ice cream custard is too thick -- should I thin it out before churning?

My ice cream case is chilling in the fridge, and I believe it is thicker than it should be (see explanatory events below). Does anyone know -- if you freeze "too thick" custard, what will the final product be like? Should I try to thin it out by pouring in extra liquid (like a little more cream or whole milk) before churning it? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

What happened: I made an ice cream base using Jeni Britton's recipe, which calls for thickening the cream/milk/sugar mixture with a bit of corn starch. I've made this recipe at least a dozen times, but today I messed up and added the corn starch before my milk/cream mixture was ready. The corn starch clumped and did not dissolve, so the base didn't properly thicken. I tried to save it by straining out the clumps, reheating the mixture and whisking in a small amount of additional amount of corn starch. It thickened... but too much, I think, based on what the custard looks like when I normally make it.

[The original recipe can be found here -- http://www.foodandwine...
Despite my problems today, it really is a great recipe. The end product has fantastic, creamy texture and the flavor of the vanilla and cream really shine. And you don't have to worry about what to do with 3 egg whites afterwards.]



Trina M. October 25, 2017
My thick/solid custard came out of the pot nice and smooth but out of the fridge almost all solid (12 hours later?). I mixed it a little so it flowed into the ice cream maker (but couldn't wait too long otherwise it would get warm). I didn't know how much cream to add, so I continued to churn as suggested. Unfortunately for me, my paddle stopped. Was it the custard or something else? The base was in the freezer for almost 2 days. Admittedly, the maker is a little cheap, but not too bad. The custard is in the freezer now and I'm trying to do it by hand, although it really is stiff. How could I have fixed that?
Pete J. April 15, 2017
I came to this article because I am midway through making a batch of maple syrup ice cream and had the same "too thick" impressing. The recipe is a traditional custard base and after being left in the fridge to cool for a few hours it was close to solid. I decided to stir it in order to help it pour into my kitchen aid bowl. It basically had a very thick skin on the top (about half the depth of the custard) so with a quick stir it seems fine (in the machine as I type)
halfasiangirl August 26, 2011
Update: I churned the "too thick" base without adding extra cream, and all was fine. It was creamy and smooth. Thanks for all the input; it really was helpful!
halfasiangirl August 25, 2011
Thanks so much, everyone. After reading your suggestions, I decided I will churn it without trying to thin it out. Hopefully, as wssmom says, it will process quickly, and like DrBabs and Esther Plume suggest, it will be thick and creamy. The idea of adding cream to thin it out, a la Chef June's idea, was tempting ... but this way, if the end product is off, I can be reasonably certain the corn starch was the issue.

I will be sure to report back after I churn it this evening. It is supposed to accompany my husband's sour cherry pie at a dinner party we're having tonight, but if it doesn't work out, the pie will be unadorned :) My fingers are crossed.
wssmom August 25, 2011
I've had some ice cream cases turn out quite thick, and in my limited experience they just process really quickly ....
ChefJune August 25, 2011
I've never used cornstarch in any of my ice creams, so I can't advise on that, but after I've refrigerated my custard, it is very thick. My formula calls for adding the heavy cream to that very thick custard just before churning, so it does get thinned out. I might add a bit of cream to see where that takes you.

Please be sure to let us know how it turns out!
drbabs August 25, 2011
I make a chocolate ice cream that uses cornstarch as the thickener and has both cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate in the base. After refrigeration, it is quite thick--almost like a ganache. It processes in the ice cream machine beautifully and makes a thick, rich soft ice cream. I think if you try it, you'll be happy with the result...please let us know.
Esther P. August 25, 2011
How thick is it? Are you worried that the paddle might not manage to churn it? If it was me, and if it's not for guests, then I'd probably run with it as it is- mainly to find out.... You never know, you ay find it even creamier in texture than normal, and decide that actually you haven't been putting enough cornflour in usually! Even if it's a disaster, I'm pretty sure it'll still be a tasty disaster, and you'll know how temperamental the recipe is.... I think it'll be fine so long as the paddles can churn though. If it really is too thick, then you could let i down a bit wth something, but you might have to work hard to reincorporate extra liquid if ts too thick, and you might be back to a lumpy mess.... Let us know what you decide and what happens!
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