Egg and Not Egg

Ice creams in America come in two general types, so-called “Philadelphia Style” and French. Anyone who knows French cuisine will not be surprised to learn that Philadelpia style is the simpler of the two. This week’s recipe is just such an animal, being composed of pretty much just milk, cream, sugar, and a few added flavorings.

French-style ice creams are a bit more complicated. They are custards, very thin ones, nearly identical to the dessert sauce known as crème Anglaise. In fact many dessert makers, though I don’t personally know any of them, will melt down ice cream and serve it in place of crème Anglaise when pressed for time. It’s an unscrupulous practice that I would be shocked, shocked to discover happening in my home.

What’s the difference between French and Philadelphia-style ice cream? The primary difference is of course that French ice creams contain eggs, and eggs do several things. First, they add fat, which gives the ice cream a richer taste. Next, since they must first be heated together with the milk and/or cream before the ice cream is frozen, they add a cooked, eggy flavor.

But perhaps most importantly, and this gets us back to Monday’s main post, they act as emulsifying agents. That is, their LDL’s and HDL’s disperse through the matrix, preventing fat droplets from coming together, ice crystals from forming, and generally keeping the mix smooth and even. The result can be a creamier tasting product. I say can because so much depends on how the mixture is frozen. More on that this afternoon.

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