‘Last Minute’ Roasted Strawberry and Balsamic Ice Cream
I’m sure that the majority of people who don’t blog about food maybe sometimes think us food bloggers are a little cracked. Hey, I’m a food blogger and I’m starting to think that maybe I may be just a bit infatuated with food. Possibly to the point of insanity. To an outsider I must look a bit nuts for sure. Really. To you readers who do ‘get me’ or who get the whole food blogging thing, have you ever wondered whether you’re so crazy about something that you may just lose touch of reality for a moment? For me today, the moment occurred around 5:30 pm. About that time when any sane person would be halfway through making dinner, maybe even already done and enjoying a nice glass of wine with the fruits of their labours. It was about that time when I finally hit on a way to use up the 2 lbs of ‘on the fence’ strawberries sitting in my fridge: Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream. Really though, who in their right mind would start making ice cream at 5:30 pm? My answer is who in their right mind wouldn’t!
Inspiration came from old Google Reader (gosh I’m going to miss it when it’s gone). I plunked ‘strawberry balsamic’ into the search bar and about two minutes later found the drool-worthy photo that I instantly re-blogged (see the preceding post). Even though the photo and post title were drool worthy, there was no accompanying recipe! So, after another search I found one recipe to guide me through roasting the strawberries with sugar and balsamic and also through making a proper custard ice cream base. I could have cut corners a bit and used the vanilla ice cream recipe provided in my Cuisinart manual but I really wanted to have a go at making my own custard.
The recipe gave me the proportions of strawberry/sugar/balsamic and told me to cook the mixture in a pan. I was already on the crazy train so I ignored this advice and added more balsamic than necessary and started the stove at 350 F. I decided to roast the strawberry mixture for about 20 minutes so that the berries were soft but not entirely dry. After they were done, I pureed about 3/4 of the strawberries and left the rest to add so that we had a chunkier ice cream.
I had a lot of fun making the custard for the first time and making sure the egg yolks didn’t solidify. I thought I did a pretty good job but I’m glad that the recipe suggested straining the final custard through a fine mesh. There were a few small chunks of the sort no one likes to find in their ice cream. Due to the excitement of making my first custard, I almost forgot the ice bath.
I left it to cool in the garage for a couple of hours while I made dinner. Yes, I still had to make dinner. Thankfully the family was all in karate tonight and I would have to make late dinner anyway.
Fast Forward three hours and it was time to churn the ice cream. Thankfully these days we have electric churners. I can’t even begin to imagine how much energy it would take to hand churn ice cream. I decided to add about half of the pureed strawberries and half of the strawberry chunks. Hubby tried the concoction and declared that it still had a strong vanilla taste. I added a bit more pureed strawberry and the strawberry flavoured balsamic that was left in the roasting pan…success! My only worry now is how all this extra liquid would affect the creaminess of the ice cream.
Fast forward yet again until the day after…I took the ice cream out of the freezer and all looked well. It scooped nicely and with a warmed spoon I practiced my first quenelles. They didn’t turn out very nicely but luckily I have a bit more ice cream to practice with. I have to admit that I hurried through taking the photos because I was pretty focused on eating that bowl once photos were done. I am really glad that I took the time to make proper custard because it really made a difference in the smoothness and creaminess of the ice cream. The initial flavour that hit me was vanilla, then creamy custard and following that a bit of sweet/sour play from the strawberries and balsamic. I think that roasting the berries instead of cooking them in a stove top pan was a good call. The process definitely decreased the chances of non dairy liquids solidifying in the ice cream. Despite having the perfect texture and strawberry balsamic flavour (you know it’s there to enhance the flavour but it doesn’t overpower it) I would be less heavy handed with the vanilla next time. I always forget how potent my extract is and I just pour without measuring it.
Of course the kids definitely thought I was nuts mixing strawberries and balsamic vinegar. I hope that is enough to keep them away from the container in the freezer, but I know the moment they buckle and give it a try they’ll have that container polished off in no time. Good thing I had mine for lunch.
(and here’s the recipe)