Friday, February 08, 2008

Ice Cream

Ice cream or ice-cream (originally iced cream) is a freezing dessert made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, combined with flavorings and sweeteners, such as sugar. This mixture is stirred slowly while cooling to prevent large ice crystals from forming, which results in a slickly textured ice cream. Similar frozen desserts have been developed substituting non-dairy ingredients (soy cream, soy milk, rice milk) for the milk and cream. Although the term "ice cream" is sometimes used to mean frozen desserts and snacks in general, it is usually lawfully reserved for frozen desserts and snacks made with a high percentage of milk fat. Frozen custard, frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, and other similar products are sometimes informally called ice cream, but governments generally regulate the viable use of these terms based on quantities of ingredients. Ice cream is generally served as a chilled product. It may also be found in dishes where the coldness of the ice cream is used as a temperature contrast, for example, as a topping on warm desserts, or even in fried ice cream. Some commercial institutions such as creameries concentrate in serving ice cream and products that are related.

These ingredients, along with air incorporated during the stirring process (technically called overrun), make up ice cream. Generally, less costly ice creams contain lower-quality ingredients (for example, natural vanilla may be replaced by artificial vanillin), and more air is incorporated, sometimes as much as 50% of the final volume. Artisan-produced ice creams often contain very little air, although some is necessary to produce the feature creamy quality of the product. Generally speaking, the finest ice creams have between 3% and 15% air. Because most ice cream is sold by volume, it is efficiently advantageous for producers to reduce the density of the product in order to cut costs. Ice cream can also be hand-packed and sold by weight. The use of stabilizers rather than cream and the incorporation of air also decrease the fat and energy content of less expensive ice creams, making them more appealing to those on diets.

Ice cream comes in a wide variety of flavors, often with additives such as chocolate flakes or chips, ribbons of sauce such as caramel or chocolate, nuts, fruit, and small candies/sweets. Some of the most popular ice cream flavors are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and Neapolitan (a combination of the three). Many people also enjoy ice cream sundaes, which often have ice cream, hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, maraschino cherries or a variety of other toppings. Other toppings include cookie crumbs, butterscotch, sprinkles, banana sauce, marshmallows or different varieties of chocolate.


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