A scientific approach to ice cream

Sally Sampson has written numerous cookbooks, but she was never as popular with friends and neighbors as when she began writing about ice cream.

When Sampson began creating recipes for Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream (Wiley, $16.95), she went about it from a scientific angle. She played around with temperature and quantity of sugar, fruit and the proportion of cream to milk.

And because Sampson wanted feedback about the taste and texture, she was generous with her creations and found many willing taste-testers.

”I didn't want a freezer overflowing with more and more ice cream,“ she said. ”Additionally, homemade ice cream is really at its peak when it's just been made (or within a few hours). After a day, the texture loses its vibrancy.“

The recipes she created ended up being lower in sugar, higher in flavor and lower in fat than most commercial ice creams.

”When you make ice cream with too much heavy cream or too many eggs, you coat your taste buds and as a result, dull them,“ she said.

Sampson has 52 recipes in her book for year-round frozen treats, including a variety of ice cream, gelato, sorbet and granita. Here are three recipes from the book.

Banana ice cream with burnt caramel sauce

3 cups half-and-half

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch kosher salt

3 overripe bananas, puréed

2 teaspoons rum or fresh lemon juice

For the burnt caramel sauce:

¾ cup white sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

To make the ice cream: Place the half-and-half in a small pan and cook over low heat, whisking from time to time, until it is warm, about 175 degrees.

Place the egg yolks, brown sugar and salt in a small metal bowl and whisk until completely mixed. Add ¼ cup of the warm half-and-half mixture to the eggs, whisking all the while. Continue adding half-and-half to the eggs, ¼ cup at a time, until you have added about 1½ cups. Slowly, whisking all the while, return the now half-and-half and egg mixture to the remaining half-and-half mixture in the pan and continue cooking until it just begins to thicken or reaches bout 185 degrees. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Pour through a medium fine strainer into a metal bowl, discard the solids and set aside until it reaches room temperature. Add the bananas and rum, and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until it reaches 40 degrees, about 3 hours. Transfer to an ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

To make the burnt caramel sauce: Place the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Continue boiling, without stirring, until it begins to color on the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cook, whisking all the while, until it turns a deep brown and just begins to smell burnt, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly and very carefully add the cream, continuing to whisk, until it is completely incorporated. Off heat, add the vanilla and salt. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Makes 11/2 to 2 pints.

Orange granita

4 cups fresh orange juice

1 cup white sugar

Place the juice and sugar in a shallow pan and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to the freezer. Using a fork, stir every 15 minutes until ­frozen, about 2 hours. Makes 1½ to 2 pints.

Coconut apricot sorbet

½ cup white sugar

½ cup boiling water

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups unsweetened apricot juice

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Place the sugar and boiling water in a medium bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the coconut milk and apricot juice and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until it reaches 40 degrees, about 3 hours. Add the coconut and stir well. Transfer to an ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Makes 1½ to 2 pints.