Last week the littles and I went strawberry picking. Strawberry season is short here in Pennsylvania, so we have to carpe diem if we want fresh local berries. And these pretty little strawberries are really, really sweet…so much better than what we buy at the grocery store.
I wanted to do something fun with my fresh berries, and while watering my garden I noticed how well my basil was growing. Then it came to me…Strawberry Basil Ice Cream! Two in-season local ingredients and one deliciously sweet result.
So I called my girl Lindsey. That chick makes homemade ice cream all the time. She’s sort of a guru. She also has a sweet ice cream maker.
I’ve got friends in high places.
I gathered my ingredients, loaded my offspring into the SUV, and hightailed it over to Lindsey’s casa.
Her youngest babe admired my freshly picked basil. Just look at that sweet little chin.
While our littles jumped on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath it (resulting in a wet and wild and mildly dangerous trampoline experience) and I did my best to allow them to enjoy the thrill of it and not freak out at the thought of head collisions and broken bones – Lindsey and I concocted a recipe for our ice cream.
We used a few of the recipes in this cookbook as inspiration:
Game plan in hand, we gathered some small helpers to hull the strawberries. Hulling strawberries simply means removing the green stem and leaves from the top of each berry.
Yes, our small children were permitted to use miniature dull-ish knives to hull the strawberries. Learn by doing, I say. It’s the old-fashioned way.
Baby Girl was exceptionally enthusiastic about the process.
Strawberries hulled, we cut the larger berries in half and then made a strawberry sauce. We put the strawberries into a square baking dish with one-third of a cup of sugar, and stirred to combine.
Then we popped the dish of berries into a 375 degree oven for eight minutes. After eight minutes, we removed the berries from the oven and let them cool slightly. Then we juiced three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and added the juice to the strawberries. Next we threw it all into the blender, pureeing it into some fantastically delicious strawberry sauce.
We could have just stopped there and slurped down the sauce with a straw – it was INSANELY YUMMY.
But onward we went, next starting the ice cream base. To make the base we used cornstarch, whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, light syrup and softened cream cheese.
First we created a slurry in a small bowl by combining one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of whole milk and stirring well.
Then we combined the remainder of the two cups of whole milk, one and one-quarter cups of heavy cream, two-thirds of a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of light syrup in a medium saucepan, bringing it all to a low rolling boil on medium-high heat. We left it at a low rolling boil for about four minutes, and then removed it from the heat and gradually stirred in the slurry. Then we returned the saucepan to the heat and while stirring, allowed the mixture to boil for one additional minute. Then we removed it from the heat.
Next we creamed three tablespoons of softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and then poured the hot liquid mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese.
We whisked until the cream cheese was well combined and the mixture was smooth.
Then we grabbed an even larger mixing bowl (or a small tub would do) and created an ice bath by filling it with cold water and ice.
After creating the ice bath, we poured the hot ice cream base mixture into a gallon-sized plastic storage bag. Then we tore the basil leaves into small-ish pieces and threw them into the bag along with the ice cream base. We sealed the bag well and submerged it in the ice bath, allowing the ice cream base to cool and the basil to steep for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, we strained out the basil leaves, turned on the ice cream maker, and poured the ice cream base into the machine.
Then we poured half of the strawberry syrup in with the ice cream base.
I want to lick my screen right now.
After the ice cream churned for 20 minutes, it was ready to go into jars.
Lindsey swirled some of the remaining strawberry sauce on top of the ice cream, and popped the jars into the freezer for a few hours.
Later that afternoon, our kids’ beloved preschool teacher stopped by so that we could celebrate her birthday with some freshly made Strawberry Basil Ice Cream.
Friends, sprinklers, trampolines, freshly picked strawberries and basil, tiny bare feet, handmade birthday cards, a visit from our favorite teacher and homemade ice cream…it’s the stuff that perfect summer days are made of.
FOR THE STRAWBERRY SAUCE:
1 pint strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
FOR THE ICE CREAM BASE:
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light syrup
3 tbsp. softened cream cheese
handful fresh basil leaves