I Melt With You is a new ice cream column from The Takeout. I’ll be here all summer with new ice cream recipes, unique ingredients, equipment recommendations, and ways to make your home ice cream experience as easy and fun as possible. I am always up for a challenge, so feel free to send flavor requests to email@example.com. If you want to see some of the flavors I have been developing for you, feel free to pop over to my IG @stacey.ballis and scroll back for some serious ice cream content.
What do I need to get started?
Welcome back to I Melt With You, your source for hot takes on cool desserts and everything related to ice cream that is floating around my addled brain. By now, I hope you have explored how easy it is to make a simple no-churn ice cream and set yourself up with a good ice cream maker.
Now, it’s time to churn! As I’ve mentioned before, my passion for ice cream is second only to my laziness, so if you are looking to geek out on super-complicated science-intensive recipes that involve the tempering of eggs or the acquisition of specialty items like glucose syrup and commercial stabilizers, you are going to be wildly disappointed. This column is about how you, in your very own kitchen, with easily available ingredients, can churn ice cream that can stand up against any super-premium pint from the store or scoop shop.
That is not to say I won’t be recommending some incredible ingredients that might require sourcing from gourmet shops or ordering online. But I will always give you options you can acquire at the grocery store and will absolutely tell you when and why to invest in the other stuff. You will also note that these recipes are given in both weight and volume measurements. I cannot recommend enough that you invest in a kitchen scale for baking and cooking. Shifting to weighing ingredients will make your cooking much more precise and your results consistent.
Recipes will often have a “Next Level” optional ingredient or two, usually a mix-in, that will allow you to take that ice cream to a seriously insane place of max deliciousness.
Finally, almost all of the recipes I’ll be sharing here will require an ice cream maker. They are scaled to be used in the smaller one-and-a-half-quart units that are common for home churners; the finished volume will depend on how much air your machine adds, but you’ll always get between a generous quart and a full quart-and-a-half of ice cream per batch. If you like to do math, you should be able to scale them up for a two-quart machine. Any of them can be doubled to make two batches, but I would not multiply up any more than that.
And now, on to the main event!
How to make the best strawberry ice cream
Summer is finally here, and in this magical warm and breezy season my thoughts always turn to strawberries.
I mean, they also turn to artichokes and asparagus, but neither of those make for particularly delicious ice cream. Or do they...? Hmmm. I digress.
Strawberry ice cream might be one of the best things you can make in early summer, as fresh berries hit the stores and local farmers markets in all of their jeweled glory. But even with the freshest ripest berries, it can be hard to get really punchy strawberry flavor. A lot of commercial ice creams use concentrates, purees, and extracts to put the strawberry front and center.
But we’re going to make things a lot easier by simply roasting the strawberries to remove some of the water (which will prevent iciness) and intensify the flavor. By roasting the berries with some sugar, we are ensuring that they’ll be sweet and delicious even if they’re slightly underripe supermarket berries. The sugar and the juices that it draws out of the berries during the roasting process create a wonderful syrup that also helps to flavor the ice cream.
You will notice that there is crème fraîche in this ice cream. If that’s not available, you can substitute sour cream. This tart base note works wonderfully well to balance the sweetness of the strawberries. If you like it even tangier, you can swap out all or part of the regular milk for buttermilk.
You’ll also see that there’s chocolate in this recipe, although it’s not a “chocolate” ice cream. Don’t worry, it’s not a mistake. Instead, it’s the first bit of alchemy that allows us to make an amazing ice cream with no eggs. The richness of the chocolate replaces the richness of the egg yolks, and the structure helps to make the ice cream smooth and silky. As we continue to explore ice creams together, you will find that almost all of my bases include some sort of chocolate product. In fruit flavors like this, or other flavors where we don’t want actual chocolate flavor, we’ll use either white chocolate, the most neutral-tasting of all chocolates, or a style of milk or dark chocolate that enhances the final flavor.
In this case there are two alternate options to white chocolate. The first is ruby chocolate. This naturally pink chocolate product is really interesting to work with, and is now available fairly broadly. It has strong fruity notes that pair really well with any red fruit or berry flavor you make.
Or, if you want a real flavor boost, check out the Inspirations line from Valrhona. These products are amazing, and I love using them in ice cream because the flavors are really natural and they work like a charm to boost flavor. They come in Strawberry, Raspberry, Yuzu, Passionfruit, and Almond flavors, and if you are planning on making any of these flavors of ice cream, it’s worth the investment. Bonus? They are dairy free, and can be swapped 1:1 for any chocolate in any recipe.
Pretty In Pink
Makes about 1½ quarts
For the roasted strawberries:
1 lb. (454 g) fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
2 Tbsp. (25 g) granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it around)
Mix the berries with the sugar, and then spread in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The berries will slump a bit, but retain their shape, and get glossed with the syrup. Remove berries in their syrup to a container and store in the fridge.
For the ice cream:
1½ cups (360 g) heavy cream
½ cup (120 g) whole milk (or buttermilk if you love it super tangy)
¼ cup (60 g) crème fraîche or sour cream
2 Tbsp. (30 g) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. (40 g) mild-flavored honey
2 Tbsp. (12 g) milk powder
2 Tbsp. (20 g) vodka (Note: this helps keep the ice cream from freezing too hard. If you prefer to not include any alcohol, you will want to let the frozen ice cream sit out an extra 5-10 minutes before scooping for optimal texture.)
1/2 tsp. (3 g) vanilla extract or vanilla paste
pinch fine sea salt
1 (8-oz.) jar strawberries in syrup, drained and halved, syrup reserved (I prefer Fragola Fabbri), or
Heat cream with the chocolate in microwave for about 2 minutes to create a fast ganache in a microwave-safe bowl or container. I do this in a plastic Tupperware container big enough to blend the full recipe in to save on dishes (see: laziness outlined above). Blend with immersion blender or in regular blender to perfect smoothness. Add the rest of the ice cream ingredients and blend again. The milk powder will want to clump, so keep a lookout for that. Add the roasted strawberries and all of their juices and mix with the blender until well combined and smooth.
Once the mixture is well blended, taste to be sure you like the balance of flavors. If it’s not sweet enough for you, or a flavor is not coming through well, add more of what you need. It should be intensely flavored, because flavors grow more muted once they freeze. When it tastes right, pour the mixture into a sealed container and chill to cure the flavor, 6-24 hours. It should be very chilled before you start churning.
Churn according to machine directions. Fold in the jarred strawberries or morsels if using. Transfer to storage containers and freeze for minimum 8 hours or overnight for best texture.
Next Level Notes
Adding a mix-in of candied strawberries will give you both amazing visual and textural contrast, with little pockets of intense strawberry boost. The strawberries in syrup are so saturated in the sugar that they will not freeze solid, so you don’t have to worry about icy tooth-breaking nuggets. Be forewarned, the only brand I know is Fregola Fabbri, and it is not inexpensive, so save this version for that special-occasion churn. Be sure to reserve the leftover syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. It has amazing strawberry flavor, and the next time you make strawberry ice cream, you can swap out the honey for strawberry syrup to amplify the strawberriness.
Another fun option, especially for kids, is to grab a bag of the new Nestlé Morsels and More Strawberries and Cream. This bag contains white chocolate chips, little chewy strawberry nuggets, and graham crackers. If you love a chunky ice cream with little surprises throughout, this is the mix-in for you!