We believe in maintaining a healthy attitude about occasional splurges, but the fact is a scoop from a traditional recipe made with cream, eggs, and sugar yields 300 calories, with loads of saturated fat. If there's a way to get ice-cream pleasure with less of all that, bring it on.
The quest to lighten can start—as many light ice-cream recipes do—by swapping out heavy cream in favor of reduced-fat milk. That churns up a tasty dessert, but it's also an icy one—a milk ice, basically—thanks to the higher water content in reduced-fat dairy. Our trick: Trade the heavy cream for evaporated low-fat milk, which has 60% less water than regular milk. When combined with half-and-half, sugar, and the essential egg yolks, the canned milk fosters a rich custard that stays creamy instead of icy. A touch of light-colored corn syrup adds a velvety-smooth mouthfeel, and a real vanilla bean is worth the splurge for its vibrant flavor. This smarter scoop has almost half the calories, a fraction of the fat, and the lion's share of the texture and taste of full-fat ice cream.