Note from Sarah: Today's entry is a guest blog by Nathan's mom, Tenli. She posted some absolutely mouthwatering photos of homemade ice cream on facebook earlier, and I was so impressed. Even though lots of food blogs frequently feature ice cream making, it still seems like an impossibly daunting proposition to me. I was so impressed with her blackberry ice cream that I insisted Tenli post a guest blog entry explaining the process. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!
Nathan's brother Weston, age 15, is an avid and creative cook, particularly skilled in the dessert area. He and I had been searching for a cooking class to take together since his birthday in October. Last weekend, we finally had our chance: Ice Cream 101 at Sur La Table in San Francisco. In the hands on class, we were introduced to the concept of "French style" ice creams, which are custard based. Weston and I participated enthusiastically in class, making four different kinds of ice cream, as well as chocolate and strawberry sauces, and of course eating them all. We came home to Oakland with the recipes from our class, a gorgeous red Cuisinart ice cream machine, and "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz. The next morning, as I stumbled around the house still logey from my ice cream hangover, it came to me: "Hair of the dog!" Off I went to get the ingredients for my first solo batch of Lemon Curd - Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream with Blackberry Sauce.
Our teacher, Sara Lodick, reminded us at the start that the best ice cream is made from the best and freshest ingredients, and, with that in mind, I splurged on Strauss Family Creamery organic dairy products from Marshall, California. The lemons and blackberries came from the local Sunday farmer's market. Pretty much everything else was already in my pantry, and I was good to go.
For the blackberry swirl part of the ice cream, I began by boiling the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and a small amount of light corn syrup in a small saucepan until they generated a fairly thick, deep purple sauce. I strained the liquid and set it to chill while I prepared the lemon ice cream. In a larger saucepan, I combined cream, milk, and sugar with some extra special vanilla extract from Mexico, and just barely scalded the mixture, turning off the heat when the merest hint of a skin formed on the surface of the liquid. In a metal bowl, I whisked together eight egg yolks with 3/4 cup of sugar, then added lemon juice and grated lemon peel. Finally, I combined the two mixtures together, slowly adding the liquid to the egg mixture with a ladle so as not to curdle the ggs. (I really missed Weston at this point -- ideally, this would be a two person operation.) Next, I put the metal bowl over a double boiler and stirred it over boiling water until it began to thicken. I fed the custard base through a strainer, and put the strained custard over a bowl of ice to chill quickly, then put it in the fridge to cool down further. The recipe said to cover and refrigerate overnight -- but in class, we did it in a couple of hours, so I knew it would be fine if I rushed things a bit!
While the custard was cooling its heels, I combined blackberries, more sugar, and more lemon juice in a bowl and let them stand for an hour or two, stirring every now and then. Over time, the lemon juice and sugar broke down the berries into a distillation of pure blackberry sweetness that would later be the sauce for our dessert.
Later that day, while eating a delicious grilled dinner out in the garden, the ice cream maker did all the work of turning my custard into fabulous lemony ice cream, which I then layered in a loaf pan with the blackberry swirl mixture, and returned to the freezer for another hour or so. Scooping into the layers produced a mouthwatering swirl of pale lemon and purple blackberry which was then drizzled with indigo sauce and a couple of ultra sweet blackberries. When we finally got to eat dessert, there were moans of pleasure all around.
- Guest entry by Tenli, Nathan's Mom. Thanks to Sarah for inviting me to share this experience.