Thursday, May 13, 2010
Strawberry Ice Cream
After moving into my spanking-new cottage a few days ago (complete with a big, sparkling clean, EMPTY refrigerator and freezer!!!), homemade ice cream was at the top of my priority list (seriously, as in right after unpacking my ice cream maker, and before unpacking all of my clothing).
I normally opt for non-fruit desserts (mmmmm chocolate....), but now that it's spring (and the strawberries and peaches aren't being shipped from Venezuela or wherever) it's pretty hard to resist the shiny, fat apples, fragrant, fuzzy peaches, and giant jewel strawberries in the produce section. Hence the strawberry ice cream! This custard-style recipe contains a lot of fat, which promotes aeration and produces a luscious, creamy (almost fluffy!) ice cream. The strawberries are finely chopped rather than pureed to lend a pale pink hue and light strawberry flavor to the finished treat, with every mouthful punctuated by vibrant, tangy bits of fruit.
As a bonus, the cooked custard that forms the ice cream base (minus the strawberries) can double as a wonderful creme anglaise - just halve the ingredient quantities, omit the lemon and replace it with 1t. vanilla (or use a the seeds of a vanilla bean if you want to get fancy... and expensive...), and proceed as directed. Once the creme anglaise has cooled, add chocolate cake!
But I digress... (thoughts of chocolate tend to do that) back to the ice cream!
1 pint fresh strawberries
1T. fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
1c. whole milk
2c. heavy whipping cream
If you are using an ice cream maker with a drum that must be frozen in advance, make sure it's frozen!
In a large saucepan, combine the cream, milk, lemon juice, and 1/2c. sugar. Heat on low until scalded (little bubbles will start to form at the edges, but do NOT let it boil!). While the cream mixture heats, beat the eggs with 1/4c. sugar until well combined.
When the cream mixture reaches scalding temp., temper the egg mixture. The eggs must be tempered, i.e., slowly brought up to the temperature of the cream, before they are added or the cold eggs will scramble when they hit the hot cream, and I'm pretty sure scrambled-egg ice cream won't be as delicious as strawberry. To temper the eggs, whisk them continuously while slowly drizzling in a thin stream of hot cream. I usually whisk with one hand, and ladle with the other, but you can also enlist a helper to either whisk or ladle. Keep whisking and ladling until you've added about half the cream mixture to the eggs, and they are hot to the touch. At this point, you can safely add everything back into the sauce pan, but you're not out of the woods yet!!! The mixture still needs to be heated until it reaches that velvety, custard consistency. Keep the heat on low, and stir constantly until the mixture thickens slightly (supposedly this happens around 170, but I only had a meat thermometer and it probably wasn't very accurate in custard so I stopped cooking mine when the thermometer said 160).
It is very, very important to stir constantly, and not leave the custard unattended even for five seconds while you search for your candy/meat thermometer. It will curdle (i.e. the eggs will scramble). Don't feel bad if your eggs scramble, but don't bother trying to resuscitate curdled custard. I promise you it will be disgusting. Just bite the bullet, and throw the lumpy mess out. Yes, I did curdle my eggs (thanks to my five-second thermometer hunt), and yes I threw the entire thing down the drain and started over (it might be a good idea to have some extra ingredients on hand if you're a custard newbie). The second time went smoothly though! (literally, haha). When your custard thickens, remove it from the heat and pour it into a metal bowl. Cool completely, either by refrigerating, or by placing the metal bowl in a bigger bowl filled with ice and stirring the custard to chill it (this speeds up the cooling process, which otherwise takes about 2 hours).
While the custard chills, remove the stems from the strawberries, and chop finely. Combine the chopped/crushed berries with the remaining 1/4c. sugar in a small bowl, and refrigerate until the custard is cooled.
When your custard is cold, stir in the berry mixture, and pour the entire mixture into your ice cream maker. Let the directions for the ice cream maker take you from here! (usually it freezes for about 30 minutes in the ice cream maker, and the resulting ice cream is very soft. I like to pack it in tupperware, and freeze it again overnight for the familiar, solid texture).
Serve with chocolate sauce (what else? ha.)