Tag Archives: ice cream

Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

This summer has been absolutely beautiful. It’s been warm, with not too many muggy, hot days that make it too sticky to move. It’s been dry, which has been a blessing for people still struggling with flooding. And it’s been almost completely bug-free, which was a surprise considering the amount of standing water we had earlier in the year. All in all, gorgeous. My husband said that years from now, we’ll say things like, “Well, this summer has been nice, but it’s not as nice as the summer of ’11!”

As much as we’ve been able to get out on walks and bike rides, it is summer, and summer is never kind to my waistline. Summer means cookouts and burgers and steaks and grilled veggiles drizzled with oil. And it means ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

We’ve slowly been expanding our ice cream repertoire after perfecting the vanilla bean ice cream recipe last year. I’ve especially been interested in trying flavours that you just can’t get in ordinary, grocery-store ice cream. For example, an article that I read recently told the woeful tale of a small Chicago-area business who was just trying to make yummy ice cream, but is in danger of being shut down due to regulatory issues (I tweeted the article, comparing it to the plight of Winnipeg’s food truck businesses). In the photo that accompanied the article was a carton of their strawberry basil ice cream.

I was intrigued. I made it. We like it! It’s definitely a strawberry ice cream, but the taste of the basil hits you first, letting the strawberry follow behind. It’s different, and really refreshing.

Strawberry-Basil Ice Cream

Here’s what you need to make your own.

  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk (3.25%)
  • 1 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tsp
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pint strawberries (hulled and halved)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried

A note about the basil: If you’ve ever grown your own, you know that basil flowers readily. The flower spikes can also be used in this recipe. Get just shy of the 1/2 cup of basil, and then toss in two or three flower spikes. Don’t chop them with the leaves in the steps below, but leave them whole.

Mix the milk, cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan over low-ish heat. You want to be able to control what temperature the milk gets to, and if it heats too quickly it may scald.

Carefully heat the milk mixture to 170°F, stirring constantly. As soon as the milk mixture reaches 170°F, remove it from the heat.

Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar over the basil leaves and chop. You don’t have to go totally crazy, but you want the pieces fairly small to release as much oil as possible.

Allow the milk mixture to cool a bit, then pour it into a container with a lid. Add the basil to the milk mixture. Store it in the fridge overnight to let the mixture chill completely and the flavours mature.

When you’re ready to make ice cream, remove the ice cream maker bowl from the freezer and assemble the appliance. Using a spoon, fish out as much of the basil as you can. You want to make sure to pull out the larger pieces, but if you leave in a few small pieces here or there it’s ok. (The basil will have turned brown, so it won’t be as pretty as you think it might be.) Discard the wilted basil.

In a tall glass, puree the strawberries using a hand blender. You can leave it slightly chunky if that’s to your taste, but you want the majority of the berries blended smooth. Pour the strawberry puree into the milk mixture and stir.

Turn the ice cream machine on and slowly pour the ice cream mix into the machine.

It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the ice cream to reach soft-serve consistency. Using a spatula, pour the ice cream into a freezer container. Freeze the ice cream for a few more hours to give it a more firm texture.

Serve with a sprig of basil if desired as a garnish.

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Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

If there’s one thing that I love, it’s ice cream.

I think I learned my love for ice cream from my dad. I remember going for ice cream in the summer. We’d all get cones, and he would always finish his first… And then selflessly volunteer to “help” us with ours. (I did sometimes let him help a bit, especially if it was a hot day and the ice cream was melting faster than I could eat it.) These days, though, I’m perfectly capable of finishing my ice cream all by myself. A little too capable, actually.

Chocolate ice cream.

A while ago we decided to get an ice cream maker. This was a surprisingly hard task. We found one at Sears that was really tiny. I also liked the idea of the ice cream maker bowl and paddle for our Kitchen Aid mixer, but the price was a bit steep.

We eventually stumbled upon a huge cache of ice cream makers at Home Outfitters. We bought the Deni Ice Cream Maker (with candy crusher!) and brought it home to try out right away.

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It took some trial and error to find a recipe that we liked. I didn’t want to have to bother with recipes with eggs (and besides, that’s not ice cream – it’s frozen custard), so we set about figuring out the best combo of ingredients for our tastes. One recipe was too crunchy – it was more frozen milk than ice cream. Another tasted like sugary butter – very, very rich, and not really to my tastes.

Finally my husband broke out an Excel spreadsheet to figure out the optimal percent of butterfat that our mixture should have (gotta love being married to a geek!) The resulting flavours and mouthfeel are just perfect. Now that we have a good base down, we’re set to experiment!

To make my husband’s vanilla bean ice cream, you will need:

* 1 whole vanilla bean (look in a gourmet food store or the baking section of a well-stocked supermarket)
* 1 1/2 cup whole milk (3.25%)
* 1 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 pinch salt

Mix the milk, cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan over low-ish heat. You want to be able to control what temperature the milk gets to, and if it heats too quickly it may scald.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and flatten it out. With the back of the knife, scrape the inside of the vanilla bean out. (You’ll get lots of seeds and pulp. It’s good, good stuff.) Put the seeds and pulp into the milk mixture as it heats. Toss the emptied vanilla bean husk in too, why not!

Carefully heat the milk mixture to 170°F. My husband uses his handy-dandy touchless IR thermometer from Think Geek, but you can also use a candy thermometer. Constantly stir the milk so that no hot patches form in the liquid. As soon as the milk mixture reaches 170°F, remove it from the heat.

Allow the milk mixture to cool a bit, then pour it into a container with a lid. Store it in the fridge overnight to let the mixture chill completely and the flavours mature.

When you’re ready to make ice cream, remove the ice cream maker bowl from the freezer (you did remember to freeze it overnight, right?) and assemble the appliance. Remove the vanilla bean husk from the milk mixture. Turn the machine on and slowly pour the milk mixture into the machine.

It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the ice cream to reach soft-serve consistency. Using a spatula, pour the ice cream into a freezer container. Freeze the ice cream for a few more hours to give it a more firm texture.

Scoop and enjoy.

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