This is it. Culinary nirvana.
If I followed the usual adage, “quit while you’re ahead,” I would never step into a kitchen again. Not after making Strawberry Ice Cream from the 1987 vintage Ben & Jerry’s cookbook. It is probably the best thing I have ever made. But I am neither a gambler nor a professional athlete, so I won’t be quitting just yet.
This is a really delicious sweet cream ice cream. It’s not a custard base, and so it’s supremely easy to make. The recipe calls for a no-cook ice cream, but I changed it up a little. I heated the milk and added it to the eggs to bring them to 180-degrees (an appropriate temp for killing little buggies if there are any). You can do this as a truly no-cook, but I was a little wiggy about it so I heated it. But I did not cook the base in the usual way. So I still think of it as a no-cook ice cream.
I also used fresh-picked strawberries. This is really important. Woody grocery store berries that taste like cardboard won’t do here.
Homemade ice cream is really divine, and each time I make it I wonder why I don’t make it more often. I use an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer, and I just keep the bowl and dasher in the freezer all the time so it’s ready when I want to use it.
Here’s what I did, following Ben and Jerry’s instructions with only one change (to heat the eggs a little, as this is an uncooked ice cream base):
Sweet Cream Base:
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
The Strawberry Goodness:
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 c. sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
First, I made the sweet cream base.
Aren’t the cookbook illustrations great? They’re perfect vintage B & J style.
Okay. I started with two eggs.
I beat the eggs by hand with a whisk until they were lighter in color and fluffy. This took 2 minutes.
I then added the sugar, a little at a time, and beat again with a wire whisk until it became thick and fell in ribbons from the whisk. This took another 2 minutes.
I then heated the milk and cream until they just barely began to bubble. Boiling is not the goal here. You want it to be just shy of boiling.
Whisk the hot liquid into the egg mixture gradually, one ladle-full at a time. You don’t want scrambled eggs here, so the idea is to raise the temperature of the eggs slowly and keep them moving.
Once the base was finished, I let it cool and then covered it with plastic wrap and stashed it in the refrigerator. The base needs to be good and cold when it goes into the churn. I let mine sit for two full hours.
While the base was cooling, I got on with the rest. I hulled and sliced the berries. I like big chunks of strawberries in my ice cream, in true Ben & Jerry’s style. I kept my slices on the large side. If you like smaller bits, go smaller with the berries.
Mix the berries with the sugar and the lemon juice, cover, and stash it in the fridge for at least an hour.
I followed the instructions for a “chunkier” ice cream. I strained the berries into the base, making a delightfully pink liquid. I then held the berries to the side to be added later. For a less chunky ice cream, you would just mix the whole berry mash into the base.
Ice cream base, into the ice cream maker. I poured mine into my KitchenAid mixer attachment and set the dasher a-churnin’.
When it was nearly done, I added the strawberry slices.
When it was done, I pulled out the dasher and loaded the ice cream into a container. When you make homemade ice cream, it isn’t quite fully set when it emerges from the machine. It will have a soft serve consistency. It needs to “ripen” in the freezer for several hours to be ready to eat.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t lick the bowl.
I did. And that’s when I found it. Nirvana. So much greater than the sum of its parts. And so easy to make. Almost ridiculously so.
Peace, love, and ice cream.