Cooking with Bwog: Basics of an Ice Cream Sundae

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He's the president, and they give him the fun size cone?

Before running off to get your pumpkin spice latte, consider a chilled treat. This week we want you to put on your summer specs and dial up that radiator for a last toast to summer. In our latest Cooking with Bwog your not-quite-vanilla chef Matt Powell whips together a sensational delight.

This week, we will conquer the basics of a custard base, a simple sorbet, and a caramel sauce to go on top. If you would like to find more toppings, check out last week’s post on fresh whipped cream and chocolate ganache sauce.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream

(Yields 1 quart)

  • 2 C whole milk
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 5-6 egg yolks (save the whites for some meringues from last week)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (fresh vanilla pods would be preferable, but this is easier and more cost-efficient.)


  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and 2 tbsp. of the sugar. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is hot to touch but not boiling. Turn off the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and the remaining sugar until the color lightens, about 1-2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about half of the hot liquid into the egg mixture. Place the saucepan back on the stove, and slowly whisk the egg-liquid mixture into the saucepan. (This step is more commonly known as “tempering.” It is a back-and-forth process of adding hot liquid slowly to eggs, therefore bringing the temperature of the eggs up without scrambling them. If you are not careful, you will have scrambled eggs and the custard will be wrecked. If you have trouble pouring while whisking, ask a friend for help.)
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly (but not rapidly) with a wooden spoon. The custard will begin to cook and thicken. Once the mixture is able to coat the back of the wooden spoon without running off too quickly, it is ready. (Careful not to overcook!) Immediately pour into a large metal bowl, preferably a bowl that is set in an ice bath. Add in the vanilla extract and stir the custard until cool. Place in the fridge to chill completely, about 2-3 hours.
  4. Process the custard base in an ice cream machine or using a low-tech alternative.

Chocolate Sorbet

This recipe is easier than the Vanilla Ice Cream due to the fact that you don’t have to temper the eggs. Unlike ice creams, sorbets are more water-based and, at times, completely water-based. They’re also usually easier to cook.

(Yields 1 quart)

  • 2-1/4 C water
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably not Dutch process
  • A pinch of salt
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/5 tsp. vanilla


  1. In a large heavy saucepan, combine 1-3/4 C water, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Heat over medium heat, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute.
  2. Place the bittersweet in a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Pour the hot liquid over the chopped chocolate and whisk together until completely smooth and melted. Stir in remaining water and the extract. Chill in the fridge 2-3 hours.
  3. Process in an ice cream machine.

Caramel Sauce

You already have the recipes for chocolate ganache and whipped cream, but why stop there? A word of caution, though: Caramel is one of the hottest things you can cook. Don’t even think of touching the sugar when it’s cooking.


  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 tbsp. corn syrup
  • 3/4 C whipped cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup with 3 tbsp. of water. Whisk together over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Once sugar dissolves, stop whisking. Allow the mixture to cook, swirling the pan occasionally. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the liquid turns an amber color.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream and extract. The liquid will bubbly and steam vigorously, but just keep going, whisking all the while. Once you have whisked in all the cream, return to the heat and whisk until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.
  3. Allow the sauce to cool and use on top of desserts or store for the future. Rewarm over medium-low heat before using.

Ice cream socialism via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Not everyone

    has an ice cream maker.

    • Yeah but....

      You can take two empty coffee cans (one bigger than the other), fill the small one with the custard mixture, put it in the bigger can, fill with ice and add salt (to the ice), and roll the coffee can back and forth on the ground for a while. I used to do it when I was a kid and the ice cream turns out pretty well.

    • Anonymous  

      That's what frustrates me about Bwog cooking. I'm definitely not a cooking expert and there are times when they'll put up some ridiculous things that normal college students don't have. I wish it would appeal to the least common denominator.

    • Anonymous  

      yo haters, check the link. the writer offers an alternative to an ice cream maker (6 ways actually, if you click the link).

      think big!

  2. there's this  

    cool concept called understanding your audience. the author of this post clearly doesn't.

    • Get over it people  

      I'm betting this cooking with bwog post is not the only bwog post ever that doesn't relate to you specifically. It is completely impossible to have every post serve every Columbia affiliate, and if you don't like it just don't read it. Matt is a great guy and I know lots of fellow Columbia students who would enjoy reading this post and put his advice into action.

      • CC senior

        point well taken, and what we may think of matt is totally irrelevant. but... he does seem to exist in some sort of alternate universe where the prime concern is how much butter, sugar and cream can be consumed in the shortest amount of time. kind of irresponsible i would say, particularly given the global obesity crisis and the already sub-standard diet of many people on campus.

        • Anonymous

          We call that the Paula Deen Universe.

        • Moderation  

          Just because he wrote a post about making ice cream doesn't mean he eats food high in butter, sugar and cream all the time and thinks everyone else should too. Those who truly enjoy food tend to eat healthier, actually, because they know how delicious just vegetables can be with the right accoutrements and a tiny bit of olive oil. And a serving of homemade ice cream every once in a while isn't a bad thing at all if you aren't eating it (or french fries, or cupcakes, or hot dogs or whatever) every single day.

  3. Anonymous

    Plenty of people have ice cream makers, especially if they enjoy baking. I have one and so do many of my friends. They're fun and not expensive.

  4. Spell Czech

    Pretty sure you spell Sundae with a "y" at the end. And you call yourselves the Ivy League lol

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