The Verdict on Mark Bittman’s Faux Ice Cream

Will this turn into ice cream?

Is it possible to make satisfying ice cream without an ice cream maker, by just using a food processor?

I was curious about that when I spotted the recipe for Ginger Lemon “Ice Cream” in the new cookbook, “Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express” (Simon & Schuster).

If you’re unfamiliar with this new book by the prolific New York Times food writer, it’s quite unusual. Each recipe amounts to just one paragraph total for ingredients and directions. And a lot of times, the exact amounts for the ingredients is not specified. So you have to guess. It’s his way of showing you how to cook faster, easier, and with more flexibility. But how well does this actually work for most home cooks?

In this “ice cream” recipe, Bittman tells you how much cream, fresh ginger, crystallized ginger bits, lemon, and sugar to put into the food processor. Next, you add ice. But he doesn’t tell you the how much. So I just threw in what I thought the amount should be.

The above photo shows the resulting mixture after it’s all combined in the food processor. The photo below shows the mixture more solidified after I put it in a plastic container in the freezer for about six hours.

Ice cream without an ice cream maker.

It still didn’t have the heft of real ice cream. It was more like a richer version of ice milk. It melts fairly fast, too. I didn’t find it as satisfying as real ice cream. And I doubt that I’d make it again.

If you’re a novice cook, this book may really frustrate you. If you’re an experienced cook, you might find one or two flavor combinations or techniques worth exploring that are new to you. But beyond that, most of it will already be familiar to you. In that case, you might just want to save your pennies instead.

Ginger-Lemon “Ice Cream”

Ginger-Lemon “Ice Cream”

(Add more candied ginger if you like)

In a food processor, puree two tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped, with a half cup of sugar, two cups of cream, and the juice and zest of one lemon. Add ice, pulsing and pushing down as necessary, until thick and icy; add a couple of tablespoons of candied ginger at the end and process until just combined. Serve immediately, or freeze for up to several days.

From “Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express” by Mark Bittman

Another Mark Bittman recipe: Penne with Ricotta, Parmesan, and Peas

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  • I need to try a second dish from that book. The whole process of his “recipes” still scares me but intrigues me at the same time.

  • Thanks for going through all this work to show us what’s possible without an ice cream maker.

  • Geez, that second picture sure could have fooled me into thinking it was *well* worth it! I don’t think I’d give it time enough to melt “too fast” before it hit the inside of my mouth. Just as well I don’t dwell too much on how easy this sounds. (Sigh)

  • Aii, nothing is ever better than the “real” thing. There is a reason why it’s called the “real” thing. Glad you put Mark Bittman to the test, though.
    Is Projectfoodie one of your freelance writing jobs?

  • Sophia: Yes, it’s hard to be the real McCoy like Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs when it comes to ice cream. 😉
    In answer to your question, I am an adviser to ProjectFoodie. So I do write regular book reviews and other posts for it. If you haven’t seen the site, you should check it out. You can find a ton of wonderful recipes there.

  • How interesting. Too bad it didn’t turn out as good as it looks.

  • It looks good and the flavors sound wonderful! It’s too bad that it didn’t turn out better.

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