Happy 4th of July, and welcome to Summer Plus, the hottest season around. Let me walk you through a summer classic with a little twist.
I love experimenting with crazy ice cream flavors. I have made things from sweet corn to malted-mint chocolate ice cream. I love the almost chewy texture of a chocolate ice cream started with cocoa. I love the heavy mouth-feel of a custard based ice cream. But when summer rolls around I just want simple and refreshing. Intensity is fine, but the weight and density of heavy and complicated flavors can be almost too much. When I’m first getting used to the heat of summer, I want something lighter, and more of a feeling than a full on event. For that, I can’t get enough of a simple, perfectly executed, fruit-based ice cream. And my go-to for the start of summer has become this recipe.
This is a modified Jeni recipe. She is my go-to for experimenting with Philadelphia style bases (no eggs, as opposed to French which uses custard). Custards, because of the egg and the longer, slower cooking time, usually have lower and heavier flavor tones. The fat and binding comes from the fats in the various dairy and don’t rely so much on the cooking process. This lets the cream flavor come through a bit cleaner, which pairs great as strawberries and cream.
What’s great about this recipe is that it really puts the strawberries front and center. From Jeni, I take the roasting to really bring out the flavors. It’s just 10 minutes, but it’s astounding how much of a difference that makes. It’s strange how infrequently people consider roasting fruits. We cook vegetables all the time, and meat almost every time it’s served. Roasting changes the consistency and make-up of foods, and fruits are far too often overlooked. Taste one before you roast them and then again after. They’ll both taste like “strawberry” but also taste a world apart.
Oh, and there’s one extra trick I’ve thrown in from Alton Brown.
Freezing the berries. Yes, freezing them. Even if they’re fresh? Absolutely. The first time I made this recipe it was from berries I had picked myself and I still froze them. Because ice crystals are slightly bigger than liquid water molecules (that’s why ice floats), freezing the berries will actually crack and break the cell walls a bit. When they thaw you’ll see juice just running out of them without any sort of processing. This does destroy the firm texture of fruit, but if you’re going to be cooking the fruit then this isn’t a problem. Fruits to be used in jams, pies, and purees really should all be frozen first. That and the roasting makes the strawberry flavor absolutely pop.
ROASTED STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
Makes about a quart
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced ½ inch thick
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
ICE CREAM BASE
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Freeze the strawberries
For the strawberries:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the strawberries with the sugar in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish, stirring gently to mix well. Roast for 10 minutes, or until just soft. Let cool slightly.
Puree the berries in a food processor with the lime juice. Measure 1 cup of the pureed berries; refrigerate the rest of the puree for another use.
For the ice cream base:
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the reserved ½ cup strawberry puree and blend well. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.