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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Baseball + Strawberries = True Love

Tonight was Number One's final baseball game, with pizza party immediately following. Because our last name is in the second half of the alphabet, we were assigned to bring a dessert. For some reason it occurred to me, and I could not banish the notion, that I should bring homemade strawberry ice cream to this event. So I looked through my books, took a guess as to how many times I should multiply a one-quart recipe for my larger ice-and-salt freezer machine (one quart being woefully insufficient for 14 Little League players and their families), and went to it. I made the custard last night (the original recipe does not call for any cooking, but since I'm not supposed to be eating raw eggs, I took the extra step), picked up some fresh-picked Hood strawberries this morning, and had it finished and in the basement freezer to cure before I went to pick up Number One from school. It could have used more curing time (I discovered when I started scooping and the middle of the canister was still quite soft), but that would have meant picking up the berries earlier, which just wasn't happening this morning.

Here's the recipe for a one-quart maker (which includes most frozen-canister or internal-freezer ice cream makers), adapted from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream book:

Sweet Cream Base:
2 eggs
3/4 C sugar
2 C cream
1 C milk

Whisk eggs until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes), then gradually add sugar and mix until fully blended, light and smooth (another minute). Whisk in cream and milk (I used my KitchenAid for this, but I had to mix in the last bit of liquid by hand because I tripled the recipe and the top of the whisk attachment would have been submerged. As it turned out, 2 1/2 times the recipe probably would have been plenty, and I might have even been okay with 2 times). If you're going to cook/pasteurize it, put in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently (at the beginning) and then constantly (as it gets hot) until it reaches 180 degrees. You will need to do this part the night before so it can cool down to 40 degrees before you put it in the ice cream freezer.

Strawberry addition:

1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/3 C sugar
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt*
1 T vodka*

Mix all ingredients together, then let macerate for at least an hour. Next time I do it, I'll probably try for three or four. The original recipe calls for slicing before macerating and then mashing before mixing into the base; I diced, which probably would have worked great if I'd macerated longer. As it was the berries were just a tad icy. I used about half the called-for sugar, which was still plenty for my juicy and sweet Hoods. If you're using California berries with a firmer texture and blander flavor, use the whole amount. I used less lemon juice than this (after tripling) and regretted it, so use it all even though it sounds like quite a bit--I think it really needs the acidic punch to bring out the strawberry flavor. The last two ingredients I added based on a Cook's Illustrated recipe for peach ice cream, and they seemed like a good idea here as well. The salt just brings out the fruit flavor, and the vodka helps make a smoother, less icy ice cream. Certainly you couldn't detect it at all in the finished product.

When both the custard and the berries are fully chilled, mix them together (mashing the berries first if desired) and freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Sorry I don't have pictures for you tonight--I'm not 100% sure where my camera is at the moment. I'll try to take a picture when I eat the leftovers tomorrow, and add it to this post then.

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