Wild Blackberry Ice Cream (#25)

30 08 2012

I have a secret berry patch near my work.  Over the past few weeks during my lunch hour, I would head down the street, around the corner, and then along a country lane.  At the end, I would find a tangly mess of thorny bushes loaded with sun-warmed berries.

country lane

A lunch hour stroll along a country lane…

blackberry bushes

Wild blackberries galore!

I am never prepared for berry picking.  Protective long-sleeved top and long pants?  No.  Sturdy shoes for stepping on and over thorny branches?  No.  Heavy duty gardening gloves, mega garden shears, and a stack of plastic buckets?  No, no, no.  Office clothes, open-toe shoes, and two pint-sized Ziploc bags tucked in my back pocket?  Why, yes!  That’s me.  But so far, I’ve emerged from the bushes unscathed (except for the odd little scratch here and there), and my clothes are still free of berry stains.

As with Week #19’s Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, this recipe requires the berries to be pureed and strained of its seeds, which are full of bitter tannins.  The puree is then gently simmered until its volume is reduced by one-half, reducing its water content and intensifying the sweet blackberry flavour.  Enjoy the last days of summer with some berry picking and this simple, four-ingredient ice cream recipe!

Wild Blackberry Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained blackberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
3 cups half-and-half cream

  1. Puree the raspberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Pour the puree into a saucepan.  Bring the puree to a simmer over medium heat and let the puree reduce in volume by one-half, stirring occasionally.  This should take 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  4. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. When cool, whisk in the blackberry puree.
  8. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  9. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
blackberry ice cream

The Official Taster says: “The North Shore black bears would love this!”





Caramelized Apricot and Brandy Ice Cream (#24)

23 08 2012

The Official Taster has declared that he gets extra ice cream this week — payback for when I bashed him in the leg with my unicycle.  I’ve been trying to learn to ride a unicycle for quite some time now, and I really ought to stop practicing in the hallway as I’m waiting for the elevator.  Last week I almost accidentally pulled the fire alarm when I tried to steady myself.  This week, the unicycle slipped from underneath me and went flying into the O.T.’s legs.  Big bruise and a scratch.  Ooops.  But an extra large bowl of ice cream can fix that.

Apricots are the star of the show this week.  With soft, velvety skins, apricots also rank quite highly on the Fruit Cuteness scale, just behind the soft and fuzzy peaches that were featured in last week’s light, airy Peaches and Cream Ice Cream.

fresh apricots

Fresh BC apricots basking in the sunshine on Commercial Drive

This week’s ice cream recipe involves more complex flavours: deeply caramelized apricots, warming brandy, and toasted almonds.  There’s a hint of fall just around the corner.

When preparing the apricots, be sure to cook the butter and sugar until the mixture turns a light caramel colour before adding the apricots.  That way, you will achieve a deep amber colour and caramel-ly taste.  During the first round in the test kitchen, I made the mistake of combining the butter, sugar, and apricots in the pan all at once.  Because of the high water content in the apricots, the mixture never caramelized, and what I ended up with was a bright orange apricot compote — sweet and delicious, but not quite what I wanted.  I also mixed 1/2 cup of chopped and toasted almonds into the ice cream, but the texture of the nuts seemed a bit too coarse when paired with the soft, brandy-infused apricots.  I would suggest garnishing the ice cream with toasted sliced almonds instead, as these have a much lighter texture.

Caramelized Apricot and Brandy Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream: (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons brandy
Toasted sliced almonds (optional garnish)

Caramelized Apricots:

2 1/2 cups chopped apricots
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon brandy

For the Ice Cream:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  2. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.  Stir in the brandy.
  5. Chill overnight in the fridge.

For the Caramelized Apricots:

  1. While the ice cream is chilling, prepare the caramelized apricots.
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Swirl occasionally and let the mixture turn a light caramel colour, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped apricots.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots turn a gorgeous dark caramel colour.   This should take another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy.
  5. Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.

To Finish

  1. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In the final stages of churning, add the caramelized apricots and churn to distribute throughout the ice cream.
  3. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds if desired.
caramelized apricot and brandy ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Payback tastes GOOD.”





Peaches and Cream Ice Cream (#23)

17 08 2012

I’m itching for September!  September usually means a weekend getaway with my parents and my sister to the Okanagan and Similkameen for some wine tasting, a couple of decadent winery brunches and dinners, and, of course, a mandatory stop at the roadside produce stands in Keremeos to buy freshly harvested fruits and veggies.  Peaches.  I’m always after peaches.

Peaches are one of my favourite summertime fruits.  They’re juicy, sweet, and oh so enjoyable on their own.  They’re also rather versatile in the kitchen, making their way into salsas and sauces, jams and chutneys, and desserts.  And then there’s the cuteness factor — how many fruits out there are soft and fuzzy?!  Our trip this year is still a few weeks away, so in the meantime, I’ve been buying pounds and pounds of peaches from my local produce shop.

ripe peaches

Cute, aren’t they?

Peaches and cream are a classic flavour combination, and this simple ice cream recipe is intended to let those soft, delicate flavours shine — no caramelizing or grilling the fruit, no boozy additions, no nutty bits and pieces.  (I’m saving all of that for next week!)  If you are chilling the ice cream for more than a few hours, be sure to let it warm up and soften slightly before scooping and enjoying.  That way, you’ll really taste the flavour of the peaches.

