HYDE PARK, N.Y. - Cool and refreshing, buttermilk ice milk provides a delicious tang, served here with grilled fruit skewers. It's the perfect foil for tropical fruits such as pineapples, mangoes and papayas.
Ice milk with fruit skewers is also a quickly made dessert that lets you cut down on cooking time on steamy days. You can make the ice milk a day or so in advance. Some of the fruit could be cut ahead of time, too. Then all you have to do is grill the fruit, and dessert will be ready in less than 10 minutes.
Ideal for summer, ice milk provides satisfying taste, but contains less fat and calories than ice cream. Premium custard-based ice creams, made mostly of heavy cream, sugar, eggs and flavorings, do not skimp on full-fat, calorie-laden ingredients. Ice milk has milk as its primary ingredient, and is usually a healthier substitute.
But recipes for ice milk vary considerably. Some contain eggs and added garnishes, others do not, making it difficult to strictly define ice milk. You can cut back on calories and fat by using skim milk rather than whole milk.
This recipe from the Culinary Institute of America includes egg yolks and heavy cream. This added richness makes it more similar to ice cream.
However, Peter Greweling, professor in baking and pastry arts at the institute, suggests the following variation, to make a lighter, more traditional ice milk:
"Replace the milk and heavy cream in the CIA's recipe with an equal amount of buttermilk, and exclude the egg yolks." This lighter version of the recipe yields a sherbet-like texture with an intense buttermilk tang.
"By removing the egg yolks, there's no need to cook the ingredients," Greweling adds.
Instead, combine the buttermilk (5 cups total), sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Chill the buttermilk mixture for several hours before churning in an ice cream machine.
Once the ice milk reaches a "soft-serve" consistency in the machine, transfer it to a storage container, cover tightly, and freeze it until it reaches the desired temperature and consistency.
Frozen desserts such as ice milk and ice cream get their spoonable texture from the churning and freezing process. As the liquid freezes in the canister of an ice cream machine, the vertical paddle positioned in the center of the canister - known as the "dasher" - turns through the mixture, breaking up large ice crystals and preventing the ice milk or ice cream from freezing solid.
The churning motion of the dasher also incorporates air so that the mixture grows in volume, completely filling the canister. The result is a soft and creamy frozen dessert with a light texture and very fine ice crystals.
The base for ice milk and similar frozen desserts must be very cold when it is added to the canister. If possible, allow the base to chill and "ripen" for at least several hours to be certain that it is properly cooled and that the sugar is completely dissolved and the flavors fully developed.
Do not fill the canister more than three-quarters full to allow space for the ingredients to expand as they freeze.
The following recipes are from the Culinary Institute of America's "Grilling" cookbook (Lebhar-Friedman, 2006, $35).
Buttermilk Ice Milk
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups egg yolks (from 14 to 16 large eggs)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Heat the milk, heavy cream, ½ cup of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture just reaches a boil. Remove from the heat.
Whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding about one-half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whipping constantly. Add the tempered egg mixture to the remaining hot milk in the saucepan and whisk to combine.
Return the saucepan to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon (180 F), about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the vanilla extract. Strain the mixture into a metal container and immediately transfer to an ice bath. Cool to below 40 F. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.
Stir the buttermilk into the chilled ice-milk base. Process the mixture in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer the ice milk from the machine to storage containers, and pack it tightly. Cover and freeze for several hours or overnight before serving with Grilled Fruit Skewers.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per 7.5-ounce serving: 420 cal., 11 g pro., 36 g carbo., 26 g fat, 180 mg sodium, 540 mg chol., 0 g fiber.
Grilled Fruit Skewers
8 bamboo skewers, 10 to 12 inches long
2 mangos, peeled and seeded
2 small papayas, peeled and seeded
¼ to ½ pineapple, peeled and cored
Soak the skewers in cool water for 30 minutes.
Preheat a gas grill to medium. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.
Cut the fruits into relatively equal-sized pieces. Thread the fruit onto the skewers, alternating them. Grill the fruit skewers, turning as necessary, until slightly charred and hot, about 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the fruit.
Serve the fruit skewers with the Buttermilk Ice Milk.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per 4.5-ounce serving: 70 cal., 1 g pro., 17 g carbo., 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 0 mg chol., 2 g fiber.
(These recipes, along with more than 175 others, are explained and illustrated in the Culinary Institute of America's "Grilling" cookbook, Lebhar-Friedman 2006, $35, available at bookstores nationwide or at: