Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base 10.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jul 9, 2019

Consider this soft, smooth and scoopable base your go-to blank canvas for creating any ice cream flavor you want. It's also great as is. Unlike a traditional French custard-based ice cream recipe, this one is egg-free. Instead, cream cheese lends body and a slight tang, which will be more or less prominent depending on which add-ins you choose. Cornstarch also helps thicken the base.

Recipe source Jeni Britton Bauer recommends using Organic Valley or Philadelphia brand cream cheese. Don't be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It's less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the churned ice cream from getting icy.

Make Ahead: The ice cream base needs to chill overnight in the refrigerator or, if you are using an ice-water bath (see NOTE, below), at least an hour on the counter. The churned ice cream needs at least 4 hours to set in the freezer, and is best consumed within a few weeks.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 10 servings; makes 1 1/4 quarts

  • 2 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (see headnote)

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Whisk about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Whisk together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl, until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup in a large (4-quart) saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the salted cream cheese, until smooth. (At this point, you can whisk in flavor add-ins such as fruit purees and brewed tea.) Cover the bowl; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least overnight.

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it's thick and creamy -- about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of your add-ins of choice, if using; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

NOTE: To chill the base mixture faster, pour it into a gallon-size resealable zip-top bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, at least 1 hour.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts" by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan, 2014).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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