Spot the “Stabilizer”

Can anyone tell me which ingredient in the below recipes qualifies as a “stabilizer”? It is of course the flour, which as the mix cooks will “gelatinize”, i.e. let loose its starch molecules, which will go on to inhibit ice crystal formation. What stops the ice cream from tasting “floury” you might wonder. For one it’s a relatively small amount, but also it’s the cooking, which destroys the “cereal” taste of the flour, just like making a roux.

Am I planning to make this ice cream recipe? Yes and no. I’m going to make a smaller amount, that’s for sure. Then I’m going to eliminate the egg whites since they’re mostly water — and more of that an ice cream doesn’t need. Since I’m going down to just a pint of mix, that would leave me with just one egg yolk. A more standard contemporary French or “custard”-style ice cream recipe, however, calls for four yolks to a pint of dairy, largely for the emulsifiers but also for richness. So here’s what I think I’ll do:

4 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds only

I’m going to follow the basic process, first by scalding the milk and cream with the vanilla seeds (and the shell of the bean) in a saucepan. In the meantime I’ll whisk the yolks and sugar together until they’re pale in color, and when the milk/cream is nearly at the boil I’ll pull out the vanilla bean shell and add the hot milk to the sugar and yolks. Then I’ll strain the whole mixture back into the saucepan and continue to heat the mixture — not boil or even simmer it — until it coats the back of a spoon (about 175 degrees Fahrenheit). Then I’ll cool it, refrigerate it overnight and put it through the ice cream maker.

What about the stabilizer? you might be tempted to ask. Aren’t you going to add any flour? Actually no, since between the fat and the yolks I should have all the molecular detritus I need to keep the ice crystals down. However if I were so inclined, if say I were making a leaner custard or eggless “Philadelphia-style” ice cream, I might add a teaspoon or two of cornstarch.

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