This dessert is a new favorite and a combination of two of my latest obsessions: strawberries and ice cream.
This ice cream was a delightful indulgence. The texture was thick, soft, and creamy, the ice cream a light pink, studded with bright red wedges of strawberry, flecked with dots of vanilla, and the taste: oh the taste! Just like it appears, the ice cream was rich and creamy with a full, fresh strawberry flavor throughout and the sweet, soft element you get from fresh vanilla. All things combined, this dessert was really amazing and my wife’s new favorite when it comes to ice cream (even supplanting floral mango, the one which she previously declared the best ice cream ever)! The flavor was further complicated by the presence of a small amount of balsamic syrup, which is one of those strange sounding but magical combinations that makes strawberries just sing.
This ice cream is a part of my efforts to take advantage of the abundant and amazingly fresh local strawberries that are in my neck of the woods, and it is also one of my entries in Strawberry Seduction.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 7 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 lb strawberries
- 2 cup heavy cream
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Like with most ice cream custard bases, set the milk out in a saucepan and scald it, taking care not to boil. As it is warming up, slit and halve the vanilla bean, scraping out the insides into the milk along with the vanilla pod itself. Once the milk has warmed, turn off the heat and let the vanilla steep for 30 minutes.
Now, while you have this down time, macerate the strawberries. Hull, slice thin slivers, and toss the berry slices in 1/4 cup of sugar. Set this aside in a bowl, giving the strawberries time to surrender their delicious juices. Squeeze the lemon juice over them as well to keep them fresh and give a pinch of tartness.
And now, onto the usual ice cream custard making procedure: scald the vanilla milk mixture again.
Pour the heavy cream into a good sized bowl and put this in an ice bath with a strainer set up over it.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until the color lightens. Temper the yolk mixture with a small amount of the hot milk to prevent the yolks from scrambling, whisking all the while. Then, transfer the yolk mixture into the hot milk pan, stirring continuously over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (figure no more than five minutes), pour this through the strainer into the chilled cream bowl to stop the eggs from cooking any further and scrambling. Take the empty vanilla pod out of the strainer and put it into the cream bowl (so it can continue to impart its luxurious flavor). Mix in the vanilla extract and salt, mixing well.
Now, rinse off your strainer, discarding any scrambled egg (or whatever). With a clean strainer, pour the macerated strawberries into the strainer so that juice strains through into the custard but leaves the strawberry chunks in the strainer.
Once most of the juice has strained through, set the strawberries aside and whisk the custard until well mixed.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap (pressed against the custard surface to prevent a skin from forming) and set this in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
And what to do with the leftover strawberry chunks? Macerate and complicate! In a clean saucepan over medium/medium-high heat, warm up the balsamic vinegar. Reduce this until sweet and syrupy, about five minutes, and then, pour this over the strawberry chunks and the balsamic syrup in a bowl, cover, and set this aside in the fridge as well.
Finally, follow the directions that came with your ice cream maker. For me, this meant churning the custard base (don’t forget to remove the vanilla pod from the custard before you add it to the ice cream maker!) in the well chilled ice cream maker bowl for 20 minutes, after which, I poured in the balsamic strawberry chunks, letting this churn for another 2 minutes. Once this is done, pour into an airtight container and transfer to the freezer for several hours, preferably overnight so that the flavors can develop and further ripen.