Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CSA week ten - strawberry honey basil ice cream

Not too enormously innovative of a flavor this time around. You get a couple pages of results if you Google for strawberry basil ice cream before you start to hit the sorbets. Adding honey seems to be an unusual twist, though, and I think it adds something.

1 pound strawberries, cleaned, hulled and chopped or sliced
8 ounces by volume (about 10 ounces by weight) modestly well-flavored honey, wildflower or generic supermarket honey would work fine
1 pinch salt
2 Tablespoons vodka
2 cups cream
2 small handfuls fresh basil leaves, bruised
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves, also roughed up a little
up to 1/4 cup sugar

1. Combine the strawberries, honey, salt and vodka in a medium bowl and let macerate 1 hour at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator. What with the honey, it's hard to tell when the berries released their juices so judge by when they soften. Move strawberry mixture to a blender and blend until only slightly chunky. [Now that I think about it, there's no reason you couldn't macerate in the blender container. You should do that.] Remove to the lidded container you'll be cooling the ice cream mix in.

2. Combine the cream with 1 handful of fresh basil and the dried basil. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. [Normally I cover the pot at this stage, but I want to reduce the cream a little so let it evaporate. Break the skin that forms on top to let the steam out.]

3. Strain the cream into a blender and discard the used basil. Add the second handful of basil to the cream and blend until the cream turns green and the specks of intact basil are quite small. [I also added an egg yolk at this point since I had a spare handy. I didn't bother to reheat the cream so it would have a thickening effect so it just added a bit of richness.] Add to the strawberry mixture and combine.

4. Chill overnight, adjust sweetness by adding sugar if necessary, churn [this recipe makes a lot so I churned in two small batches. Neither got too very solid. The vodka and all that fructose keeps it soft.], ripen and serve.

As I said up top, strawberries and basil are a well-known combination so it's no surprise that they make for a nice ice cream. I managed to get a lot of basil flavor into the cream so it's well balanced with the strawberries, tempering their sweetness with herbal flowery notes and a slight bitterness. The honey is less prominent, coming out more as the ice cream melts, but it rounds out the combined berry-basil flavor. One person who tried it likened the result to guava; I could see that.

The texture isn't as creamy as some ice creams I've made, but pretty good considering that it's half fruit.

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