Saturday, July 20, 2013


Ice cream with fresh plums.
No cream, no sugar. No ice cream maker either. Is it ice cream? Maybe not, but my house helado (the Spanish word for ice cream just means “frozen”) fills all the summer requisites—it’s icy-cold, refreshingly flavored and sweet to the taste.

My basic mix is pureed fresh fruit, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, non-fat plain yogurt and enough artificial sweetener to sweeten the mixture to taste, which for me, is not too sweet.

Blend to break up icy chunks.
I use a hand-held blender to puree all the ingredients in a bowl. The bowl goes into the freezer until the mixture is partially frozen (about 2 hours). Then I use the blender again to beat it smooth and incorporate some air in the mix.

I pour the ice cream mixture into individual cups (juice glasses, about 2/3-cup capacity), place them all on a tray and return them to the freezer. That way, I can remove one or two cups at a time, rather than softening the whole batch to dipping consistency. Individual cups are also an easy way to serve a crowd.

My original helado recipe was with nectarines (unpeeled—the flecks of skin don’t bother me), yogurt and liquid sweetener (cyclamate/saccharin). Since then I’ve been spinning off variations.

Fresh fig ice cream.
I use whatever fruit is in season—strawberries, apricots, loquats, peaches, raspberries, figs, prickly pears (that recipe is here), mangos. This week I’m using up a basket of fresh plums (see another plum recipe here). I pureed the plums, then sieved the pulp to get rid of the skins.

The plums were tart, so I needed quite a lot of sweetener. Other fruits, such as mango, need hardly any sweetening. (Mango also creates an especially creamy emulsion.)

Stevia--a natural, no-cal sweetener.

Instead of liquid sweetener, this time I used stevia leaves picked from plants that I have growing in pots (thanks, Charlotte!). Stevia, also called “sweet leaf,” is intensely sweet with a slight bitter-herb flavor. The plums were so tart that a small handful of leaves, pureed with the fruit, did not provide sufficient sweetness. So I added stevia extract, a white, no-calorie powder commercialized under various brand names, until it was sweetened to my taste.

In my next batch of ice cream (peaches coming up), I will try steeping stevia leaves in hot milk, to see if the sweetness intensifies.

Whether you use an artificial or natural sweetener, including sugar or honey, I suggest adding it to the mixture little by little, to taste.  

For the dairy component, I use part no-fat yogurt, part full-fat Greek yogurt and part non-fat queso batido, a thick, creamy quark cheese somewhat like no-fat sour cream. For an especially rich and creamy ice cream, I use a small carton (about 1 cup) of mascaparone in place of the Greek yogurt.

The mixture of fruit, yogurt and quark adds up to about 6 cups, with the fruit puree making up between 1 and 2 cups of the total.

Fresh mint complements plum ice cream.

I also experiment with added flavorings. Mint goes well with plums and with prickly pears. Basil, rosemary or thyme pairs with nectarines and peaches. Ginger is a natural with mango. Figs want vanilla. Cardamom spices up apricots.

Creamy and icy at the same time.

This home-made ice cream needs to soften 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Then it’s creamy, but with a slight icy texture. Personally, I love it that way.

Some more ideas for home-made ice creams appear here.

Leche merengada, ice milk with egg whites and cinnamon.


  1. Thanks for the great idea, Janet. I just tried it with mango and it's delicious. It's always fun to check in to see what you are up to in the kitchen.
    Un besito,
    Lisa (Your January '13 Mijas visitor)

    1. Lisa: Glad you liked the "ice cream." Nice to hear you keep in touch via the blog. Saludos!

  2. Yyaaaay ! Finally ! They all look delicious and inspire me to get right to it .....Make it tomorrow ?, the next day ?
    Must get to bed...More comments maƱana...Besos, C