Experiments in ice cream
Summer fun – houseguests, festivals, travel – have kept me from foodblogging for the past couple of weeks, and also made me miss a couple of weeks at the market. I made up for the latter yesterday with a market run that netted summer squash, turnips, lemon cucumbers, a fistful of fiery cayenne peppers, a big white onion, poppyseed cake, smoked bacon – and a mixed half-flat of berries: blueberries, raspberries (I still can’t get enough) and two varieties of blackberry, including intensely sweet Hoods (which grow on virtually thornless canes, making for scratch-free harvesting).
I’ve been craving ice cream, and a serendipitous Livejournal entry by a friend in Califormia gave me two inspirations: Blackberry puree, and (no, really) oatmeal ice cream.
Hm. Blackberries and oats: That, plus some sweetening, is my basic recipe for a very tasty blackberry crisp. The thought of turning those flavors and textures into ice cream … hmmmm …
Lacking an actual recipe, I improvised, using ingredients on hand and a variation on the the basic cooked-custard French Vanilla ice cream recipe that came with my Donvier ice cream maker (the sort with a cylinder that sits in the freezer just waiting for the ice cream impulse to strike, and requires no laborious churning – just a few turns of the paddle and it’s done).
Even using reduced-fat milk, the oatmeal provides a lush, silken texture that’s absolutely decadent. With plenty of cinnamon and a vein of deep purple berry goodness running through it, this is a fabulous summer-time ice cream. You could probably even pass it off as a healthy(ish) alternative to regular ice cream, although “healthy” is not one of my concerns when I want ice cream.
The oatmeal does give this ice cream a good deal of texture. People who, like me, love oatmeal will probably like it. People who find chewy ice cream off-putting may not – but it strikes me that you could run the cooked custard through a food processor and get it close to silky smooth, if you liked, before proceeding to freeze it.
Oatmeal ice cream with a blackberry swirl
- 2 cups milk (I normally use whole milk for ice cream, but I had 2 percent in the fridge; in this recipe, there’s no loss of creamyness.)
- 1/2 cup raw oats (I like steel-cut Scottish oats, but regular old Quaker oats would be fine. Just don’t use the instant stuff)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more, to your taste. I used about a tablespoon, but I really like cinnamon).
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups cream or half-and-half (I used 2 percent milk enriched with three-fourths of a cup of home-made creme fraiche).
- 1 pint fresh blackberries (reserve a few nice ones for garnish)
- Sugar and/or fresh lemon juice (optional)
For optional topping:
- 2 Tbsp raw oats, toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant and golden-brown. Careful not to let it burn!
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
In a lidded saucepan, combine milk and salt; bring to a boil. Add oats and cinnamon, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. When cool, beat eggs and sugar into the oatmeal. Return to burner, cooking over a low heat and stirring constantly until the mixture is thick and creamy enough to coat the back of the spoon. Cool, then add cream and vanilla. Refrigerate several hours to overnight.
When thoroughly chilled, pour mixture into your ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Meanwhile, heat the blackberries in a small saucepan, breaking up with a wooden spoon, just until they begin to disintegrate and give up their juice. Press through a sieve set over a small bowl to remove seeds, pressing with a wooden spoon to get all the blackberry goodness. You should end up with an all but seedless blackberry puree. Taste; if too tart, add a little sugar; if too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Don’t be surprised if the puree gets quite thick; blackberries are packed with natural pectins.
When the ice cream is mostly frozen (scoopable but not hard), transfer to a lidded freezer container with a bit of extra space: spoon in a layer of ice cream, add some of the berry puree and continue alternating, running a spoon or spatula through the mixture a couple of times. Your goal is not a uniform blend, but ice cream with veins of berry running through it. Return to freezer for at least two hours to ripen. (Note: If, as I did, you use reduced fat milk instead of cream, the ice cream may freeze up too hard to scoop. Just let it sit outside the freezer for a few minutes before serving, or give it a few 10-second bursts in the microwave).
When ready to serve, mix the toasted oats with the brown sugar; place a scoop (or two!) of ice cream into a dish, sprinkle on some of the oat/brown sugar topping and crown with a perfect blackberry.
Makes a little over over a quart of ice cream. Share it with friends.