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

4 ripe peaches (or enough to yield 2 1/2 cups of puree)
Juice of one lemon
2 eggs
3/4 to 1 cup white sugar (depends on how sweet your peaches are; adjust to taste)
3 cups half-and-half cream
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Peel and pit the peaches.  Place the peaches and the lemon juice into a blender and puree until smooth.  You should have 2 1/2 cups of silky peach puree.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  3. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  5. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  6. When cool, whisk in the peach puree and the vanilla.
  7. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  8. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
peaches and cream ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Refreshing!”





Black Forest Ice Cream (#22)

9 08 2012

There was a news story that broke a few days ago that made me a bit sad.  Apparently, excess cherries from the US are being shipped to Canada, flooding the local market and causing prices to drop.  Cherry farmers in the Okanagan are receiving just half as much for their fruit compared to previous seasons.  With prices so low, farmers cannot afford to harvest the fruit.  Cherry pickers in the Okanagan have been laid off… leaving tens of thousands of pounds of beautiful, crispy, sweet cherries unpicked on the trees.  Sad faces all around.  Support our local farmers!  If you are able, pick up some local Okanagan cherries (and other local fruits and veggies) the next time you’re at the market!

Okanagan cherries

Okanagan cherries

I picked up a couple of pounds last weekend with a specific purpose in mind: BLACK FOREST.  I love chocolate and cherries!

Black forest cake itself is rather… involved.  Last year for my birthday, I was set on making a black forest cake from scratch.  Chocolate shortcrust pastry.  Chocolate sponge cake.  Cherry filling.  Freshly whipped cream.  Shaved chocolate curls.  Project Black Forest was accomplished over two days, the help of my dad (who just happened to have a homemade cake turntable on standby for my use), and caused quite the chocolately mess in the kitchen.

homemade black forest cake

Project Black Forest

But black forest ice cream is a cinch.  Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream + kirsch + boozy cherry compote = THE MOST AMAZING BLACK FOREST ICE CREAM EVER.  And it takes about 20 minutes of prep time!  (Hint: use a cherry pitter)  If you love chocolate and cherries as much as I do, you must try this recipe!

Black Forest Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.5 L)

Ice Cream

3 eggs
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
3 3/4 cups half-and-half cream
3 tablespoons kirsch

Boozy Cherry Compote (makes about 2 cups)

3 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons kirsch
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Read the rest of this entry »





Carrot Cake Ice Cream (#21)

2 08 2012

The last few weeks have been all about light and fresh summer fruit flavours, so a warm and cozy flavour like carrot cake might seem a little bit out of place in August.  But this flavour is in honour of my co-worker Greg, who is getting married this weekend!  When I learned a few months ago that he and his fiancee were choosing carrot cake as one of their wedding cake flavours, I pre-scheduled Carrot Cake Ice Cream for Week #21.  It’s an unusual ice cream flavour, but with carrots as cute as these at the local markets, who can’t resist picking up a couple of bunches and creating some carrot cake ice cream awesomeness with them?!

bunches of fresh carrots

Carrots galore!

Similar to my Hot Cross Buns Ice Cream recipe, the challenge here was to mimic the taste of carrot cake without churning actual bits of cake into a basic vanilla ice cream.  The recipe needed to balance the myriad of flavours of carrot cake — sweet carrots and raisins, a touch of cinnamon, subtle notes of vanilla, toasty pecans, and tangy cream cheese frosting.  After some tweaking, I arrived at the recipe below.  Out of season or not, it’s delicious.

The Official Taster is taking a break from tasting this week.  Though he enjoyed Week #19’s Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, he has declared he does not want to sample any more ice creams containing cream cheese  (???!!!)  So, this week’s Guest Taster is the groom-to-be himself.  Congratulations Greg, and all the best to you & Darlana!

Carrot Cake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.5 L)

6 to 10 carrots (depending on size; you’ll need enough to yield 1.5 cups of cooked carrot puree)
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups half-and-half cream
125 g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

  1. Peel and dice the carrots and place into a saucepan.  Add enough water to just cover the carrots.  Add a pinch of sugar.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until the carrots are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Strain the carrots, reserving the cooking water.  Puree the carrots in in a blender with two or three tablespoons of the cooking water until smooth, scraping the sides down as necessary.  Measure out 1.5 cups of carrot puree.  Let cool.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  5. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly to room temperature.
  6. Place the carrot puree and the cream cheese in the blender.  Add one third of the custard and blend at medium-low speed to combine.  Scrape down the sides.
  7. Add the remaining custard and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Add the raisins to the mixture and chill overnight in the fridge to allow the raisins to plump up and the flavours to mellow.
  9. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  10. In the final stages of churning, add the toasted pecans.
carrot cake ice cream

Greg, this week’s Guest Taster, says: “Two thumbs up!”





Egg-Free Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream (#5-E)

1 08 2012

My Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream recipe from Week #5 is one of my favourites, and I’ve discovered a super simple way to make the recipe egg-free: mashed banana.  The addition of gooey, ripe banana adds that little extra depth and scoopability to the ice cream, compared to some other egg-free chocolate ice cream recipes that use only chocolate, sugar, and milk or cream.  And since this recipe uses a relatively large amount of cocoa, you don’t even notice the taste of the banana!

Use ripe and speckly bananas for this recipe (ones that look like this).  Be sure the bananas aren’t over-ripe (i.e. very high percentage of brown patches), as this will introduce a slightly boozy overtone to the ice cream.  But hey, you might enjoy that too!

Egg -Free Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream (makes about 0.75 L)

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups half-and-half cream

Read the rest of this entry »








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