As much as we love ice cream I seldom make it during the winter. The ice cream freezer moves to the cupboard in the garage in October and doesn’t surface until the days turn warm and fresh fruit starts showing up at the farmers’ market. Our berry season is finally here and yesterday, when I went to the farmers’ market, I had quite the variety to choose from. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, blackcaps and blueberries were available along with apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries. It wasn’t easy making a decision.
Blackberries were the ultimate choice because they were so juicy and sweet. Their season is short so I decided to go for it before they disappeared from the market. This vanilla custard base is rich and creamy and is the starting point for many of my ice cream recipes. The berries can be left practically whole or mashed down to smaller chunks before they are added the ice cream. You can even strain out the seeds if you don’t like them. You will see in the recipe that vodka is added to the berries to keep them from forming ice crystal while the ice cream is freezing. Don’t worry…it doesn’t add any flavor to the ice cream…it’s completely a texture thing. I added a tablespoon of King Arthur Flour’s Instant Clearjel Powder to the mashed berries to slightly thicken the mixture…no cooking required. That also reduces the possibility of frozen ice crystals in the finished ice cream.
I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker and I’m very happy with it. I found it at Costco several years ago and it came with 2 freezer containers so I can make 2 different flavors at the same time…for instance, vanilla and orange sherbet…and swirl them together to make creamsicle ice cream. This recipe fills the container about half way and when it is frozen to the right consistency it fills the bowl to the top.
Scoop the ice cream into a freezer container and spoon the berry topping over the ice cream as you go. Don’t mix the two together. If you do you will quickly have a container full of pink ice cream. Cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap and seal with a tight fitting lid. Freeze several hours or overnight.
Several weeks ago I received an email from SINGING DOG VANILLA, an Oregon company based in Eugene, that requested permission to use my recipe for VANILLA BEAN MADELEINES on their website. I’m always happy to share my recipes so quickly agreed. They sent me a sampling of their products to try and I used their vanilla bean paste in this ice cream recipe. I am so impressed with this product that it will have a place in my cupboard from now on. I LOVE IT! It has the consistency of honey with intense aroma and flavor and is used in place of vanilla beans in fine baking. I told the company how much I liked their products and they generously offered to send these same items to one of my readers if I would like to host a giveaway. Well…of course I would! This is an easy giveaway…just leave a comment that includes a way to contact you and you will be included. A winner will be chosen at the end of the month and you can increase your chances of winning if you leave comments on additional posts until then.
- 1 cup whole milk
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1-2 tablespoons vodka (optional) See note below
- 1 cup fresh blackberries (or any other berry you prefer)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon King Arthur Flour Instant Clearjel Powder
- To make the custard: Combine milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts.
- Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrap the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly with a rubber spatula until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spatula (it should be between 170 and 175 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer).
- Pour the custard through a strainer into a medium sized bowl. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste until combined well. Place the bowl in an ice bath and stir occasionally until the mixture is cool. Cover and chillin the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.
- To make the berry swirl: An hour before you are ready to churn the ice cream combine the berries, sugar and vodka in a small bowl and mash with a fork until the juices are released but large chunks still remain. Stir in the Instant Clearjel Powder if you are using it. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill until needed.
- To churn the ice cream: Freeze the ice cream custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. In my Cuisinart it took 23 minutes. As you remove the ice cream and place in a freezer-safe container layer it with spoonfuls of the berry swirl mixture. Place a layer of plastic film over the top of the ice cream, cover with a tight fitting lid and freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight.