Here we go again. More accurately, here goes the GW2 recipe collection again, Obi-Wan’ing me into storming out of the house, to the next store and back home with bulging bags. Someone over there just had to pick the one type of ice cream I could never resist and put it down at the Chef’s Guild. Blueberries… Chocolate… I need a moment to collect myself… Mind control blows when you’re at the recieving end! And the major dishwashing-marathon after what might, to an innocent bystander, have looked like an exploded dish cabinet after a pack of wild boars rampaged through, really, really blows. Well, at least what came out of the mess was one absolutely divine batch of Blueberry & Chocolate Chips Ice Cream.
This is the culprit, the recipe not only tickling my subconscious in all the right places, but also the one that instantly made me roll up my sleeves and get to work, facing one of the things I had been avoiding to deal with for the last couple of years.
The wonderful world of ice creams… a world only partially accessible to me for a long time. Sure, sorbets, popsicles and parfaits are easy to make without an ice cream maker or other fancy gadgets, but making a soft, creamy, yumlicious ice cream without special gizmos is a horse of a different color. Researching possible techniques made the interwebs cough up some ah…interesting? results, some involving the obvious dry ice, some using suspicious chemicals requiring all sorts of special permits and one particularly bizarre one listed honey, vinegar, lighter fluid and … body bags – I stopped reading at that point – and a couple of other things I couldn’t put to use either. Figuring that path would get me nowhere, I tackled the problem from a different angle. I’ve been making parfaits from time to time, quite successfully so, and decided to try and see what happened when I simply adjusted my base recipe to make the result a creamier one. It worked out wonderfully in the end, although I suspect an ice cream maker would do the job a little better at around a quarter of the effort and mess.
The Ice Cream Base
This is a classic base recipe for all things cold and fluffy, parfaits and mousses for example, providing the stable, fluffy texture these things are known for.
5 Large Eggyolks – Since the eggs are not really cooked through entirely, make sure they are as fresh as they come, food safety and all that jazz
150g Fine Caster Sugar
1 Tbsp Liquid Glucose
1) Place a heavy-based pot on medium heat.
2) Add the sugar and the water, and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Stir once or twice to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom or the sides of the pot.
3) Set the temperature to medium-high and bring the liquid to a rapid boil.
4) Once it’s merrily bubbling, keep your distance and let it do its thing for 5-7 min. As with a normal caramel, the sound the popping bubbles make changes once the liquid gets close to where you need it to be – it goes from normal, boiling water sounds to something resembling the sound of thick, foamy soap bubbles bursting, a really – for lack of a better word – “wet” sound. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it.
5) Meanwhile, place the eggyolks in a heatproof mixing bowl.
6) Use a handheld electric whisk-o-matic to beat the yolks until they’re pale yellow, fluffy and creamy.
7) Check on the syrup, if it’s making those wet popping noises and shows just a hint of light-caramel brown around the edges, it’s ready.
8) Set the electric beaters to medium-high speed and slowly trickle the still piping hot syrup into the eggs in a steady stream, incorporating it into the eggy fluff as you go.
9) Once you’ve added the syrup, increase the speed to max and keep going until the mixture noticably increases in volume and turns into a thick and creamy foam.
10) Set the base aside to cool off to room temperature and move on to the berries.
550g unsweetened frozen Blueberries
The Ice Cream Base – see above
Opt: 100g sugar-free/-reduced Blueberry Jam for swirls
1 Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp Honey
½ Lemon, Juice
30-50g 70%+ Dark Chocolate Drops
1) Thaw the blueberries. By the way, the „unsweetened“ and „sugar-free“ doesn’t sprout from my ever -present desire to relentlessly mow down calories left, right and center. You’ve just cooked a bunch of eggs by dousing them with a large amount of boiling sugar – if you’d add more sugar to whe whole deal the blueberry flavors wouldn’t stand a snowballs chance in hell to break through all that sweetness. Sickly sweet, purple frozen eggs & cream, that’s the likely outcome. Been there, done that…
2) Place them in a pot big enough to hold them all and add the salt, lemon juice and the honey.
3) Bring them to a gentle simmer and stir from time to time to distribute the honey and dissolve the salt.
4) Let them simmer for 5-8 mins, then take the pot off the heat and set it aside for 10-15 mins to cool off a bit.
5) Give the berries a thorough whizz with a stick blender, you want them puréed as finely as possible. During my first attempt at this one, I tried to remove any and all biteable bits of the skins and seeds by straining the purée through a sieve before moving on, but the result of that idea was a complete lack of any blueberry flavors in the ice cream. I tried compensating that by adding blueberry jam but that messed up the texture. The attempt to remedy that one with additional beaten eggwhites naturally went south as well, creating a still flavorless solid block of frozen purple… something – something that, thanks to the eggwhites, thawed into a grainy liquid which neither of us wanted to eat. So, unless you want to resort to artificial flavors or extracts, whizz the berries, skins and all, as finely as possible and accept the occasional seed or flake of skin in the ice cream.
6) Have a taste of the blueberry purée in your bowl. Now, even though I’ve been using the same brand of frozen blueberries for years, they almost never taste exactly the same, never present me with the same level of intensity. While they actually develop their flavor quite a bit in combination with the cream and the sugar in the ice cream base, you can roughly guesstimate at this point whether they may need a little help out of the blueberry jam jar. Just a little warning though, adding blueberry jam or preserves, while boosting the flavor a bit, changes the texture, pushes it a little more towards the popsicle, watery side of things. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’d advise you to use that one as a last resort failsafe.
7) Place the bowl in the fridge while you move on to the cream.
8) Make sure the cream is well chilled, otherwise it might not stiffen up.
9) Use a handheld electric mixer set to full-whirr-ahead and beat the cream until soft peaks stand at attention when you pull out the whisks. Try not to overbeat it, if it turns out too stiff, you’re going to have a hard time incorporating it into the mix later.
10) Place the bowl back in the fridge for a couple of minutes.
11) Line a 25cm loaf tin with 2 layers of clingfilm. Let sides hang out and over the rim of the tin – that way you can use them to cover the ice cream later.
12) Time to bring together the contents of all those bowls – take it slow, one step at a time, and gently fold them together until they are well combined after each addition. Preserving all those pretty air bubbles trapped in sugar and cream is the key to success at this point.
13) Retrieve the bowl holding the ice cream base and slowly pour in the blueberry purée near the rim of the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold the two components into eachother.
14) Once those two are blended into one – a few yellow or purple streaks here and there don’t matter at this point, but it should be close to an even blend – fold in the cream, just as slowly and carefully.
15) This time keep at it until everything is well incorporated and you’re looking at a pretty, purple, smooth and fluffy ice cream mixture.
16) Slowly pour the mix into the loaf tin in „layers“, sprinkling in the chocolate chips as evenly distributed as possible between them. The mixture is firm enough to keep them in place if everything went according to plan – folding the chocolate in with the other components before pouring everything into the tin did not work out well when I tried going down that road – all the chunks gathered up in one thick layer at the bottom of the tin…
17) Pop the tin into the freezer for about 6-8 hours, until it’s firm and frozen all the way through.
18) Move it out of the freezer into the fridge about 10 mins before serving, that way it softens just a little bit, just enough for your ice cream scoop to roll it up into pretty globes. If you plan on serving it up as a parfait, carefully dip the tin’s bottom into warm water and then turn it out on a platter with the help of the clingfilm flaps you can use for leverage. Unwrap the block once it’s on the platter and place it in the fridge for around 10 mins to be soft enough to be immediately attacked by dessert spoons.
As you might have noticed, this no-ice-cream-maker-workaround was a long term trial-and-error experiment of about 3 or 4 rounds, but now that I’ve gone through with it to the end, I’m truly (exhausted) happy with the result and somewhat proud of myself for a) developing this from scratch and b) not throwing my utensils and bowls out of the window in the process. I think I would have stopped after the second round, but hubby kept giving me that beaten-puppy look whenever I was throwing another hissy fit in the kitchen at yet another failed experiment, ranting about never EVER touching blueberries (as if…) or ice cream again…