Monday, April 28, 2014

Getting the Skinny on Real Ice Cream

It takes Alchemy to make great ice cream. I know.

I'm an Ice Cream snob. I grew up eating good ice cream. It's the one thing I would always choose over anything else including an ice-cold martini.

A self-anointed ice cream expert who has tried just about every flavor out there, I keep going back and forth as to what my favorite flavor is exactly.

Today it's lemon because I frankly can't find a single lemon in the city of San Miguel.

So much for making it today.

I have a long history with ice cream. My daily obsession back in the late 60's was Bing's Flan de Limon. In fact, Bing's Ice Cream was reason enough to be living in Guadalajara as far as I was concerned.

Last year, when I came to San Miguel, I was suffering from ice cream withdrawal after a few months. Actually, I was pretty surprised I made it that long.

The Mexican ice creams from the street carts just didn't do it for me.

I was an addict on a mission to find "real" ice cream.

So what is "real" ice cream? Well, how many times have you sat down with a spoon and polished off a tub in one sitting and wouldn't share it with anyone? That's "real" ice cream.

Here's some of what makes it so delicious...

Butterfat Content

The butterfat factor is one of the most important factors which defines great ice cream. Premium ice cream contains anywhere between 13% to 17% butterfat.

High Quality Ingredients

Ice cream is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. In other words, high quality ice creams are made with high quality ingredients.


Remember your ice cream takes on a whole new flavor and texture dimension when you add mix-ins.

Have you ever noticed the amount and quality of mix-ins in high quality brands vs. the less expensive ones? You have to really dig deep to get them. And some of them do not taste like the real thing. Oreo cookies are a good example.


Ice cream has air whipped in. The less air added, the higher the quality. High quality brands may cost more but you're paying for more air if you buy a less expensive brand.

When Thrifty came to SMA last year, I was at their shop the day they opened. They used imported ingredients and added chunks of fruit and cookie pieces to their ice cream. In fact, Thrifty contains 10.25 percent butterfat so by Mexican standards it's pretty rich. 

For awhile, I stopped obsessing about ordering an ice cream maker from Amazon and was content to walk the 2 km just to get a square scoop which ran 27 pesos or $2.11. My ice cream habit suddenly got a lot cheaper.

When I first did a post on Thrifty, the owner of Ambrosia emailed me and told me that Ambrosia was the only ice cream in San Miguel that was made with all natural ingredients.

In fact, if I had known then what I know now - they grow their own fruit and painstaking pay attention to each and every flavor - this love affair with Ambrosia would have started a long time ago.

Never mind that I've eaten Ambrosia a dozen or more times at many of the restaurants in town I frequent. I just never paid attention. In fact, my favorite dessert, the Salted Caramel Sundae at the Restaurant is made with a special order Ambrosia.

Once I found this out, I bought a carton of each flavor at Via Organica and Bonanza. I couldn't get enough. At this point, I was just making up for lost time.

Having mastered the art of making ice cream at home, there is one thing I learned early on: Vanilla is the benchmark and basis of all other flavors. If you can make a great vanilla, then you can make anything.

Ambrosia's vanilla was finally under the microscope and the first spoonful earned a moment of silence.

This was the perfect ice cream ... right here under my nose all along!

Buen Apetito!