Alright friends, bear with me, my brain is operating at far from full capacity today. I probably don’t even need to explain why, as it seems most of my northern hemisphere friends are experiencing similar heat waves at the moment. There is only one air-conditioning unit in the living room, which means I spend the majority of the day with papers flying around on my desk as a fan barely cools me down. But the work day is finally over, and I’ve migrated to the living room with my laptop and a cold drink, and I expect to be feeling a whole lot better shortly. (Especially after I’ve eaten my leftover half of a burrito from last night’s Mexican takeout that I’ve been thinking about all. day. And I will eat that thing stone freakin’ cold while I watch Jeopardy!, because that’s how I roll. TV. Zero effort. Don’t even make me look at a stove right now.)
OK, now that I’m already starting to feel a little better, let’s talk about this ice cream. When J and I were dating, strawberries were pretty absent from my life, due to his allergy. So when the berry season rolled around this year, I was really looking forward to making something that was 100%, full-on strawberry. And when I started talking to my friend Seth about attempting another late-season rhubarb pie party this year (one where the pie will hopefully make it to the party intact, which it did not last year), I thought that strawberry ice cream would be a perfect complement to the tart pie.
So we’ll be having a pie + ice cream + Yahtzee (that’s right, Yahtzee!) party this weekend. And I am SO excited because my friend Nicole who I haven’t seen in years is coming to visit. AND I got invited to the pre-event press party for the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, so we’ll be attending that on Saturday! (They’re doing cheese and chocolate pairings and it’s catered by a local BBQ joint, you guys. And I get to take a million photos and not feel like a weirdo. It’s pretty much my dream!) I’m just hoping the weather is merciful on Sunday morning when I need to bake the pie…
I love the combination of strawberries and basil in this ice cream. The basil is subtle, adding just a hint of flavor to offset the sweetness of the berries. And the honey-balsamic reduction adds an awesome, welcome tang. The balsamic reduction was actually meant to be a “swirl,” and not completely mixed into the ice cream. But apparently my technique needs a lot of practice. I decided to read about creating swirls after the fact (because reading about how to do something after I screw it up is also how I roll), so I’ve detailed that technique below. You can always just mix it right in evenly if you want, but I highly recommend trying the swirl if you can. The ice cream was the most beautiful shade of pink pre-balsamic (and it tasted 100% like girly childhood), and it would be really nice to preserve that with some rich swirls running through it instead. I realize strawberry season is coming to a close (at least here in the Northeast), but I highly recommend you snag some of the last berries to make this, so you can savor them throughout the rest of the summer! (Or just eat it all in a day, which is definitely what we’re doing on Sunday.)
Roasted Strawberry & Basil Ice Cream with a Honey-Balsamic Reduction
(adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
1 quart of fresh strawberries
half a dozen-ish basil leaves
1 cup of whole milk
2/3 cup of sugar + 2 tbsp, separated
2 cups of heavy cream, divided
6 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
zest of 1 small lemon
pinch of salt
honey-balsamic reduction (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375°. Clean and whole strawberries, then cut in half. Toss with the 2 tbsp of sugar, then arrange on a baking sheet. Roast for around 25 minutes, or until the berries have released a good amount of their juices. Remove from the oven and let cool, then puree in a food processor or blender. (Or you can just mash them if you don’t mind larger strawberry bits in your ice cream.)
Combine the whole milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and heat until warm, then remove from heat. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into the milk mixture, and add the pod as well. Bruise the basil leaves and add them too, along with the lemon zest. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and set a strainer on top. Prepare an ice bath big enough to hold the large bowl. Strain out basil, lemon zest, and the vanilla pod, then rewarm the milk mixture and beat together the 6 egg yolks in a separate bowl. Once the milk mixture is warm, temper the eggs by slowly whisking it into the eggs a little at a time. Once you’ve incorporated the two, pour everything back into the saucepan.
Stir constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the large bowl of heavy cream, and add the strawberry puree. Transfer bowl to the ice bath and stir until cool.
Chill the custard in the fridge overnight, then process in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is finished churning, add a layer to the bottom of a large tin. Add a drizzle of the honey-balsamic reduction, then lightly swirl in with a chopstick or knife. Add another layer if ice cream and repeat. Continue until all the ice cream is in the tin.
1 1/4 cups of balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp of honey (I highly recommend using a raw honey — the flavor is so much better)
Add the balsamic to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until it has reduced by about 2/3. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Let cool completely (ideally to fridge temp) before using.