A few weeks ago, when I shared a recipe for fresh peach frozen yogurt, someone asked me a very valid question about whether there was a way to make frozen yogurt or ice cream without using an ice cream maker. Sadly, I did not know of a way, but the question got me thinking about whether or not it was possible to make creamy, homemade ice cream by just mixing things together, saying a small prayer to the ice cream gods, then plopping everything into the freezer. As it turns out, there is. Unbeknownst to me, people all around the world have been making simple freezer ice creams for decades, and, curiously, all of the recipes for those ice creams, whether they hail from the Southern United States or Southeast Asia, all contain one common ingredient: sweetened condensed milk. Now, I happen to be genetically linked to Southeast Asia, and my husband’s family hails from the South, but it had never occurred to me to use sweetened condensed milk in, well, anything. I wasn’t even sure what it was, to be honest.
Sweetened condensed milk, I have found, is sweetened milk, from which the water has been removed. It is not to be confused with evaporated milk, which is a different product all together, though, as you will soon see, one with which I have also recently become acquainted. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be sitting here telling you about a recipe that contains two processed milk items that hail from sealed cans, but sometimes life takes a funny turn. And then you find yourself sitting around eating the best mango ice cream you’ve ever had, wondering what took you so long to discover such a fantastic recipe. With just mangoes, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and a bit of heavy cream to make things just that much more decadent, you, too, can create this wonderful ice cream in your very own kitchen, no ice cream maker required.
Mango Ice Cream
Heavily adapted from Mangoes and Curry Leaves, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
24 ounces of mango chunks (you can use frozen mango chunks, as I did, or you can get this amount of mango flesh from anywhere from 4-8 mangoes, depending on the size and ripeness of the mangoes you use—yes, it really can vary that much)
1 ¼ cups sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups evaporated milk
½ cup heavy cream
juice of ½ a lime
pinch of salt
In the bowl of a food processor or large blender, puree mango chunks until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream, and blend until combined. Add lime juice and salt, and blend once more.
Now, you have three different options at this point. You can either pour the mixture into a large freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, you can freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, or you can pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until completely firm (warning: this amount of ice cream mixture will make a huge number of popsicles—we’re talking more than a dozen).
The ice cream will be done freezing when it is firm, but it will remain a bit grainy when frozen solid. If you allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature for just a bit before scooping it, you will be rewarded handsomely with the creamiest ice cream you’ve ever produced in the comfort of your own home.
Makes around 6 cups of ice cream.