How to Make It
Balancing Flavor and Texture
The biggest issue for Yakult ice cream is: how do you guarantee a strong Yakult flavor, while still having a creamy texture?
First, reduce the Yakult.
From my experiments, it’s almost impossible to add enough Yakult straight from the bottle to get the right flavor without making the final ice cream icy. Therefore, concentrating it over the stove to get rid of some of the water allows you to add more Yakult flavor, without adding too much liquid.
Okay, then how do you add back the fat that disappears when you use Yakult instead of whole milk? Increase the number of egg yolks.
One egg yolk has 5 grams of fat, so adding 2 extra egg yolks gets the fat level up again without adding more watery liquid. My go-to ice cream (check out this hojicha ice cream, or this milk tea ice cream topped with boba!) uses 4 yolks, bringing the yolk count for this specific recipe up to 6.
You might be concerned about the ice cream tasting egg-y and not like your beloved Yakult. No worries though, as the Yakult is flavorful enough to make the impact of the extra egg yolks more noticeable in the texture than the taste.
The last bit of insurance for a creamy ice cream is a touch of alcohol. Alcohol has such a high freezing point (80 proof vodka freezes at -16.5F) that a tiny bit prevents the ice cream from freezing solid.
I’m sure someone is like is this a sign I should be making boozy ice cream?! Let me dash those dreams real quick - too much alcohol and your ice cream won’t solidify past a soup.
Luckily, this recipe isn’t too difficult, even if there are few different steps before you get to have a golden gallon of goodness. (Okay, this makes 6 ½ pints less than a gallon, but alliteration!!).
The part you need to be most present for is cooking down the Yakult. It takes a bit of time and hovering to reduce the Yakult from 1 ½ cups to 1 cup.
In order to minimize the time you have to scrub a burnt pot later on (there’s a fair amount of sugar in Yakult), it’s important to stir the liquid every few minutes. It’s okay if the pot scorches a bit (especially where the Yakult splashes up and there’s only a thin layer on the hot metal), since you’ll strain out any weirdness later.
Once the Yakult has reduced down (I have a hard time eyeballing this, soI like to check occasionally by pouring it into a glass measuring cup), you can add the heavy cream, sugar and salt.
A little of this warm dairy mixture gets added to the egg yolks at a time. Only a tiny bit, while you’re stirring constantly, since you don’t want the eggs to freak out and turn chewy.
Once you have added about a third of the dairy to the egg yolks, add the warmed egg yolks into the pot with the rest of the dairy.
The custard goes back on the stove, while you continue to hover and stir like this ice cream base has given you trust issues. Once it’s slightly thicker, take it off the heat and let it cool slightly.
There’s no need to cook this mixture until it’s super thick, since it will set a little more once it cools overnight.
This ice cream base also solidifies more than typical custards with whole milk, and I think it’s due to the Yakult. However, long ago thoughts of obtaining a food science degree never came to fruition, so don’t quote me on that.
If you have some homemade ice cream experience on your resume, remain calm if the base seems really thick. Chances are, you didn’t over cook the base, just blame it on the Yakult.
I’m not always the best at doing this, meaning this is a do as I say and not as I sometimes do situation. For this ice cream, it’s necessary to strain the base before you refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.
No one ever wants scrambled eggs in their ice cream, and especially not any burnt Yakult residue.
In the alcohol goes, then this base gets chilled until cold.
When your custard is cold, you can pour it into an ice cream machine and let it run. This step whips air into the ice cream and prevents it from freezing into a solid, chalky block.
Right after churning, the ice cream is pretty soft (softer than soft serve), and it needs to freeze again before serving. Your patience will be rewarded!
Since the Yakult has some sugar, you can definitely decrease the amount in the base if you tend to like barely sweetened ice cream.
I would typically be part of the less sweet please club, but considering that this ice cream is frozen and the Yakult is tangy, I’m fine keeping the sugar somewhat high.
The idea of ice cream being frozen might sound like a duh statement, so let me explain. Foods at warm or room temperature tend to taste more strongly, because our tastebuds are more sensitive to warm food than cold food.
You can definitely omit the alcohol if you’d like to. The flavor won’t be impacted, though you may notice the ice cream is a little more on the icy side.
If you forgo adding alcohol, you might need to let the ice cream sit out for a few minutes at room temperature to make scooping easier.
Say you know you do want to add alcohol – you can try playing around with the kind of alcohol you use. I like using a clear, neutral alcohol in ice cream to make sure it doesn’t distract you from the star flavor.
Alternatively, a complementary flavor would be delicious. Maybe something citrusy to go with the tangy yogurt flavor, like the Grand Marnier in this earl grey ice cream?
- 1 ½ cups Yakult
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon vodka
In a medium pot over medium heat, add the Yakult. Simmer the Yakult until it reduces enough that it measures 1 cup (you can check by transferring to a heatproof liquid measuring cup), scraping the pot occasionally to limit the Yakult from burning (but no worries if it burns a little, since they will be strained out). It should take about 20-25 minutes.
Once the Yakult has reduced, add the cream, sugar and salt. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks until they're broken up.
Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot mixture into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return the pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or spatula.
Cool the custard to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard any scrambled egg or burn bits that get caught in the sieve. Stir in the vodka.
Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. If the custard separates while it’s chilling, mix it back together and it’ll be good as new.
Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions; it'll look like thick whipped cream when it's done. Transfer the ice cream to a container (I like to use a long, shallow container because it helps me get better scoops than a pint container), smooth the top and cover. Freeze until solid.
Don’t worry if the Yakult burns a little bit, since you will strain these bits out later. You might be tempted to skip this straining step, but it is necessary for this recipe.
You can omit the alcohol if you’d like. It’s mostly for texture (and not for flavor), and the ice cream is easy to scoop straight from the freezer, but the ice cream will still be tasty if you decide not to use it.