Rich, creamy cheesecake in ice cream form with bits of graham crackers and swirls of fruit. This cheesecake ice cream is a favorite for dessert lovers everywhere.
Why you'll love it
I've had cheesecake ice creams before and none of them taste the way I felt it should. They were more like regular vanilla ice cream with just chunks of cheesecake here and there. This... this is all out cheesecake flavor that you can do up properly by adding your favorite fruits.
What makes this recipe particularly good is that cream cheese plays a huge part in the ice cream not just for the delicious cheesecake flavor, but also helps create a velvety, rich mouthfeel that has you coming back for more. It keeps the base nice and thick, and it also is able to hold in any flavors you want to add to your ice cream base.
This also means it is easier to churn in a lot of ways, especially if you don't have an ice cream maker. If you don't have one, you need to check out my guide on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker here.
If you are familiar with making a Philadelphia-style ice cream, the ingredients for this recipe will seem very familiar to you. If not, these are the key ingredients you need to review before getting started.
- Cream cheese - Only use full-fat cream cheese in block form. Anything else will alter the texture of the final product and will not give you the right consistency needed for a delicious cone.
- Heavy cream - Heavy cream is very important to get the right mouthfeel for your base. It sometimes goes by whipping cream. Double cream is also good, but try to stay away from light cream.
- Milk - Whole milk is the best type to use in this recipe. Dairy alternatives will not work, nor will skim or 1%. You may be able to use 2% milk if it is all you have.
- Sugar - Granulated sugar is the best for this recipe, but if you want to add more depth and complexity, especially if you are adding something like caramel sauce to your ice cream, brown sugar may be used.
- Add-ins - You can cook down fruits with sugar to create a fruit swirl to add into the ice cream for a full cheesecake experience. I used blueberries initially, but any fruit would work. You can also use chocolate sauce, salted caramel, or even peanut butter hot fudge sauce. This is the time to get creative!
How to make
- Beat cream cheese in bowl until smooth.
- Add the cream, milk, sugar, and lemon zest together in a saucepan and heat until simmering.
- Temper the eggs with some of the hot liquid, then transfer the eggs into the saucepan.
- Heat until the mixture is thickened and then strain into the bowl with the cream cheese.
- Whisk until the mixture is smooth and transfer to a to the refrigerator to cool completely.
- Prepare your add-ons and then churn the chilled ice cream base according to the manufacturer instructions.
- Add the ice cream to your airtight ice cream container and layer with the add-ons.
The science behind ice cream
There is a reason we use full-fat and high-fat ingredients when making ice cream, especially a cheesecake ice cream. There is also a very good reason why you need to chill your ice cream base before churning and then freezing it immediately. It all comes down to getting the right texture. You need an ice cream that won't melt too fast or feel too icy on the tongue. It also needs to be something that can retain and enhance the flavors you add because your tongue doesn't perceive sweetness or flavors as well when the item you are eating (ice cream for instance) is cold.
There are three main things to consider when you are making ice cream:
Fat plays many roles in ice cream. First, it enhances the flavors of every other ingredient you add to your base. It allows the ice cream to fully coat your tongue and give an indulgently smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Second, it helps enhance the melting factor of ice cream by slowing down the rate in which the ice cream melts which means you can enjoy your scoop slowly. Fat also helps to prevent ice crystals from forming in your ice cream. Because it also acts as an emulsifier, it helps blend all the ingredients together to create a consistent, stable batch of ice cream. Since fat prevents your base from getting too icy, it also helps to make everything more scoopable.
Sugar plays a crucial role in ice cream not only for its sweetness but also for its impact on texture, freezing point depression (the point in which an item freezes completely), and overall mouthfeel. It helps create a smooth and creamy texture by interfering with the formation of ice crystals, resulting in a softer consistency. Sugar also lowers the freezing point of the mixture, preventing it from becoming too hard and icy when frozen.
Overrun, the incorporation of air into ice cream, is critical in ice cream making because it is one of the final components that affect the final texture, quality, and even flavor of ice cream. Small air bubbles in ice cream keeps it smooth, consistent, and light in the mouth. As ice cream melts in your mouth, the air bubbles burst as release the flavor compounds for a more profound tasting experience. It enhances the sweetness of the ice cream even without adding more sugar to the recipe, this is particularly important since the cold inhibits your tastebuds from fully perceiving sweetness.
Cheesecake Ice Cream with Blueberry Swirl
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream room temperature
- 1 ½ cups milk room temperature
- ¾ cups plus ½ cups sugar, divided
- zest of half a lemon
- 3 large egg yolks room temperature
- juice from half a lemon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ cup crushed graham crackers optional
- Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl, set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add the cream, milk, ¾ cups sugar, and lemon zest together. Heat on medium until the cream mixture is steaming and simmering at the edges.
- In a medium bowl, briskly whisk the egg yolks, and slowly pour 1 cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks, ensuring you are whisking the eggs constantly as you pour in the cream. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, while whisking the saucepan constantly as you poured the egg mixture in.
- Continue to heat and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon the mixture until it thickens. You can test this by running your finger down your spoon to see if a line remains.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the cream cheese. Whisk the mixture until there are no lumps (you can use an immersion blender to speed things up) and chill until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F - at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- While the ice cream mixture is chilling, heat the remaining ½ cup sugar and blueberries together in a small saucepan until the juices escape the blueberries and begins to resemble syrup and allow the mixture to chill.
- Take out the chilled ice cream mixture and pour in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer instructions.
- Begin to pour the ice cream in an air tight container, Drizzling the blueberry sauce (and graham cracker crumbs if using) between layers of the ice cream. Allow the ice cream to freeze for about 3 - 4 hours until firm.