Monday, June 2, 2014

Low Carb Rocky Road Ice Cream

Rocky Road was probably my first complex ice cream flavor that I tried and enjoyed. Baskin Robbins was the only “premium” source of ice cream available to me. Everything else was store bought half gallons. There were some fancy flavor combinations available from the supermarket freezer section, but nothing spectacular. The only options I can remember were Breyer’s butter pecan, which I disliked at the time, and some awful black cherry concoction. My grandparents used to love to buy a half gallon of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream, eat all the vanilla and chocolate, leave the strawberry third in the freezer for a few weeks, and then throw it out. Yes, I mentioned to them on multiple occasions that it would be better to just buy a half gallon of vanilla and another of chocolate, but they wouldn’t hear of it. I could fill a book of all the illogical stuff I witnessed as a child...but I digress.

Fruit flavor vs. Fruit identity

I’ve been watching some videos from Emery Thompson on making ice cream. The president of the company talks about how he makes his version of cookies and cream by using actual cookies as the sweetener. The batch freezer crushes the cookies into very tiny bits while it churns such that the cookies are completely integrated into the dairy. There’s little need for additional sugar or flavoring. If you closed your eyes and ate a spoonful, you’d be able to tell what flavor ice cream it is. However, there would be no visible chunks of cookies. This is what he calls “fruit flavor.” Quartered cookies are added after the ice cream leaves the batch freezer to make it more visually pleasing. This is what he calls “fruit identity.”

I sometimes add flavoring of the added solids to the ice cream base, too. I took that approach when I made my version of cookie dough ice cream. However, when I developed my version of cookies and cream, I decided against adding any of the unique ingredients used for the cookies so that the taste of the cookie chunks would stand out. Truth be told, my ice cream maker couldn’t disintegrate those cookies into fine particles like a commercial unit anyway. I suppose that I could have tried tossing them in a food processor, but I feel that it was better not making the ice cream a wall of cookie flavoring. I think the deciding factor is the flavor strength of the individual ingredients. Roasted almonds impart a powerful flavor and aroma. They don’t need any help, so I choose not to add almond extract, for example. On the other hand, the marshmallows do kind of get lost in the mix, so adding marshmallow flavoring to the ice cream gives it balance. It’s a matter of preference and the only way to tell is to experiment. (I added a lot of marshmallow flavoring to my second batch of Rocky Road, and it provided a subtle improvement.)

I use two techniques to get the marshmallows to work in ice cream: vegetable glycerin and drying them out. Ideally, I’d love to be able to freeze dry these marshmallows. The equipment to do this (even a homemade hack) would be too expensive. Leaving them out to air dry helps. If anyone has a air-based food dehydrator, let me know if it works better.

CAUTION: Consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. Pasteurized eggs can be used in this recipe. Not every form of glycerin is fit for human consumption. For example, diethylene glycol is toxic and should not be consumed. Always verify the product is safe to use.



1 cup (128 g) roasted almonds
½ recipe low carb marshmallows with ¼ teaspoon vegetable glycerin

Ice Cream

Low Carb Chocolate Ice Cream Base
36 drops marshmallow extract (Optional)


  1. Put the container for the ice cream including its cover upright in the freezer now. This serves two purposes: it keeps the container cold and it forces you to make sure that there’s space in the freezer.
  2. Mix-Ins: Make a half recipe of low carb marshmallows. Use extra erythritol to make them sweeter and depress the freezing point further. Add ¼ teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the gelatin mixture, too.
  3. Remove the finished, cooled marshmallows from the refrigerator, cut them into small pieces and leave them out to dehydrate. We want them to get stale. Dried out marshmallows will freeze better. This will take some time, so allow a few hours to pass before continuing.
  4. If the almonds are raw, roast them in the oven on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 350 °F. Store them in the empty ice cream container in the freezer to cool down.
  5. Ice Cream: Follow the directions for the Low Carb Chocolate Ice Cream Base. Add the mix-ins a couple minutes before the ice cream is ready to be transferred to the container.
Scoop of Rocky Road Ice Cream.

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