Strawberry Balsamic Ice cream

Strawberry Balsamic ice cream could be a top contender for my "Valentine's Day Flavor"....if Valentine's Day fell in the summer.  And not just because the ice cream comes out a pretty dark pink color (though that is 90 % of my reasoning).  
Admittedly, strawberry used to be my last pick when offered the Neapolitan options of cheap, fluffy, wooden-spoon ice cream at end-of-the-year school picnics.  I would make an effort to run to the line fast enough to be able to choose something good.  Like chocolate.  Then vanilla, if I had to.  

But I thought I'd try again as a "grown-up" and I found this ice cream to be an entirely different creature.  Using real strawberries and real cream certainly helps.  The balsamic adds a welcome shading to the childhood summer classic.  It brings out the sweetness of the berries while adding a deeper layer to the potentially cloying and naive.  It is simple and rich and perfect for the shortening days of the season--pure celebration of the last summer fruit with a hint of roasted darkness.   It is light-hearted and adult, straightforward and a touch enigmatic.  And pink.

I've made a version of the extremely simple recipe (4 ingredients! no custard!) from Frozen Desserts before, but this time I took Kevin from Closet Cooking's the brilliant idea of roasting the berries, which really amps it up. I cut back on the sugar and added a little lemon and pepper to add  brightness and complexity.

  • 1 lb of strawberries (frozen works, too if you want to do it in February)
  • 2 T of nice balsamic vinegar
  • generous 1/2 C of superfine sugar
  • 10 T of heavy cream (1/2 C plus 2 T)
  • smallest sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
  • tiniest drop of lemon juice

Clean and dry the strawberries.  Mix them in a bowl with the sugar and vinegar.  If you are using fresh berries, bruise them up a little.  Let sit in the fridge for 30 min. or longer to give the flavors time to merge.  Pour the mixture into a small baking dish and roast for about 20 minutes in a preheated 450° oven, stirring once or twice.  Pour into a bowl, reserving the liquid and chill in the fridge for a couple hours.  Puree the mixture in a blender.  I like some chunks, so I just pulse until it looks how I like it.  But it's up to you.  Stir in the very cold cream, pepper and lemon juice.  Transfer to an ice-cream maker and do what the machine's directions tell you.  When it's done, put it in a container covered with a piece of wax paper and pop it in the freezer for a little while before eating.

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