How To Make Fake Ice Cream For Photography
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Find out how to make fake, edible ice cream that won't melt and last for hours!
Using fake ice cream is a great way to photograph ice cream without all the mess and time restrictions. We tried out this commonly used method that we're sharing here and loved the results. Oh, did I mention it's edible, too?
I'll start off with a disclaimer: if you're photographing an actual brand's food product you should always use the real thing. However, using fake ice cream would be an option if you were selling, say, a chocolate syrup, or in this case just using it as a prop.
For this portrait we wanted to shoot a tall ice cream to match the tall wig. Ice cream melts, obviously, which means you have to work fast. But we wanted to be able to take our time, have fun with it, and get a range of different expressions to pick from. So using real ice cream would have created a lot of unnecessary stress.
(A quick side note - below is a short reel from our Instagram where you can see the footage
of us making the "ice cream" that you see in the final picture.)
400g pre-made frosting (I haven't tried homemade but I would assume it would work too)
400g icing or powdered sugar
Food colouring of your choice (optional)
Extra flavouring or toppings - we used sprinkles (these are optional - but does add an extra element to make it feel more realistic)
Ice cream cones
Wood or PVA glue for drips
*These quantities made about 10 scoops.
What you will need
A food processor (you could use a spoon and some elbow grease to mix the ingredients, but a processor gets the best results).
Ice cream scoop
Tweezers (optional - for applying toppings)
Put all the pre-made frosting into your processor. Pulse a few times until you get a creamy texture.
If you're adding food colouring, add it into the food processor a drop or two at a time and pulse until the desired colour is achieved.
Slowly add the icing in. We found equal parts (400g) worked for us but you might need to add more or less depending on the frosting you buy. Keep adding the icing sugar until the "ice cream" starts to bark (we show this in the video above); it's the rough, cracked texture that ice cream gets when it's scooped. The barking is what gives it its realistic look.
If you're planning on adding any extra ingredients (sprinkles, nuts, whatever) to the ice cream, put the ice cream mix into a ziplock bag, add your extras and massage it in until they're evenly spread throughout the mixture.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out a portion of the mixture and release it onto a baking sheet. We did this so we could choose which scoops we liked the best, and which looked most realistic, before putting them into cones.
If you want to add toppings, carefully place them on with tweezers.
If you want to add any drips to your ice cream, stir a little wood glue into the "ice cream" mixture until the proper colour is achieved. Drip onto the ice cream and cone as late as possible before shooting.
Notes on styling: This fake ice cream is heavier than the real deal, so it might need some extra support. We wanted our scoops to be misaligned and leaning impossibly, which meant the ice cream was badly out of balance and the scoops kept wanting to slide off. To stop them from falling off, we put a small piece of foam into the bottom of the cone, and stuck a bamboo skewer into the foam (the bamboo skewer went the full length of the cone for maximum support). Then we slid the four ice cream scoops onto the skewer.
This fake ice cream will harden fairly quickly, so once you've made the mixture we recommend making your scoops straight away.
What does it taste like? Sugar, just, sugar
We post blogs weekly so if you would like to know when the next blog is out follow us on Instagram @threebentlegs
If you make this 'recipe' I would love to see your results - tag us @threebentlegs - enjoy the sugar rush.