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Food: Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

August 24, 2011

There’s something really satisfying about making good ice cream, a feat I had yet to master before last weekend. When I attempted Chocolate Ice Cream from Cook’s Illustrated I didn’t use a churn – just another tool nobody really needs, I thought. But after seeing my poorly incorporated and weirdly frozen results, it seemed like I’d be living off of Batch and Ben and Jerry’s for the rest of my days. Fortunately for me, Dave bought an ice cream maker.

When researching recipes, I came across many that used both milk and cream, and a few that used half and half. While it seems like the combined effect should be the same, after trial and error it is clear that half and half is the way to go. In addition, recipes that call for more than 6 egg yolks are excessive. The recipe below is based on Emeril’s notes for Strawberry ice cream, but I reduced the number of eggs, added balsamic vinegar, and did a lot more whisking than the recipe called for. The result had a rich berry flavor with a little tang – the vinegar wasn’t overly apparent, but you could tell something was in there. Voila.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
1 quart fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 cups sugar
4 cups half and half
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
5 egg yolks
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 ice cream maker

Combine strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar into a blender, blend until smooth. Add vinegar and pulse until incorporated. Combine half and half, vanilla bean innards, and 2 cups sugar in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking periodically. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a small bowl. Add 1 cup of the simmering liquid mixture to the yolks and whisk until smooth, then add yolk mixture to saucepan and whisk until incorporated.  Bring liquid back to a simmer (whisking periodically) and cook for 4-5 minutes, until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in strawberry mixture. Whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and put a piece of plastic wrap directly on top (to prevent a skin from forming). Let the mixture cool completely – this will take at least a few hours. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and process according to your machine’s instructions. Voila!

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