Sunday, May 1, 2011

cranberry ice cream (with wine poached pears)

OK, so I know that this photo really highlights those beautiful pears, blood red after being poached in red wine, but I have to admit, I didn't make them. My friend Marc did, and yes, they were delicious. But I brought some cranberry ice cream to go along with them, and if you take a look you can see a little scoop of that too, and that's what I want to talk about.

I actually had a fairly difficult time getting a recipe for cranberry ice cream that looked good. I wanted to use fresh cranberries, I wanted to leave out the eggs (I just can't get up the courage to try a custard-based ice cream again, and I also don't like that it wastes so many egg whites, although I guess I could just bake pavlovas or something), and I wanted to add some orange zest.

I did not find a single recipe that met those requirements, but I've discovered that it's pretty easy to bluff an ice cream recipe. If you've got some milk, cream, sugar and flavorings, you can probably just throw all of it in the ice cream maker and it'll do its thing.

In this instance, I cooked a bag of cranberries with a half a cup of sugar, some water and the zest of a small orange until the berries started to break down. After about ten minutes of cooking on medium high heat, I strained the berries out. I chilled the remaining liquid and mixed it with half a cup of orange juice, two cups of milk and a cup of cream. This went into the ice cream maker to churn for the standard half hour. Right at the end I mixed in the reserved cranberries, which added an extra shot of tart berry flavor, their bright red color studding the pale pink ice cream.

This was not a very sweet ice cream, but I really wanted to highlight the cranberry's natural tartness. I know that this isn't a real recipe, but if you want to keep things sweet I'd suggest adding a more substantial amount of sugar. Otherwise, you'll get a very refreshing ice cream with a nice citrus-y kick. This was definitely a very nice way to use cranberries, so keep it in mind next time they are back in stores.

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