Monday, July 23, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Ice-Cream

The Bi-Rite Creamery was on top of my to-do list when I returned to San Francisco for a visit last year. We went there one afternoon, and to our surprise, the line up was relatively short. I had their renowned salted caramel and coffee toffee. After spending a year in Italy, I know a thing or two about ice creams. And I think the combination of all ingredients in my two scoops was simply fantastic.

So when I heard that Bi-Rite has published a cookbook this year, revealing their innovative ice cream flavors, I got very excited. I chose balsamic strawberry as my first recipe to try out. Since strawberries were in season, and I could pick them fresh from the field. I was also curious of what the balsamic vinegar would do to the flavor. The vinegar enhanced the strawberry flavor. The balsamic vinegar I used was even infused with strawberry, which intensified the aroma.

Often home-made ice-cream gets rock hard in the freezer and develops to many ice-crystals. This one was still creamy even after I had frozen it for a while. I think that has something to do with the high fat content that this recipe asks for. In addition, the strawberry pieces were also cooked before added to the ice-cream mixture, further reducing the water content. Once taken out of the freezer, the ice-cream only need be thawed for a few minutes before you can enjoy the balsamic inspired strawberry flavor.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice-Cream (adapted from "Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones" from Bi-Rite Creamery)

- makes about 950 ml -

500 g strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

5 egg yolks
100 g cups sugar
420 ml cups heavy cream
180 ml cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

In a large skillet combine the strawberries with the 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of the balsamic vinegar. Put over medium heat and cook for about 6-8 minutes, until the berries are soft and the liquid has reduced.

Let cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juice to a blender. Purée until smooth and refrigerate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and half of the sugar.

In a heavy saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining sugar and put over medium-high heat, until it starts to simmer. Very slowly pour the hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture while constantly whisking. Pour everything back into the saucepan and continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened.

Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Put container into an ice bath and stir occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Whisk the strawberry purée and the remaining 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar into the chilled base. Freeze in your ice-cream machine as directed by the manufacturer.

Enjoy and Guten Appetit!

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