Friday, July 10, 2009

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I know strawberries are long over in many places, but in this part of the world they are just coming into their glory. I look forward to fresh strawberries more than any other food; they just speak summer to me. And of all the strawberries in the world, I can say without any bias whatsoever that Prince Edward Island strawberries are the best in the whole wide world. They are sweeter, tastier, truer than any other berry you'll ever eat.

I mean just look at that berry. And that's not even a prime season berry, folks!

I know of few better ways to celebrate the lovely strawberry than with homemade strawberry ice cream. With such gorgeous berries, you really want to showcase their flavour in a simple manner; don't chop them up into something where they're just a background taste, make them the star of the show!

If you've never made ice cream before, please start; it's easy, cheap, and better than anything you'll ever buy. (See my post on Honey Peach Ice Cream for basic tips.) I prefer using a custard base rather than using cornstarch to thicken the base; I just think it gives a creamier, smoother taste. And really, if you're using 1.5 cups of cream in one recipe, are you really worried about the extra calories from egg yolks? Go big or go home, that's what I say!

Make your custard base first, and while it's chilling, cut up your berries. You need to let them sit for a couple of hours so they get all juicy. Stir the accumulated juices into the custard base, pour into the ice cream maker, and churn baby churn. About 5 minutes before it's done, add the chopped berries.

And see? Here's your result. No, it's not bright pink, because it's all real, fresh ingredients. And those black specks? That's real vanilla bean, baby. (Make sure you put the spent bean in a jar with sugar: in a few weeks, voila, you now have vanilla sugar to boot.) I'd tell you that I didn't eat big spoonfuls right out of the machine, but, well, that would turn this blog into a BLOG OF LIES!

So make this ice cream. Would a girl like me lie to a person like you? Nah!

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vodka (optional)

1. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds, adding both to the milk-cream mixture. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat mixture until it is thick, smooth, and pale yellow in colour.

3. Next, prep your strawberries. Thinly slice 2 cups of fresh berries and combine with 1/3 cup of sugar and 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let macerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

4. After 30 minutes, remove the vanilla bean from the milk (add to a cup of sugar if you like, and in a month you'll have vanilla sugar!). Pour out a cup of hot liquid and slowly add to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. This will temper the eggs and keep your custard from becoming scrambled eggs.

5. Add tempered mixture back to the main pot, whisking all the while. Cook, stirring continuously, over medium low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

6. Strain mixture through a seive (this will catch any lumps that may have formed) into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill completely, overnight preferably, but at least two hours.

7. Add strawberry juices and vodka to the custard mixture, and pour into your ice cream machine. During the last five minutes, add reserved berries. Add mixture to an airtight container, and let cure for at least 2 hours.

I just had to throw this failed picture in here for amusement's sake. It reminds me of the red room Jane Eyre's benefactors threw her in for punishment...only with ice cream instead of a ghost! Go Jane!


  1. Until a few years ago, I was only a few hours down the highway from you, in Saint John. Or half an hour by plane, if you were feeling flush. I don't suppose the ice cream will keep til the 9 hour flight from England to Halifax is done and dusted? :)

    Glad to have found your blog (via Drew Kime's site)


  2. I could always meet you at the airport and give you a pint. ;) What brought you to England? I love England, and it's been 4 years since I've been. I'm currently trying to scam my way back. I checked out your blog - love those essential oils!