For me, summer means big bowls of ice cream. I love making my own and getting creative with the flavors. But it can be hard to find time to make, chill, and then churn the custard. And for me at home, there’s also the small issue of not owning an ice cream maker.
So when I got a craving recently for fresh strawberry ice cream, I remembered a trick I used when I was working as a pastry chef and needed to make ice cream in a flash.
Take a plain, good-quality ice cream (I like Häagen-Dazs because it’s loaded with fat, which makes for a nice texture) and soften it just enough so you can fold in your own ingredients. Then refreeze until ready to serve. It works like a charm.
I picked about 2 cups of large, ripe strawberries and washed, cored, and cut them. Then I put them in a saucepan with a bit of strawberry jam and some water. Strawberries are naturally high in water so when they freeze, they become like red ice cubes. To keep them chewy when frozen, you need to saturate them with sugar, since sugar doesn’t freeze, so they remain soft (read more about that and other ice cream issues here). Instead of sugar, I use jam since it already has a high sugar content but is also based on the flavorful fruit. I cooked that until the berries were falling apart. Then I cooled it. See the pot on the left? That's it. I used about 1 cup of strawberry mix for 1 quart of ice cream.
Then I put the ice cream into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mixed it until smooth, and added the strawberry mixture.
What a lovely and natural pink shade.
Back it went into the same ice cream container to freeze again until firm, about an hour. A large scoop and a few tiny, fragrant fraises des bois strawberries that I stole, ahem, I mean borrowed from the test garden, and I had the perfect bowl of summer.
You can use this easy ice cream trick to customize your own flavors with any fruit or even chunks of brownies or swirls of softened peanut butter. Total time is about 30 minutes to make it and an hour to freeze. Better than store-bought but faster than made-from-scratch.