Crazy ice cream flavors have their place, just not in my kitchen. I can’t say I don’t enjoy a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Fossil Fuel now and then but when I started making ice cream last year, I wanted to take pure, natural flavors and let them shine in new and interesting combinations. Buttermilk, with its smooth acidic richness was my first subject.
Starting with a solid base flavor, it evolved into one of my favorite sweet, tart summertime mixes: strawberry-buttermilk. The process of making a French, custard-based ice cream is a little more involved than the all-milk Philadelphia style, but the result is decadent and has a longer stable life in your freezer. I’ve found that custard-based ice creams last up to 1 week verses a few days with Philadelphia.
This ice cream is pure simplicity and elegance. Perfectly ripe strawberries, some lemon, buttermilk and creme fraiche (or sour cream) to balance the berries’ sweetness and add an acidic tang, and heavy cream to mellow it all out make this a flavor I keep coming back to over and over again. Since developing it, I have substituted blackberries and blueberries to great effect (though my first love is the strawberry).
I dislike nebulous directions in a recipe and have come to love the candy thermometer when cooking a custard for ice cream. The FDA recommends cooking eggs to a temperature of 160 degrees, so instead of waiting for the eggs to ‘coat the back of your wooden spoon,’ I just wait until the thermometer tells me they’re done. If you like an eggier flavor, let the custard cook until it gets closer to 175 degrees, but you will need to be extra vigilant to make sure they don’t begin curdling (because who wants scrambled eggs in their ice cream?).
Kim Sunee and I both use the Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Ice-Cream Maker. It’s one of the less expensive makers, is easy to use, and cranks out 1 1/2 quarts of frozen wonder in about 20 minutes. For those who don’t have an ice cream maker, do not despair–ice cream maverick David Lebovitz, author of The Perfect Scoop and more recently Ready for Dessert posted a no-machine solutionon his blog.
Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
This ice cream is pure simplicity and elegance. Perfectly ripe strawberries, some lemon, buttermilk and creme fraiche (or sour cream) to balance the berries' sweetness and add an acidic tang, and heavy cream to mellow it all out make this a flavor I keep coming back to over and over again.
- 1 cups heavy whipping cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 lb strawberries, trimmed and quartered (1 1/2 cups puree)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until custard is thick enough to coat back of spoon (160 to 175 degrees), about 3 minutes (do not boil). Pour custard through fine strainer into clean bowl.
Add buttermilk, crème fraîche, and salt. Chill custard in an ice bath until cold.
Purée strawberries in a blender until smooth, then force through fine sieve (to remove seeds) and add lemon juice. Stir purée into custard.
Spin custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to containers; cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Dan Schumacher is a freelance writer, editor, and recipe tester based in Birmingham, Alabama. He edited with Kim at Cottage Living and previously worked with Food Arts and Gourmet Magazine. For more of his writing, head over to aisle-9.net or Good Taste. Caleb Chancey, whose photography was featured in this post, is a Birmingham, Alabama-based photographer. A few more shots from this story are on Flickr and please look to calebchanceyphotography.com for more of Caleb's work.
Date Published: July 29, 2010
All recipes have been tested by the KimSunée.com Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.