Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blueberry buttermilk ice cream

My original plan was to make an olive oil ice cream, and I bought the blueberries to go with that, but I've got to get rid of this buttermilk and buttermilk and blueberries are a classic combination. Maybe too classic, really. This certainly isn't the most innovative ice cream I've ever made in concept, although, since I'm adapting Jeni Britton's basic recipe instead of adding a bunch of egg yolks again, there is some originality in practice.

Ice cream base ingredients:
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 Tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Mix corn starch with two Tablespoons on milk in a small bowl.

2. Heat buttermilk, milk and heavy cream in a medium pot to boiling. Turn heat down to low and simmer for five minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whip cream cheese until fluffy.

4. Remove milk mixture from heat, whisk in corn starch mixture and return to heat for a minute or two until it thickens slightly.

5. Strain milk mixture into the container you're going to store it in. Whisk in cream cheese, vanilla and salt. Let cool on counter for a half hour then in refrigerator for at least two hours until it reaches 40 degrees before churning.

The blueberry swirl is adapted from a blueberry sauce in David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. I'm really not sure if leaving in the cornstarch from the original was a good idea. It'll thicken plenty just from the freezing temperatures. On the other hand, I think the cornstarch improves the texture as it melts on the tongue. I'd have to try it without to be sure, though.

Blueberry swirl ingredients:
1 cup cultivated blueberries (wild don't have enough juice in them)
1 ounce (by volume) sugar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons vodka (berry flavored or kirsch if you've got it. Lebovitz suggests crème de cassis as a variation.)
0-2 Tablespoons light honey or agave nectar to taste

1. In a small nonreactive saucepan, heat blueberries and sugar over medium heat until blueberries begin to release their juices. Smush them up a bit to help the process along if you're getting impatient.

2. Mix the cornstarch with the water and lemon juice until smooth. When the pan is full of more juice than berries, add the cornstarch slurry, stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more.

3. Remove from heat and mix in the vodka. Let cool slightly and check the flavor. Don't worry about any alcohol bite; that goes away in the freezer. Make sure it's good and sweet as the cold dampens that down.

4. Pour into a storage container and store in the freezer until you're ready to start churning the ice cream. At that point, remove to the kitchen counter to thaw. Once the ice cream is ready, give the swirl a good stir to make sure it's at least vaguely liquid. You can either pour it into the churn to let it swirl for you for 10 seconds or so, or do it manually.

I chose to do it manually since I was doing another mix in too. I figured this wasn't interesting enough as is and added chunks of a blueberry buttermilk oat quick bread I baked a few days previous. I made the recipe just as I found it at The Kitchn so I'll send you over there instead of making this post any longer.

Mine didn't turn out nearly as fluffy as theirs. I think they meant to say 2 teaspoons of baking soda, not baking powder, as the baking soda would react with the acid buttermilk to make bubbles to raise the loaf.
Fortuitously, the dense chewy bread worked rather well as an ice-cream mix in when a light cakey bread would have fallen apart into crumbs. All's well that ends in ice cream, I always say.

Here's everything piled up before I swirled it together. Actually, I did more of a fold. It worked out better than my swirling usually does so I'm going to stick with that technique in the future.

And here's the final result:

Pretty isn't it?

I was hoping all that alcohol would keep the swirl liquid, but it doesn't quite. It does melt rapidly on the tongue, though, releasing a burst of tart blueberry flavor over the creamy tangy buttermilk base. Most folks misidentified the tanginess as from cream cheese as there's a distinct cheesecake flavor here (and I've let the cream cheese age to create a cheesecake flavored ice cream before).

There's the occasional intact berry in there which has a little bit of icy crunch, but not so much that it's unpleasantly crunchy. The quick bread is a nicely sweet contrast to the other components, both of which aren't actively un-sweet, but do have more prominent flavors hiding their sugar content. I was afraid the bread would freeze hard, but it's waterlogged so it's soft and a bit crumbly. Not really necessary, but if you used flavored liquor in the berries, it might be nice to soak the bread in a little of that too. There's a lot of good stuff going on here with all those different flavors and textures working well together.

I still want to do an olive oil ice cream but I'm thinking of pairing it with a dark chocolate stracciatella and fleur de sel.

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