Saturday, June 27, 2015

Creamy Zippy Strawberry Ice Cream

Alison on Instagram (who says she isn't sweating the small stuff) also says she wants to make strawberry ice cream.  Her neighbourly voice from my Instagram feed was a forceful reminder of why I started to blog in the first place.  To share my love for food, ideas about food and successful recipes.

Along the way I played with prose and photography but at the end of the day, none of it affects how good food can taste if you have helpful instructions and a solid recipe.

So Alison, here you go and I hope your day in the berry patch is full of red.

I started with a recipe by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez from Gourmet Magazine June 2001 and made the modifications that suit my tastes.  I was attracted to this recipe because it used whole eggs instead of a high number of egg yolks as I have seen in other recipes and have used before.  It was time to give this idea a try.

The berries I used were purchased from Shouldice Farm 3 days before and were still in good shape. I had washed, cleaned and cut them right away.  They were stored in the fridge in a glass bowl (without sugar) covered in plastic wrap which meant they kept well. Because I bought 4 litres of berries, I knew I wanted to do more than eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I'm glad I tried ice cream.

I measured out about 3 cups of my prepared berries for this recipe which resulted in about 1 1/4 cups of purée.  More details in the recipe.

I was diligent about using my Thermapen along the way to make sure my base custard didn't cook too long.  That spells disaster as the eggs will curdle if they get too hot.  Also I made sure that the mixture going into the ice cream machine was super chilled. It was between 40F to 45F (4C to 8C).

I decided to skip the big lemon flavour and opted for adding in a balance of vanilla and balsamic vinegar.

The ice cream machine is a home machine by Cuisinart with a double-insulated freezer bowl.

Good luck and thank you Allison for the nudge to get me to write up this recipe!  It's a keeper for me.

Yields 5 cups

1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vanilla sugar**

3 cups trimmed and quartered strawberries
1/4 cup vanilla sugar**
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Combine the cream and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium low heat.  Once it starts to bubble remove it from the heat.

As the cream is warming, whisk eggs with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in a medium bowl (glass or metal - not plastic).  Use a hand mixer on low if you prefer.  Add the hot milk in a slow stream, whisking quickly.  That helps to bring up the temperature on the eggs without overheating the eggs. The official term is 'tempering'. (Tip: when you have the top edge of the pot on the top edge of the bowl as you do the slow pour, it helps to control the pour and avoids spillage.)  Pour the egg/cream mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly.  The magic temperature you are shooting for is 170F.  No more or you will curdle the eggs.  Do not let it boil.  The custard will thicken slightly. Watch the heat!

Then pour the heated custard through a fine sieve into a metal or glass bowl (not plastic!).  This is important to get out egg bits and vanilla bean bits.  You want a really creamy ice cream, right?  If you have the patience of Job, go ahead and cool it at room temperature and then chill it in the fridge for most of the day to get it to 4C to 8C.  If you have the lack of patience that I do, then put ice cubes with some water in a bowl and place the bowl of custard on ice, stirring until it is chilled.  It will likely still need some time in the fridge. Sorry about that. But at least you won't be waiting forever.

You can make the strawberry purée before or after the custard. Whatever suits your kitchen ballet.  It too needs to be super chilled.  Purée approximately 3 cups of prepared strawberries with 1/4 cup vanilla sugar, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.  I have a VitaMix and it is a dream for this job.  Force the purée through a fine sieve to remove the seeds.  You need 1 1/4 cup of  purée for this recipe. Put in a bowl and cover with saran wrap.  Again, I had no patience to do the fridge chill so I popped it in the freezer for about an hour.  When it hit 4C I mixed the strawberry purée with the custard.  Again, I knew I was all set when the temperature of this strawberry custard mixture was between 4C and 8C.  Gawd bless the Thermapen.  One of my most favourite kitchen gadgets.  It will definitely help you to not sweat the small stuff.

Now get that ice cream machine set up.  The double-insulated freezer bowl needs to be completely frozen.  I have it in the freezer overnight as a minimum. Start it up and pour the strawberry custard with care through the top opening.

The ice cream should be ready in about 20 minutes  Today it was just shy of 20 minutes.  You will hear the machine start to lag when it is getting close. It is important that it doesn't start to completely freeze but it should move like VERY slow moving lava.  If you start to see freezing close to the edge, you're done!

Pour the prepared ice cream into an airtight container.  I prefer a shallow container to give me even freezing in a hurry. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream before putting on the lid to avoid crystals forming on the top. I had the ice cream in the freezer for 3 1/2 hours before serving.

Ice cream keeps for one week.  I feel a bit silly saying that! ;-)

** My vanilla sugar is regular granulated sugar that houses my old vanilla beans that have had the seeds removed for other recipes.  The used vanilla beans infuse their flavour into the sugar. (If I didn't have vanilla sugar on hand I would have put a vanilla bean in the cream as it was heating.  Another alternative is putting pure vanilla extract in the custard after it has heated to 170F.)
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