Saturday, July 2, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream

I have an over productive rhubarb plant.

You may have noticed by the abundance of recipes featuring rhubarb such as this one, and this one.  I don't know for sure, but I would guess I have about 20 cups of rhubarb in my freezer right now.  I'm not complaining, mind you.  It freezes well, and it's always a nice treat in the middle of winter.

I had intended to make a pie.  I kept planning to make a pie "that night," and then something would come up.  It doesn't take a lot to distract me from making a pie, though.  I fear pie.  Too much can, and usually does, go wrong.  I've gotten a lot better over the past year or so, but there was a long string of pies that came out wrong.  Really, really wrong.  It's a crust problem.  The crust is either too thick and stays raw, or too thin and gets soggy.  Sometimes it all breaks off of the edges.  Once all the top crust sunk to the bottom of the pie.  I'm not sure exactly how this happened, as it was a fruit pie and it seems impossible that the crust would travel THROUGH the fruit to get to the bottom.  Perhaps there was a tiny wormhole in my oven.

Anyway, I'm a little tentative, and I've gotten really good at coming up with reasons why I can't make a pie.

The thing that prevented me from making the pie most recently was ice cream.  Specifically, we didn't have any!  And what's the point of rhubarb pie without vanilla ice cream?

Ice cream, at least the way I make it, takes about three days, so this was a very good stall technique.  I was personally quite proud of myself.

So I started making the ice cream.  Cooking of non-dinner items always gets the husband's attention:

Husband: What'cha making?
Me: Ice Cream.
Husband: Strawberry Ice Cream?

I paused.  We don't have an abundance of strawberries, but I have been picking about a cup or two a day.  Plus, I don't really like strawberry ice cream.  I mean, I'm not opposed to it, I just wouldn't ever pick it.  It seems dull to me, and I associate it with a fake strawberry flavor.  PLUS, I don't know if I want to admit to my master plan of making a pie.   The husband likes pie, and, as mentioned above, I don't make them very often...

Me: I wasn't planning on making strawberry ice cream.  Do you want strawberry ice cream?
Husband: It's my favorite.

I take the plunge.

Me: I was planning on making vanilla ice cream, and then making a rhubarb pie.  But I can make strawberry ice cream instead if you want.
Husband: Either sounds good.

HA!  Now I don't have to make a pie!!  YAY!!!!

I ended up not having quite enough strawberries to make strawberry ice cream, so I decided instead to make strawberry rhubarb ice cream.  It is SO good.  Not at all fake tasting (why would it be?  I didn't use anything fake) and not too sweet.  I may have to re-evaluate my stance on fruit ice cream.  I guess there are desserts that aren't chocolate that have value...

If you have lots and lots of free time, and don't fear pie crust the way I do, I think this would make an amazing ice-cream pie.  Just bake out a pie crust and fill it with the ice cream.  If anyone (mom) wants to make me an empty pie crust, I will make more and turn it into a pie!  In fact, I bet it would be good with a gram cracker crust too...

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream:
Total Time: about 1 to 3
Active time: 30 minutes
  • Two Cups Strawberries (L*)
  • 2 Cups Rhubarb, sliced into about 1/4 inch pieces (L*) (make sure they're not too big or they get weird when frozen)
  • 1/3 C + 4 tbsp honey (L)
  • Splash vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream (L)
  • 1 cup half and half (L)
  • 4 large egg yolks (L)
  • Pinch salt
Hull strawberries and slice in half.  Place in a medium bowl and mash with a fork or a potato masher.  I like chunks in my ice cream, but if you don't you could also use a food processor.  Mix with 2 tbsp honey and allow to sit for about 1 hour.

Place rhubarb into a medium sauce pan with 2 tbsp honey and a splash of vodka.  Cook on low for about an hour, until rhubarb is well broken down.  Again, if you want no chunks, you could put it into the food processor.  Allow rhubarb to cool.

Place rhubarb and strawberries into a large, heat proof bowl.  Rest bowl in an ice bath, and place a wire strainer on top of the bowl (this will get you all prepped for when your custard is done and you have no time!)

In a medium sauce pan, combine cream and half and half, and heat over medium low heat until bubbles just form around the edges.  Do not allow to boil.  Meanwhile, combine egg yolks, remaining honey, and salt in a large bowl and beat on high until yolks are pale yellow and double in size.  I recommend using a stand mixer for this, as you can do other things while the yolks are being beaten.  If you don't have a stand mixer, go buy one!  Or use a hand mixer.

Once eggs are whipped and milk is hot, slowly pour a small amount (1/4 to 1/2 a cup) of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly as you add it.  Then, slowly add the resulting egg/milk mixture back into the hot milk in the pan, again whisking constantly as you pour.  Cook this mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until it just thickens enough to coat the back of your spoon.  Remove the custard immediately, and pour through the strainer into the bowl with the fruit in the ice bath.  Stir constantly until cooled.  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on to the top of the custard and refrigerate for several hours, up to overnight.  The colder the custard is, the better it will freeze up.

Freeze the ice cream using your specific ice cream maker's directions.  At this point, I like to freeze the ice cream for another 24 hours before eating, because it's always so soft right after being made.

Ice cream is not hard.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, and for about 10 minutes it is, but mostly it's just waiting and not overcooking the custard.  Maybe I'll make a video on that, too.  Right after my omelet video...

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