’s recipe calls for 2/3 cup of sugar, plus two tablespoons of light corn syrup.  This you mix with milk, then boil for 4 minutes, which I can only assume concentrates or converts sugars in the milk and adds even more sweetness.

It dawned on me that this was not too far from the sweetened condensed milk that Jake had once told me he used in his recipes for Jake’s Ice Cream.

For this attempt, I decided to cut the sugar in half.  It seemed bold–and I worried what that would mean for the texture.  Would the ice cream lose its malleability? I hesitated–so measured out the full 2/3 cup in a bowl. It was a lot.  One-third cup seemed plenty, from a flavor standpoint. So I went with it.


Less sugar, still scoopable. Should we thank the bourbon for that?

I kept the 2 tablespoons of corn syrup, figuring that the syrup contributed to the texture.  I then followed the recipe, adding the cornstarch, heavy cream,  cream cheese, and steeping the mint overnight in the milk/cream mixture.

When the mixture had cooled, I also added a tablespoon of bourbon, for two reasons–okay, three reasons: to keep the ice cream from freezing quite so much, to extract more mint flavor, and yes, because I like bourbon.

Next day, I churned the ice cream.  I could tell it wasn’t freezing with the same freaky stretchy texture as the high-sugar batch had.  Still, there was some stretch.  I mixed in a little melted dark chocolate, spread the churned cream in a container, covered it with parchment paper, and let it freeze solid for most of a day.

When it was time to scoop, a pleasant surprise: the ice cream did have a nice, commercial-like quality. It was more scoopable than my traditional mint ice cream–and considerably less sweet than the tongue-stinging-sweet version in Jeni’s book.  Though better, I still found it too sweet.  Now, I wonder if reducing the corn syrup might be a good move.  Or cutting even more sugar, down to 1/4 cup.


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