This past weekend we drove over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast to go berry picking. It was an ideal morning for it -- the fog hadn't entirely lifted so it was still cool, and it was early enough that there were only a few other people out in the brambles with us. Picking berries is addictive: you pick a few pounds and talk about wrapping it up, but then there is the perfect berry, and the next perfect berry, and the next... and before you know it there are 10 pounds of blackberries piled into your baskets, another 2 in your stomach, and a nice purple hue on your fingers and tongue.
This blackberry ice cream recipe is exceptional. It is officially my new favorite flavor. The trick to the deep uniform color and the rich, luscious texture is to puree and strain the berries so you have lots of blackberry flavor, but no seeds. You can make extra puree (and if you have 10 pounds, it only makes sense) and freeze it for a later batch, or you can freeze your berries on trays, bag them in freezer bags and use them later. If you don't have access to fresh berries, you can also purchase frozen berries, defrost them and follow the same recipe. But man oh man, fresh blackberries are out of this world here. This recipe was originally for raspberries, so you could go with those, too.
I looked around at recipes for a long time before deciding on David Lebovitz’s Raspberry Ice Cream from his book, The Perfect Scoop, but with blackberries instead of raspberries. I thought about making some changes because blackberries may be slightly more sour than raspberries -- but I didn't and I'm glad.
The cookie you see in the photo at the top is a relative of the palmier -- it's called langes de boeuf, and it is basically a very thin palmier that has become caramel-y due to the addition of sugar into the cookie as it is rolled thin. It bakes into a delicious, crisp, delicate cookie that pairs beautifully with ice cream. Check out my recipe and directions for making langes de boeuf.
The Most-Perfect Blackberry Ice-Cream
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz’s, The Perfect Scoop
3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cups plus 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1½ cups strained blackberry puree (place 3 - 4 cups blackberries in the blender, blend til pureed. Pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with your fingers as needed, to remove seeds).
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Warm the milk and 3/4 cup cream and sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Pour the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk/cream into the egg yolks, while whisking. Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula -- this is the 'custard'.
- Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the blackberry puree and lemon juice.
- Cool over an ice bath by placing the bowl you are using into a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Stir the ice cream mixture to facilitate quicker cooling.
- Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Usually it is recommended to chill an ice cream base 8 hours or overnight, but 3 - 4 hours is fine here, and preferred so as to preserve the fresh taste of the blackberries.
- Churn in your ice cream maker as directed. I haven't tried this, but here's a non-ice cream maker idea that utilizes a hand mixer to make ice cream (I saw this in the Aug/Sept 2011 issue of Saveur magazine): Freeze the ice cream base in a bowl. Every 2 hours as it freezes, take it out of the freezer and mix it with the hand mixer on medium speed to break up ice crystals. This will make a chunkier ice cream -- it's worth a try!