Hello everyone! In preparation for summer I thought it appropriate to put together this DIY ice cream cold plate project which turned out surprisingly easy and effective. The whole process is demonstrated in the embedded video above, and a written description will follow. If the embedded video does not work for you on mobile here is a direct link to the video on YouTube.
An ice cream cold plate is used to rapidly freeze and mix ice cream moments before it's served. It's a great method for making custom flavors on the fly as the ice cream can be made in individual portions then immediately scraped clean to start again.
First things first, here's a list of all the items used.
- 2 Towels
- Large Baking Pan
- Frying Pan (I used cast iron but any variety will work)
- 3-5 lbs. of Dry Ice
- Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol
Ice Cream Recipe:
- Heavy Cream
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Strawberries (Or whatever else you would like to add for flavor)
- 2 Spatulas
- Mixing Bowl
Step 1: Preparing the Cold Plate
The first step in assembling the cold plate is to place a towel below a large baking pan to insulate it from the table. This will serve to both protect the table from the extreme cold and will also increase the efficiency of the cold plate.
A block of dry ice is then placed in the center of the pan, approximately 3-5 lbs should be adequate. A second towel now covers the block of ice and should be tucked into the baking pan to keep the block centered. This further improves efficiency by insulating the sides of the dry ice and will prevent the cold plate's surface from sliding around when the ice cream is being made. The towel I'm using to cover the block in the above images is perhaps a bit excessive, a small hand towel one or two layers thick over the block should be fine.
To increase the rate at which the dry ice is able to cool the surface of the cold plate the section of the towel directly on top of the dry ice is wet with some high proof vodka (100 proof or better) or rubbing alcohol. Alcohol of one kind or another must be used for this step as water would freeze and reduce the effectiveness. If rubbing alcohol is used care should be taken to avoid getting it into the ice cream as it is non edible.
The final step is to set the frying pan on top of the now moistened towel. It should begin cooling off quickly but in the meantime it's a good time to stop and make the ice cream mix.
Step 2: Making the Ice Cream Mix
For the sake of simplicity I've chosen an incredibly basic ice cream recipe to demonstrate with this project. If you have a favorite recipe of your own I'm sure it will work fine, as well as any other ice cream mix you might find through an online search. Despite it's simplicity I found the following recipe to be surprisingly delicious.
- 50% Heavy Cream
- 50% Sweetened Condensed Milk
Like I said, simple. After mixing thoroughly with a fork the result is a slightly sweetened cream that makes an excellent base to add berries or chocolate to for any flavor of ice cream you'd like. When using it with a cold plate you'll be able to make ice cream more rapidly if the ingredients are chilled prior to use so I recommend throwing it in the refrigerator for a few minutes after mixing.
Step 3: Using the Cold Plate
With the ice cream mix made a small portion is poured onto the now frosty cold plate and flavorings can be added. Here I'm using a few strawberries which can be chopped up with a pair of spatulas as the ice cream cools. It may take a few minutes for the ice cream to reach the desired consistency if the ingredients were not refrigerated before use. It's a battle between the plate trying to chill the ice cream and the air warming it up, so if you're trying this in direct sun on a 120 degree day it might work faster if you can find some shade. The dry ice should have no trouble winning in the end.
Once the ice cream has thickened enough for your liking it's ready to serve! It stores well in a freezer so I recommend making a lot of it and saving some for later. If the cold plate has been well insulated one block of dry ice should last for several hours.
I hope you enjoy this project! Thanks for reading!