It’s Friday, which means you made it to another weekend here in quarantine times! And you know what, I think that’s something to celebrate with the best chocolate ice cream recipe. Full disclosure, this recipe is not mine, but reposted from Salt and Straw, a local scoop shop that serves up some very fun flavors in very decadent ice cream that is all totally worth the line.
The good people at Salt and Straw were kind enough to release the recipe for their ice cream base, which uses xanthan gum instead of eggs for that extra decadent, creamy mouthfeel. Now, xanthan gum may sound scary, but it’s actually a commonly used food ingredient that is widely used as a stabilizer for your salad dressings (I use it all the time at my job) and as an egg replacer in some baking recipes I’ve seen in the vegan community. It is produced through fermentation of simple sugars by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris, which is also the same bacteria responsible for black rot on several cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.
The reason why this gum is used in foods (specifically salad dressings and some ice creams) is because it has a magically property known as “shear thinning”. When stable, xanthan gum forms a loose gel in foods, which is strong enough to suspend particulates (think, garlic and herb chunks) and oil droplets in your salad dressing. But, under agitation (such as shaking the salad dressing bottle), the gel breaks and normal flow is restored to the liquid (which is why it’s pretty easy to shake and pour a bottle of salad dressing).
Let’s apply this same principle to ice cream making. When the ice cream base is still a liquid, the xanthan gum works as a thickening agent and helps stabilize the emulsion of fat particles in water (cream (mostly fat) in milk (mostly water)). When it comes to the churning process, agitation is applied as the base is churned and whipped, and shear thinning of the xanthan gum allows the base to be churned smoothly, as if the xanthan gum wasn’t even there. After churning, the whipped and frozen ice cream is put into a container and frozen, allowing it to rest, which allows the xanthan to return to stabilize the now churned base once more. The result is very smooth, very scoopable, and very decadent ice cream that is really a level up from other home-made ice creams that I’ve made in the past.
What I also like about using xanthan over using eggs or egg yolks is that this makes the resulting ice cream have a much cleaner flavor. In the video version of the recipe linked below, Tyler Malek mentions this point as well, and I couldn’t agree more. When you use egg yolks, the resulting base will taste like eggs. When you use xanthan gum, the resulting base will taste like milk, cream, and whatever flavor you used. It’s an awesome technique that I totally recommend trying!
Xanthan gum is readily available on Amazon and also in some stores, so check it out if this so intrigued you! You only use a very small amount per batch, so the investment will last a while. I’ll link a transcribed version and a video version to the recipe I made from Salt and Straw below. The picture above was from a previous trip to the Salt and Straw scoop shop in Venice Beach, because this batch of ice cream didn’t last long enough for me to take nice pictures!
Happy Ice Cream Making, friends!
Transcribed Recipe: Linked here!
Video Version: Linked here!