Ben & Jerry’s vs Häagen Dazs
Not only is today the Chinese New Year; the year of the goat (my sign!), but it’s also National Chocolate Mint Day, and what better way to ring in the new year than with my favorite ice cream flavor: Mint Chocolate Chunk. There isn’t many flavors I don’t like when it comes to ice cream. However, I will take a pass on grapenut (shivers and gag). I started making ice cream about ten years ago after I’d bought an antique ice cream maker from an elderly lady who was selling a basement full of “junk”. The machine was a Sunbeam 4-Quart with a wooden bucket and the first electric model. I loved it!
The ice maker I use now is a cheap Philips with a cold pack that fits to the bottom. It costs about $39.99US and I don’t recommend it if you’re serious about making quality ice cream. One trick I’ll offer up if you do have cheap machine is keep the ice cream maker in the freezer while it’s churning. I’ll eventually upgrade, but for now my Philips gets the job done.
In this post I wanted to take a look at two brands of premium ice cream. Both Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen Dazs are American brands sold throughout the world. When seeking rich high-end comfort ice cream, these are the two brands that come to mind. Personally I favor the fun-loving varieties of Ben & Jerry’s. After all, the company was founded by two Vermont hippies. How could that not be fun to eat? The Scandinavian sounding Häagen Dazs brand brings a bit more sophistication to its flavor without compromising that rich smooth texture. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both, and you won’t catch me complaining while I’m wolfing down a pint of Häagen Dazs. Given the choice though, I’ll take Cherry Garcia over Bananas Foster any day.
Despite my slight bias, I thought it’d be interesting to crack the code on Häagen Dazs mainly because of their simplistic nature in terms of ingredients and production. While most ice creams contain additives and stabilizers, Häagen Dazs prides themselves on just 5 ingredients for their vanilla ice cream. If you check out their website, they list the ingredients: cream, skim milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Seems simple enough. What becomes more difficult is replicating the conditions the ice cream is made. Häagen Dazs is produced and stored at -18°C. Less churning is required and the extremely low temperature is necessary for freezing the high amounts of butterfat and sugar used in the recipe. No worries though. A very close copycat can be achieved as long as you’re patient.
Ben & Jerry’s differs quite a bit in terms of ingredients. They do use stabilizers and other ingredients most people have a hard time pronouncing. With a bit of research, it’s easy to understand the science behind the art form. The use of gums, I think, are beneficial to a products texture. Mind you, some are better than others in respect to health. I don’t use carrageenan gum, but I see no issue with using locust bean gum, guar gum, or xanthan gum. In my copycat recipe I also use maltodextrin, a corn or tapioca product that is considered a sugar, but not sweet. Maltodextrin helps lower the freezing point of the ice cream, making it scoopable without it being too cloyingly sweet. Maltodextrin is inexpensive and can be found in any shop that sells beer and wine making kits. Xanthan gum can be found in health food stores and serves several beneficial properties including a gluten replacement for people with gluten allergies and/or IBS.
For this post I thought I’d share a Mint Chocolate Chunk ice cream using the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Base Clone, as well as the simple, yet rich Chocolate Ice Cream using the Häagen Dazs Ice Cream Base Clone. For the Häagen Dazs, you’ll notice I’ve used 2 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of full fat cream. If you want to make it using the same ingredients as Häagen Dazs, then use 2 cups of coffee cream (18%) and 1 cup of skim milk. You won’t notice much difference in flavor, but you will notice a difference in texture depending on your ice cream maker. And one last thing, Häagen Dazs uses a special cocoa instead of melted semisweet chocolate. I opted for a premium baking chocolate that facilitates a rich smooth texture.
Other than that, you can add whatever flavors and ingredients you want. Just remember to add any solids, such as brownie chunks, near the end of churning and be sure those ingredients are at a near-freezing temperature.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Base Clone
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Base Clone
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Base Clone:
- 2 cups water + 1/4 cup
- 3/4 cup cream (35% fat)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup maltodextrin
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 can (400g) condensed milk
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tsp flavor (choice)
- Food Coloring (optional)
Additional ingredients are up to you, but add them at cold to freezing temperatures.
* For mint chocolate chunk ice cream. Extra ingredients include:
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 8-10 drops of green food coloring
- 100g semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped and kept cold
1. In a medium-large saucepan, heat 2 cups of water and cream to a gentle boil.
2. While the water/cream is heating up, combine egg yolks, ¼ cup of water, sugar, matodextrin, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat rapidly to produce a pale yellow and fluffy mixture.
3. Slowly pour hot water/cream into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour. Pour the thin custard back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat back up to a simmer, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The custard will thicken just a little. Pour through a sieve, into a bowl.
4. Stir in the condensed milk and flavoring (e.g. Vanilla or mint extract, or melted chocolate). Also, add coloring if desired.
5. Next, in a small cup or bowl, measure out the xanthan gum and add oil to dissolve. Pour the xanthan gum/oil into the custard base and whisk well to fully incorporate. After whisking, stir gently with a wooden spoon to disperse any froth or air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and cool until very chilled, about 4 hours.
6. Pour base into ice cream maker and churn until the paddle stops rotating. The ice cream should still be soft enough to fold in any solid ingredients you desire, such as chocolate chunks, brownies, candy or even swirls of fudge, marshmallow, or caramel.
7. Pour ice cream into a chilled container and store in freezer for 4 hours before eating.
Häagen Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream Base Clone
Häagen Dazs Ice Cream Base Clone
Häagen Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream Base Clone:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup cream (35% fat)
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 200g semisweet chocolate
1. In a large pot, heat the milk and cream to just a simmer.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yolks and sugar. Whisk to a pale yellow, fluffy consistency.
3. Heat chopped chocolate in a double boiler until fully melted. Remove from heat.
4. Pour hot cream into the egg mixture while whisking. Pour back into the pot and add the melted chocolate. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. About 10 minutes.
5. Strain through a sieve, into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and completely chill.
6. Pour base into ice cream maker and churn until the paddle stops rotating.* The ice cream should still be soft enough to fold in any solid ingredients you desire, such as chocolate chunks, brownies, candy or even swirls of fudge, marshmallow, or caramel.
*IMPORTANT: Due to the high level of butterfat and sugar in this recipe, churning times may vary depending on the ice cream maker. If the base doesn’t thicken enough within a reasonable time, approx. 60-90min. Remove base from the machine and store in a chilled container in the freezer, stirring it occasionally every couple hours until solid. May take up to 24 hours. Haagen Dazs produces and stores their products at -18°C, colder than other ice creams.
Enjoy National Chocolate Mint Day and let me know what you think of my new theme!