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.