Friday, July 4, 2014

Low Carb Sweet Cream Bases

The foundation for most ice cream recipes is what’s called a “Sweet Cream Base.” This is basically vanilla ice cream without the vanilla flavoring. There are lots of different variations of the sweet cream base. The simplest is cream, milk, and sugar. This is known as a Philadelphia style base and uses no eggs. French style uses egg yolks that are tempered and made into a custard. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book has three variations including one using condensed milk. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams adds corn syrup and cream cheese to their ice cream base in order to reduce large ice crystal formation and improve texture.

For low carb ice cream using tools found in the home, I’ve settled on two formulations: French Custard Base and Ben & Jerry’s “Whole Egg” Base. The first is much more complicated to make, but ought to result in a slightly richer ice cream. The second is super easy, but involves using raw eggs or purchasing pasteurized eggs. Most ice cream books do not use egg whites in their recipes. The claim is that the egg whites do not provide any benefit to the finished ice cream. However, I’ve found that using whole eggs whipped with a hand mixer on maximum speed results in a finished ice cream that had more overrun (i.e., air) than with just egg yolks. The ice cream is very scoopable even at low temperatures.

Future recipes that use a sweet cream base will link to this entry. It’s up to you which one to make since they ought to be interchangeable. Both recipes produce a “generous” quart of ice cream. If a recipe includes lots of solids (e.g., large nuts, cookies, cookie dough, etc.), cut back slightly on the cream/milk portions.

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.

French Custard Base

The heated cream and milk will not require boiling temperatures. Therefore, unsweetened almond milk or Blue Diamond Original Unsweetened Breeze Almond/Coconut Milk Blend may be used in this recipe. Do not skimp on the egg yolks; six are required for good results. Resist the urge to start making the ice cream before the mixture has been cooled down even if you have an ice cream maker with a compressor. A hot mixture may result in large ice crystals. Tempering the egg yolks ought to eliminate any worries of bacteria. It’s also important that the mixture is cooled rapidly using an ice bath. Slow cooling in the refrigerator could allow bacteria to grow.


 French Custard Base Ingredients

2 cups (464 g) heavy cream, divided
1 cup (242 g) unsweetened almond milk or equivalent
1½ tablespoons Truvia
Big pinch salt
6 large egg yolks
21 drops EZ-Sweetz
1 tablespoon (18 g) vegetable glycerin
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ teaspoon Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener


  1. Add the egg yolks to the 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup and let stand.
  2. In a small pot, add 1 cup of heavy cream (232 g), unsweetened almond milk, Truvia, and salt. Heat on stove top at medium heat until it reaches approximately 170 °F while stirring periodically.

    Heavy cream, almond/coconut milk, salt, and Truvia heated.

  3. Slowly pour the warm mixture from the pot into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.

    Tempered egg yolk mixture.

    Scrape the warmed egg yolks and cream/milk mixture back into the pot and return it to the stove top. Leave the 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup on the counter with a strainer on top of it.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. The temperature should not exceed 175 °F. This may take a while to thicken sufficiently.

    Custard thickened.

    Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.

    Strained custard.

    Whisk in the xanthan gum or Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener while it’s still warm. Add and mix in the remaining 1 cup (232 g) heavy cream, EZ-Sweetz, glycerin, and stir until cool over an ice bath.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in a refrigerator until cooled completely.

Ben & Jerry’s “Whole Egg” Base

Nope. No pictures. This is so damned simple, you don’t need any and I refuse to provide them.


2¼ cups (522 g) heavy cream
1½ tablespoons Truvia
Big pinch salt
2 large eggs
21 drops EZ-Sweetz
1 tablespoon (18 g) vegetable glycerin
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ teaspoon Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener


  1. Add the eggs to the 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup and beat with an electric mixer at maximum speed until they are airy and fluffy.
  2. Add the Truvia and beat with electric mixer at maximum to ensure it’s integrated.
  3. Add EZ-Sweetz, salt, glycerin, and xanthan gum or Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener. Beat with electric mixer at maximum.
  4. Add heavy cream and gently whisk until mixture is homogenous.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in a refrigerator for later or use right away.

UPDATE (2015-06-10): I created a new low carb Philadelphia style ice cream base here that’s lower in calories and requires no eggs:

Looking for chocolate? Low carb chocolate ice cream base:


  1. I'm curious as to why you use two different sweetener types. I don't have that much experience with using these (new to the low carb diet) so I truly interested in your experience.

    I'm also wondering what the almond milk contributes to this, as I don't have any experience with that either.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas here. I'm looking forward to trying it out.

  2. Every sweetener has a different kind of taste and aftertaste. Using more than one sweetener allows a more even sweetness and reduces the odds of an aftertaste. Truvia is actually two different sweeteners: erythritol and stevia. Adding sucralose yields a sweetness very close to sugar. The erythritol is important because it helps lower the freezing point.

    Ice cream is usually made from a combination of heavy cream and whole milk. Whole milk isn't desirable for low carb ice cream because of the sugars in it. It doesn't provide nearly as much milkfat as heavy cream, but it does serve other purposes. We couldn't make a custard with just heavy cream due to the high milkfat content. The unsweetened almond milk dilutes the mixture enough to allow us to make a custard. The water in the almond milk is partially boiled away like it is with whole milk.

  3. Why didn't you make a Philadelphia-style base also? I have nothing against eggs, but making the whole custard-base is a pain.

    1. Done!

  4. I tried your whole egg base and the texture was spot on!

    Was about 5.5 cups volume and the foam was surprisingly stable considering the fat content.

    I only have a freezer chilled churner and I didn't leave it in the freezer long enough so had to abort and put in a tray and whisk occasionally, still turned out great no big crystals and very light and airy.

    Next time will half the sucralose though as it was really sweet but very encouraging cheers!