Tag Archives: cream

No Brainer Blueberry Ice Cream

For the first time in many years, I missed strawberry season.  In my defense, the season fizzled out pretty quickly this year.  But the reason doesn’t really matter when there is no strawberry jam to fill the freezer for the entire winter.  It just seemed that between travel and schedules, I couldn’t get a flat when they were available and by the next week they were just done.  I hate that.

So, I’ve been going through the freezer and assessing what is left from last season.  Luckily, we’ve still got quite a few blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.  Has anyone ever made jam from frozen strawberries?  If so, let me know how it turned out.  I might give it a try so I don’t have to break down and buy grocery store strawberries for jam — which just seems absolutely sacrilegious.  I think I’d rather just live with raspberry and peach jam than have grocery store strawberry jam.

We still have a ton of frozen blueberries and no one here is a big fan of blueberry jam.  So, I decided to make up a batch of blueberry ice cream.  I tweaked two different recipes/styles and the resulting ice cream is very easy and delicious.  The first recipe is from Epicurious and it is a quick and easy method that doesn’t require a custard base.  The second is from the latest Cooks Illustrated (paywall for recipes), where they discuss how to prevent your ice cream from being too “icy.”

The basic idea is to substitute some corn syrup for part of the sugar and then make sure the base is super chilled before churning.  If you don’t have time to give it a good chilling (4-6 hours or ideally overnight), they have a great method where you take part of the base and put it in a separate container in the freezer (while the rest chills in the fridge).  When you are ready to make the ice cream, take the frozen part of the base and mix it in the refrigerated base — it acts like a big ice cube of ice cream.  Stir it in to melt into the base and then it will be cold enough to put in the ice cream maker.

The resulting ice cream is rich and creamy, but not at all icy (which can happen easily with fruit-based ice creams).  You’ll notice it’s not exactly low fat, but it is also not the kind of ice cream you are going to eat a big bowl of.  A small scoop of this and you’d be entirely satisfied.   It highlights the perfectly simple flavors of summer that require absolutely no lily gilding.

No Brainer Blueberry Ice Cream

I’m sure it would also be good with other berries, but I’d probably strain the base if using raspberries of blackberries to get the seeds out.

Yields about 1 quart

2 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 t salt
1 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract

1.  In a medium saucepan, mix blueberries, sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes.

2.  Place blueberries in a blender or food processor with half and half.  Blend or process until very smooth (allowing any steam to escape from blueberries by keeping the feed tube out of the processor or keeping the lid slightly off the blender).  Remove and place in a wide freezer-proof container (like a square pyrex).  Stir in heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Chill for 4-6 hours or overnight.  (To ensure the mixture is super chilled, which is imperative, you can take a cup or so of the ice cream base and freeze it.  When ready to make the ice cream, stir the frozen “ice cube” into the base until melted.

3.  Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Mine took about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately for a soft serve texture or transfer to a container and freeze for a harder texture.  (Let soften a few minutes before scooping.)

 

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Cream Pie

So I have been entertaining like a madwoman lately.  It seems that once spring hits, the pace of life quickens even beyond its normal speed.  Family comes back north, end of the year activities are rolling, and we all climb out of winter’s woodwork and feel more free to invite friends over on a whim.  It makes for a lot of fun nights (and some not so fun mornings), but I will say that my brain starts to lose a bit of focus when I am planning so much stuff (actually, that might also have to do with those not so fun mornings).

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Case in point:  I had planned to make a chocolate cream pie for dessert the other night and forgot to buy chocolate wafers for the crust.   I am not sure how I missed it, but I am thinking it occurred between the time my two year old dropped his bagel and I realized I had forgotten to buy lemons and limes.  (Note to self:  when you realize you have forgotten one thing on your list, that might be a good time to actually check for other things you have forgotten, rather than just staring at the words brainlessly.)

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So, I get home and realize I have no chocolate wafers.  Oh well.  Not that big of a deal, I’ll just make a graham cracker crust.  I reach for the box of graham crackers and instantly knew that there was not one graham cracker in that box.  Yep, just a shell and an empty wrapper.  (Thanks kids.)  So, on to Plan C — which I was coming to realize would have to involve something a little wacky.  After passing over the stale Wheat Chex leftover from making party mix, I settled on Brown Rice Krispies.   I did a little searching and realized that rice krispie crusts have been done before, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I made a wonderful chocolate filling sweetened with agave nectar and flavored at the end with a bit of brandy.  And I crunched up some of that brown rice cereal, made a pretty standard crust, and then sealed it with some melted chocolate because I wasn’t sure if it would get soggy under the chocolate filling.  All in all, I would say it was a successful experiment.  We had eight people at the dinner table and there was only one tiny piece left over.  Actually, there were two pieces, but I ate one piece for lunch the next day.  Don’t tell anyone.

So, here you go.  A somewhat healthier version of chocolate cream pie — mostly agave sweetened, 2% milk (which made me feel better when I topped it with whipped cream), and a brown rice crust.  Seriously, I meant to do it this way.

(I should add that if you wanted to make a version with no sugar at all, you could use unsweetened chocolate and just up the agave a bit.)

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Cream Pie

Serves 8

Crust:
4 cups of Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (available in our natural foods section)
1/2 cup of butter (one stick), melted
1/3 cup of sugar (could also use agave or honey if you like)
3 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted

Filling:
1/2 cup of agave nectar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/2 t salt
4 egg yolks
3 cups of milk (I used 2% and it was great)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 T butter
1-2 T brandy (could skip it and just use some vanilla extract if you like)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream (and sugar/sweetener to taste)
Extra chocolate for chocolate shavings (if you like)

1.  In a medium saucepan, whisk together the agave nectar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until there are no little lumps remaining.  Add in the 3 cups of milk and whisk well to combine.  Turn on heat to medium low and bring to boil, whisking very frequently.  When it comes to the boil, let it simmer for about one minute as it gets very thick.  Whisk constantly at this point so it doesn’t curdle.  Remove from heat.

2.  Stir in 6 oz. of chopped chocolate, 2 T butter, and 1-2 T brandy.  Whisk every few minutes until chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Strain the filling into a bowl through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.  (If yours is perfectly lump-free, or if you enjoy lumps, skip this step.)  Place a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling so a skin doesn’t form.  Chill for about an hour.

3.  Make crust by first crushing or processing the rice cereal into crumbs.  I thought it would be good to leave them more whole for the crunch, so I only smashed them up a bit.  Mix rice crumbs with melted butter and sugar and press into a deep dish pie pan or springform pan.  Freeze for 15 minutes.

4.  Drizzle melted chocolate (3 oz.) over the chilled crust and spread it around the best you can using a pastry brush.  If the crust is not cold enough, the crumbs will mix with the chocolate.  But you should be able to spread it pretty evenly and up the sides of the crust.  Place back in freezer for another 10-15 minutes (or even until filling is cool.)

5.  Whip one cup of cream until stiff peaks form.

6.  When filling is cooled, pour into crust and spread evenly.  Top with dollops of whipped cream (or pipe using a pastry bag and decorating tips) and sprinkle chocolate shavings all over the top.

7.  Refrigerate the pie for at least four hours before serving.  (Not sure if I would do it a full day ahead, though, because the crust might get soggy.  Try it out and let me know.)

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