A person can make ice cream out of a variety of ingredients, including a custard or cream base, flavorings, and sometimes solids such as chocolate chips. Ingredients typically used for the base include sugar, cream, milk, and eggs, though individual recipes vary. Flavorings and solids often include extracts, flavored oils, candy, nuts, or fruits. One may, however, add any topping or flavorings he finds desirable. Those who do not consume dairy or eggs can still enjoy ice cream, as the base can be prepared with almond or soy milk, tofu, and fruit.
The most important of the ice cream ingredients is the base, which a person can prepare with or without an ice cream maker. The ice cream ingredients most often used to make a base are typically eggs, sugar, milk, and cream. Sugar and cream or milk can be mixed together to create a cream base, but some people prefer to heat these ice cream ingredients along with eggs, forming a creamy, custard base instead. To make light or low-fat ice cream, one can use a low- or non-fat milk or cream in the base. After the base is prepared, a person can then add the flavorings and solid ingredients he desires.
Flavorings are essential to ice cream, and there are many different ways to flavor it. Almost anything can be used to add appeal to a simple ice cream base. Fresh fruits, marshmallows, crumbled cookies, crushed candies, nuts, and chocolate chips are easily mixed into an ice cream base to make a customized treat. One can also use vanilla beans, cocoa powder, spices, and a variety of herbs to add interesting flavors — extracts and liqueurs, such as citrus, peppermint, cinnamon, coconut, and vanilla, provide additional easy ways to flavor one's ice cream. In fact, a person can even add green tea to his ice cream mixture for a unique flavor.
There are also alternatives to the typical dairy- and egg-based ice cream for those who do not consume certain animal products, such as vegans or those with lactose intolerance. A dairy- and egg-free ice cream base can be prepared with soy milk, silken tofu, or almond milk instead of cow's milk. The ingredients in each dairy- and egg-free ice cream recipe vary, however. Eggs can be left out of the recipe, as if one was preparing a cream base. After the base is prepared with alternatives to dairy products, one can add other ice cream ingredients that are not made from eggs or dairy products.