Wednesday, February 22, 2012

blackberry ice cream


I made this ice cream for my valentine. I served a scoop perched a-top mini molten chocolate cakes. While the chocolate cakes were deep dark chocolatey happiness, I know what my husband really loved was the tart sweet creaminess of this ice cream. I love it for those reasons too but also, is it not the most lovely purple color?

(Side note: I have been pretty obsessed recently with the combination of chocolate and blackberry. I think it started back when I made this cake and topped it with the glistening dark jewels. In addition to the Valentine's day dessert described above, for a friends Birthday I recently made a chocolate truffle cake and served it with a gorgeous slick of blackberry couli and whipped mascarpone cream. Sadly, I failed to photograph it but I predict it will make a repeat performance soon and I will post pictures and recipes at that time.)

The recipe is from Alice Waters. I have had the pleasure of dining at Chez Panisse with dear friends a few years ago. It is sincerely one of the food highlights of my life. We were in San Francisco to celebrate with our friends who were getting married the next day. While at the restaurant, the bride bought two copies of Waters' "The Art of Simple Food" and graciously gave me one. About six months later, Ms. Waters was the guest speaker at a nearby university event and myself and a couple of friends were lucky enough to be seated right near her. She said many wonderful things that evening but one phrase in particular stuck with me: "We do not understand the cost of cheap food."

I have made this recipe a couple of times. It is originally written for strawberry ice cream but I have made it with the blackberries pictured below and another time with raspberries. I love all her suggestions to use different fruits when in season (doesn't pear ice cream sound amazing?) For more ice cream/sorbet recipes please see here, here, and here.

blackberry ice cream

3 egg yolks
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 pints blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
couple drops of vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1) In a small bowl whisk briefly, just enough to break up, 3 yolks.

2) Measure into a heavy-bottomed pot: 3/4 cup half and half, 1/2 cup sugar.

3) Set a strainer over a heat proof bowl. Heat the half and half over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. When hot, whisk a little of the hot half and half into the egg yolks and then whisk the warmed yolks into the hot mixture (this step is important to help avoid cooked egg yolks).

4) Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and quickly strain. Add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Cover mixture and chill.

5) Wash and dry 1 1/2 pints blackberries. Warm the berries on low heat with 1/4 cup sugar until they just begin to release their juices. Puree in a food processor and strain the puree to remove the seeds. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if needed.


6) Add the berry puree to the cold cream mixture and flavor with a couple drops of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

7) Chill thoroughly, and freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturers instructions.




Variations:
* For heightened flavor, add 1 or 2 teaspoons kirsch (cherry eau-de-vie) at the same time as the vanilla.
* For strawberry ice cream: wash, dry and hull 1 1/2 pints strawberries. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a food mill. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar. Let the strawberries macerate in their own juices, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted.
* Puree 1 1/2 pints raspberries, mulberries, or other soft berries, and strain the puree to remove the seeds. Use in place of the blackberries. With the exception of raspberries, the berries should be warmed until they just begin to release their juices before pureeing. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, if needed.
* Substitute 1 1/2 cups mashed peeled peaches or nectarines.
* Substitute 1/12 cups plum or pear puree. Before pureeing sliced plums or pears, heat them with with sugar and a bit of water until soft.
*This recipe will work without the egg yolks: the ice cream will be lighter and the texture will be grainier and less creamy.

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