Recipe: Strawberry Ice Cream with Cacao Nibs

published Jul 5, 2007
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What says summer like fresh strawberry ice cream? We had the mix for this ice cream chilling in the fridge Tuesday night when we opened up the Times and saw that Melissa Clark agrees. She went on the hunt for a strawberry ice cream recipe that has swirls of fresh fruit but somehow avoids strawberries’ tendency to freeze into unpleasantly icy chunks. Her final version involves folding strawberries and their cooked syrup in at the last moment and eating immediately for that soft-serve, fresh strawberry texture.

But what if that’s not an option? What if you want to sneak spoonfuls of delicately creamy strawberry ice cream from the freezer for a few nights running?

This recipe solves Clark’s problem in a different way – we cook the berries with sugar and lemon juice, stewing out some of the water and concentrating their flavor. The resulting ice cream is full of strawberry with no ice in sight.

We also added a handful of cacao nibs to contrast against the sugary sweetness of custard and strawberries; their deep, slightly bitter cocoa crunch elevates this ice cream to our favorite so far this summer…

Strawberry Ice Cream with Cacao Nibs
about 2 quarts

4 cups half and half (or 2 cups cream and 2 cups whole milk)
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pound strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Kirsch or rum
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup cacao nibs

Whisk the the half and half together with the sugar in a 4 quart saucepan and heat just until bubbles form around the edges. Whisk the egg yolks thoroughly in a separate bowl and temper with about a cup of hot cream. Whisk then add back to the half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring steadily, until the custard reaches 170ºF and coats the back of a spoon. Don’t let it boil – you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Stir in the vanilla, cover and put in the fridge to cool overnight.

Clean and hull the strawberries. Chop half the berries into eighths or small bits. Puree the other half in a food processor. Combine the liquified berries and the chopped berries, and stir in the sugar, Kirsch, and lemon juice. Put in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until slightly reduced and shiny. Put in the fridge to cool overnight.

Run the cream mixture through the ice cream machine for about 30 minutes. At the end, pour in the cold strawberry mixture and the cacao nibs. Fold in by hand if necessary. Freeze for at least four hours before serving.