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DIVAS ON A DIME: Making creamy, dreamy homemade ice cream is so easy

It’s fun to be a little decadent now and then, right? So, how does this sound? Cold, luscious, velvety, vanilla infused ice cream. What? Vanilla isn’t your favorite? Would you like indulgent chocolate ice cream? Perhaps sweet peach ice cream with raspberry swirl or creamy espresso with chocolate pieces that melt in your mouth? Intrigued?

Now, what if I told you this ice cream you’re craving is easily made at home, with very few ingredients, without an ice cream maker and this one recipe has seven delicious variations? Sound good? Then, just sit your decadent little self down and read on.

When you combine sweetened condensed milk with whipped cream something magical happens. But! If you’re limiting your sugar and fat intake you may wish to avert your eyes, this one’s not for you. Due to the calorie and fat content, I cannot in good conscience recommend this as an everyday treat. it’s a special occasion treat not meant to be consumed every day. But, boy! This makes any day a special occasion.

We’re starting with a base of vanilla ice cream to which you’ll incorporate additional ingredients as desired to create the variations below.

EASY ICE CREAM

Yield: 8 (4 oz.) servings

Time: 5 minutes active plus 6 hours to freeze

What You’ll Need:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ teaspoon table salt

Here’s How:

In a blender, whip the cream to a soft peak stage then scrape the sides of the blender jar and continue to blend until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gradually fold in the sweetened condensed milk, adding the vanilla and salt and gently combine. Give it one more whirl in the blender (it’ll be rather stiff at this point) scraping the sides as needed. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan (8 ½ X 4 ½) or an (8 X 8 inch) cake pan and freeze for 6 hours to overnight. To store, freeze, covered, up to one week. Voila!

If you don’t have a blender you can use a stand mixer or hand mixer. I find using a blender whips less air into the mixture resulting in creamier ice cream.

Using this as a beautiful blank canvas the variations are limited only by your imagination. Some of the ingredients you’ll add when you’re blending the cream and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Others you’ll add when the ice cream is partially frozen, after 2-3 hours in the freezer, for even distribution.

Variations:

Milk Chocolate – Decrease vanilla to 1 teaspoon and add 6 ounces melted milk chocolate chips with the cream mixture.

Espresso – When blending the base add 2-3 tablespoons espresso powder, depending on how strong of a coffee flavor you want. When partially frozen, stir in ½ cup mini chocolate chips.

S’mores – To semi-frozen ice cream, mix in 1 cup milk chocolate chips, 1 cup mini marshmallows, 1 cup graham cracker pieces.

Key Lime Pie – Omit the vanilla and add ½ cup limeade concentrate with the condensed milk. When semi-frozen, stir in ½ cup broken graham cracker pieces.

Peanut Butter Cup – Add ½ cup creamy peanut butter to the cream mixture and add ½ cup roughly chopped peanut butter cup candies before freezing.

Peach Melba – Using one can of peaches, drain and reserve the juice for another purpose. Puree about 1 cup of the peaches to blend with the cream mixture. Chop the remaining peaches to add when semi-frozen. When you add the chopped peaches, top the ice cream with ½ cup raspberry jam (or fresh raspberries!) and use a knife to swirl the jam into the iced cream.

Banana Split – Puree 2 ripe bananas with the sweetened condensed milk, set aside. Follow recipe as written above. Before freezing stir in ¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries, ½ cup chopped strawberries and 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained. Pour half the mixture into a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Drizzle the top with chocolate syrup. Use a knife to swirl. Repeat with the other half, swirling more chocolate on top. Freeze.

Next time you find a special occasion worthy of a special treat, please make this ice cream. FYI – Friday is a special occasion.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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