I decided that I’m going to stop trying to make excuses and witty comments about making ice cream in the winter. My wife and I love ice cream, and I get the impression that I’m going to be doing this quite often. I really enjoy making it, have more flavor ideas than I can expect to actually do during the entire coming year, and its such a fun and easy dessert to make. So what’s new to the Mulligan freezer this week? A delicious maple blueberry ice cream with brazil nuts.
Ice cream had sort of become a staple in our freezer without any conscious realization of it happening. It just sort of shows up, goes away, and what do you know, there’s some more again. There’s the desserts I make/bake every week and there’s the backup: a carton of ice cream from the grocery store so that if you needed variety in dessert during the week (or ran out before the next dessert making session, heaven forbid!), it was there for you. But now that I’ve seen the light on home-made ice cream, it kills me to buy a pre-made carton–hell, look at the ingredients in there. I mean, really, skim milk? Ice cream needs whole milk and heavy cream. Corn syrup? No thank you.
So anyways, now that you’re in the know on my ice cream philosophy, back to this week’s ice cream. Blueberries have been beckoning me, but I always turned the other cheek–sorry blueberries, but $5 for a tiny container just seems…wrong. Well, it just so happened they were on sale, so I figured even though its not quite blueberry season just yet how could I turn them down? I wasn’t quite certain how I wanted to flavor the ice cream with them. Blueberry and white chocolate? Blueberry cheesecake? Straight-up blueberry? I decided to go with a more breakfast-y kind of feel: a maple ice cream custard (yum!) with a blueberry syrup with crushed brazil nuts added in at the end (never had them? I’d say think of a combination of walnuts and macadamia–kind of astringent, high in fat, and meaty).
The result is a rich, soft, creamy ice cream with a very sexy purple color with some nice speckling of nuts and small blueberry chunks for texture and looks. This was delicious, even for berries not quite at their peak, so I’d be delighted to taste the results at the height of the season. The only change I would make: I used grade A maple syrup (the common stuff you’d pour on pancakes at breakfast) as I already had some handy, but for a more intense and distinct maple flavor, I’d splurge for a higher grade next time.
- Maple Ice Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 7 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Blueberry nut mix
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup Brazil nuts
Preparing the custard base for this ice cream is simple and pretty straightforward. In a saucepan, scald (don’t boil) the milk and in a large bowl, set up an ice bath with a smaller bowl sitting inside. Pour the cream into the smaller bowl.
In another bowl (or that of a stand mixer), beat the egg yolks and sugar until well mixed and the color changes a bit. Once mixed and once the milk is properly warmed, add a bit of the warm milk to the yolk mixture to temper the eggs, mixing all the while. Then, pour the yolk mixture into the hot milk pan, stirring constantly over medium heat.
Within a few minutes (I would say 3 minutes or so), this should have some bubbles forming around the edges and should coat the back of a spoon. Get this off of the heat and pour it through a strainer into the cream bowl (which is currently on ice) to ensure no scrambled egg (if any exists) gets through and to stop the cooking of the egg right away.
Now, in this bowl, add the salt, vanilla, and most importantly: maple syrup. Stir this well.
At this point, that’s all there is to do for the custard, so put a sheet of plastic wrap over it and press it right against the surface of the custard (to prevent a skin from forming). Set this in the fridge for 6-8 hours while you go do something else to take your mind of wanting to eat ice cream right now.
So on to the blueberry part of this dessert. Add the blueberries and sugar to a saucepan and crank the heat up to medium high. Within about 10 minutes or so, the berries should begin to burst and break down, oozing sweet purple syrup (kind of like making cranberry sauce). At this point, drop the heat down to medium, stirring gently. I’m all about adding some extra texture to my ice cream, so I don’t bother fully crushing/straining the berries, allowing some whole/large chunks to remain, but if you’re more of a silky-smooth-with-nothing-else-present-in-the-ice-cream kind of person, you might want to strain this mixture or put it through the food processor (being wary of staining everything around you blue 😮 ).
For some extra maple flavor, add some maple syrup to this mixture (or, if the berries are already really sweet, you can skip this) and let the mixture warm up and get bubbly again (it shouldn’t take very long). While you wait for that, smash the brazil nuts to bite-sized chunks (hammer them in a plastic bag), and then, once bubbly, add in the crushed nuts. Stir this together for about 2 minutes or so and then take it off of the heat, giving it some time to cool down. Once cool enough, transfer to an airtight container in the fridge.
Finally, many hours later, to the ice cream maker! Per whatever instructions came with your machine (freeze the bowl for 24 hours, have it spinning before you put anything in, etc), add in the custard and let it churn for about 20 minutes. At the end of that time, pour in the blueberry nut mixture and let it churn for an additional minute or two, watching as your pristine ice cream custard changes color before your eyes.
Transfer this to an airtight container and let it sit in the freezer overnight before you dig in. This also makes a fantastic complement to a nice warm plate of nectarine cobbler–contrasting colors, temperatures, flavors, and textures, but all together in your mouth: a beautiful thing.