A great textured ice cream that begins with a classic custard base. Add in the flavours of strawberry balsamic and you have a stunning summer treat!
Food Infatuation or Insanity?
I’m sure that the majority of people who don’t blog about food maybe sometimes think us food bloggers are a little cracked. Hey, I’m a food blogger and I’m starting to think that maybe I may be just a bit infatuated with food. Possibly to the point of insanity. To an outsider I must look a bit nuts for sure. Really. To you readers who do ‘get me’ or who get the whole food blogging thing, have you ever wondered whether you’re so crazy about something that you may just lose touch of reality for a moment?
Any Time is a Great Time to Make Ice Cream
For me today that moment occurred around 5:30 pm. About that time when any sane person would be halfway through making dinner, maybe even already done and enjoying a nice glass of wine with the fruits of their labours. It was about that time when I finally hit on a way to use up the 2 lbs of ‘on the fence’ strawberries sitting in my fridge: Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream. Really though, who in their right mind would start making ice cream at 5:30 pm? My answer is who in their right mind wouldn’t!
Craving those Strawberry Balsamic Flavours
Inspiration came from old Google Reader (gosh I’m going to miss it when it’s gone). I plunked ‘strawberry balsamic’ into the search bar and about two minutes later found the drool-worthy photo that I instantly re-blogged (see the preceding post). Even though the photo and post title were drool worthy, there was no accompanying recipe! So, after another search I found one recipe to guide me through roasting the strawberries with sugar and balsamic and also through making a proper custard ice cream base. I could have cut corners a bit and used the vanilla ice cream recipe provided in my Cuisinart manual but I really wanted to have a go at making my own custard.
You Do YOU
The recipe gave me the proportions of strawberry/sugar/balsamic and told me to cook the mixture in a pan. I was already on the crazy train so I ignored this advice and added more balsamic than necessary and started the stove at 350 F. I decided to roast the strawberry mixture for about 20 minutes so that the berries were soft but not entirely dry. After they were done, I pureed about 3/4 of the strawberries and left the rest to add so that we had a chunkier ice cream.
Making Custard Really is No Biggie
I had a lot of fun making the custard for the first time and making sure the egg yolks didn’t solidify. I thought I did a pretty good job but I’m glad that the recipe suggested straining the final custard through a fine mesh. There were a few small chunks of the sort no one likes to find in their ice cream. Due to the excitement of making my first custard, I almost forgot the ice bath.
The recipe makes putting a sheet of cling film onto the surface of the custard sound easy. I’m here to tell you…it’s not. In the end, it didn’t look pretty but it served a purpose.
I left it to cool in the garage for a couple of hours while I made dinner. Yes, I still had to make dinner. Thankfully the family was all in karate tonight and I would have to make late dinner anyway.
All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
Fast Forward three hours and it was time to churn the ice cream. Thankfully these days we have electric churners. I can’t even begin to imagine how much energy it would take to hand churn ice cream. I decided to add about half of the pureed strawberries and half of the strawberry chunks. Hubby tried the concoction and declared that it still had a strong vanilla taste. I added a bit more pureed strawberry and the strawberry flavoured balsamic that was left in the roasting pan…success! My only worry now is how all this extra liquid would affect the creaminess of the ice cream.
Fast forward yet again until the day after…I took the Strawberry Balsamic ice cream out of the freezer and all looked well. It scooped nicely and with a warmed spoon I practiced my first quenelles. They didn’t turn out very nicely but luckily I have a bit more ice cream to practice with. I have to admit that I hurried through taking the photos because I was pretty focused on eating that bowl once photos were done. I am really glad that I took the time to make proper custard because it really made a difference in the smoothness and creaminess of the ice cream.
Process Makes Perfect
The initial flavour that hit me was vanilla, then creamy custard and following that a bit of sweet/sour play from the strawberries and balsamic. I think that roasting the berries instead of cooking them in a stove top pan was a good call. The process definitely decreased the chances of non dairy liquids solidifying in the ice cream. Despite having the perfect texture and strawberry balsamic flavour (you know it’s there to enhance the flavour but it doesn’t overpower it) I would be less heavy handed with the vanilla next time. I always forget how potent my extract is and I just pour without measuring it.
Of course the kids definitely thought I was nuts creating a Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream. I hope that is enough to keep them away from the container in the freezer, but I know the moment they buckle and give it a try they’ll have that container polished off in no time. Good thing I had mine for lunch.
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Other Frozen Treats from Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
- FOR THE STRAWBERRIES
- 2 cups medium diced strawberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
- FOR THE CUSTARD
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups 1% or 2% milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
MethodFOR THE STRAWBERRIES
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Mix strawberries, sugar, and balsamic in a bowl.
- Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet. I lined mine with parchment paper.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly soft but not totally dried out. Let cool.
- Puree 3/4 mixture and leave 1/4 whole. If there is some balsamic gathering around the pieces you can add it to the mixture during the churning step. Don’t throw it away!
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of sugar (1/4 cup). Set aside.
- In a heavy stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
- Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture from the bowl back into the pan.
- Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
- Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the container into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours overnight.