Celebrating the Delicate Flavor of Honey
If you’ve never taken a moment to appreciate the subtle sweetness of honey or have a special honey you’d like to showcase, this recipe is the perfect way to do it. My homemade honey ice cream recipe pays homage to the original Häagen-Daz honey vanilla ice cream, which unfortunately has been retired. With just six simple ingredients and no refined sugar, this naturally sweetened treat is a delightful alternative.
Discover the Wonder of Honey
Honey, with over 300 diverse types worldwide, offers a wide range of flavors and colors, unlike plain old granulated sugar. While testing this recipe, I experimented with two variations—one using 2/3 cup of honey and the other using 1/2 cup. The first batch had a rich honey flavor, but remained slightly soft even after chilling overnight. Reducing the honey to 1/2 cup resulted in the perfect scoop-able texture. For the best balance of taste and texture, I recommend using 1/2 cup of the most robust honey you can find.
- Using 2/3 cup of honey intensifies the honey flavor but yields a softer set.
- Using 1/2 cup of honey produces a lighter honey flavor and a firmer set. Both versions are absolutely delicious!
The Secrets to Soft and Creamy Ice Cream
Homemade ice cream is best enjoyed within a day or so of churning as it tends to harden in the freezer over time. Household freezers are typically set at a temperature that is too low for optimal ice cream storage. However, I’ve developed a few tricks over the years to ensure ice cream stays soft and scoop-able:
- The Honey Effect: Honey plays a vital role in keeping homemade ice cream soft. Unlike other ingredients, honey remains liquid even at extremely low temperatures. Consider using a few tablespoons of honey in future recipes to take advantage of this unique quality.
- Egg Custard: A rich custard ice cream base contributes to a creamy and smooth texture in the freezer.
- Extra Fat: Higher proportions of heavy cream or the addition of cream cheese prevent solid freezing, resulting in a more scoop-able consistency.
- Spike It: Incorporating alcohol into the ice cream base—2 tablespoons for a milder flavor, or 4-5 tablespoons for a more pronounced taste—lowers the freezing point, keeping the ice cream soft. Choose an alcohol that complements the flavor of your ice cream or opt for vodka for a neutral addition. Keep in mind that alcohol should be consumed responsibly and is for adults only.
Variations for Honey Vanilla Ice Cream
- Whole Vanilla Bean: For a more intense vanilla flavor, use a whole vanilla bean. Add the seeds and the pod to the milk and cream while bringing them to a simmer. Remove the pod before continuing with the recipe.
- Agave Syrup or Maple Syrup: Instead of honey, experiment with the natural sweetness of agave syrup or maple syrup. To reduce the water content in maple syrup, briefly boil it before adding it to the recipe (see my Maple Walnut Ice Cream Recipe for more details).
- Unique Honey Varieties: Try using lavender honey, manuka honey, or a local honey variety for a truly distinctive treat.
- Honeycomb Bits: Fold in honeycomb bits before freezing or add them directly to the ice cream machine at the end of the churning process.
- Spice It Up: Raid your spice cabinet for inspiration. Cinnamon, cardamom, or even a touch of cayenne can add a unique and exciting flavor to your ice cream.
- Almond Extract: Substitute vanilla with almond extract for a delightful twist.
Special Dietary Considerations
- No Egg Honey Ice Cream (Philadelphia Style): Omit the eggs and skip to step 7, adding all the ingredients directly to your ice cream machine. While the result may be slightly less creamy, it’s still a great option.
- Dairy-Free Honey Ice Cream: Use coconut cream and coconut milk to create a dairy-free version of this delectable treat.
- Soft Serve Honey Ice Cream: Scoop the ice cream straight from the machine and serve immediately.
- Raw Honey Ice Cream: For a no-heat version, add the honey to the chilled custard mixture. You can even drizzle it into the ice cream while churning.
- No-Churn Honey Ice Cream: Follow the New York Times’ method by freezing the ice cream mixture in ice cube trays. Then, process the frozen cubes in a blender or food processor until it reaches a soft serve consistency.
The Recommended Ice Cream Machine
I am often asked about the ice cream machine I use, and I proudly recommend Cuisinart. With its simple yet efficient motor-driven freezer bowl, it quickly churns out perfect ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. Durability and ease of use are its greatest assets.
If you own a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can also consider purchasing their ice cream maker attachment, which yields fantastic results.
Explore Endless Possibilities with Ice Cream
Put your ice cream maker to excellent use this summer! Try out these delicious ice cream flavors:
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
- Wild Blueberry Ice Cream
- Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream
- Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
- Fresh Lemon Ice Cream
Remember, there’s nothing quite like homemade ice cream to satisfy your sweet cravings. So go ahead, indulge in the incredible world of ice cream making.
To find more exciting ice cream recipes and resources, visit Ice Cream. Happy churning!