I know that it’s been a month since we’ve posted, and I’ll take the blame. I moved in the last month, while recovering from a fractured left shoulder and carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand. Lots of wonderful people pitched in to help, but it hasn’t exactly been the easiest summer.
The apartment I moved into has had its own share of, um, issues. The refrigerator quit working a couple of days after I moved in. The oven knob didn’t have any temperature markings – or any markings at all, for that matter. Seriously, a cook’s nightmare! To keep myself sane amidst all the moving challenges, I’ve been making ice cream. So that’s what we’re talking about today.
Even though ice cream has been my saving grace over the last few weeks, but it hasn’t always turned out properly. My first two batches were a complete bust. Today, I’m going to share the recipe that went right (which came from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto – an excellent investment), and in a couple of days I’ll do a post about how to avoid some of the glitches that make ice cream go wrong. But for now, I present to you Strawberry Ice Cream with a Balsamic Drizzle.
Strawberries and balsamic vinegar may seem like an odd combination, but holy cow, are they a fantastic ice cream combination! The tang of the balsamic vinegar is a perfect balance to the berries’ sweetness, and it contrasts delightfully with the creaminess of the ice cream. Really – this is one combination that you should try.
If you won’t take my word and are still hesitant about the vinegar, you can put the balsamic reduction in little squeeze bottle and only squirt as much as you want over the ice cream. But if you’re really brave, layer ice cream with the reduction as you transfer the it to the container for freezing. Put a quarter of the churned ice cream in the container, cover it with a thin layer of balsamic reduction, add more ice cream, then more balsamic…you know the drill.
A note of warning: be sure to use a decent quality balsamic vinegar. A lower quality vinegar yields a nasty reduction. Believe me – I know from experience. I used Wegman’s house brand balsamic, and it was great. The house brand from Kroger’s, on the other hand, doesn’t work as well. You don’t need to spend a ton of money, but be sure you get something decent. You strawberry ice cream will thank you!
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
- 2 tbs. lemon juice
- 1 cup decent quality balsamic vinegar (I used Wegman's house brand)
- For the ice cream base: Combine the milk and the cream in a medium saucepan and heat to 170 F. While the cream is heating, place the egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl. Whisk them rapidly until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
- When the cream mixture reaches 170 F, add about a cup to the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it is incorporated. Add about a cup more of the cream, and continue whisking. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and place it over low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it reaches 185 F. (The mixture should coat the back of a spoon, but it won't be as thick as custard yet. Stop when it reaches 185 F anyway! It will thicken as it chills.) Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. You've now got a plain ice cream base.
- While the base cools, make the berries. Place the berries in a medium saucepan, along with the sugar and the lemon juice. Toss them together, and let them sit for 15 minutes, or until they start to release their juices.
- Over medium-high heat, cook the strawberries for about 10 minutes, until they soften and the juices begin to thicken. Remove them from the heat and allow them to come to room temperature.
- Set aside a quarter of the berries, and puree the rest in a blender. Stir the puree into the cooled ice cream base. Transfer the base and the remaining berries to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight. Everything needs to be very cold before going in the ice cream maker.
- When the base is cold, transfer it to your ice cream machine, and churn according to the machine's instructions. A couple of minutes before the ice cream is finished, add the berries.
- For the balsamic drizzle: Add a cup of decent quality balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, and then quickly turn the heat to low. Let the vinegar simmer until it thickens and reduces to about 1/4 cup, in around 15 minutes. Keep your eye on this because it can burn pretty quickly. Let the balsamic reduction cool, and store in the refrigerator. If you want to layer it with the ice cream, be sure that it's thoroughly chilled before layering.