Monday, June 8, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream & Almond Shortbread Cookies

Who doesn't scream for ice cream? I love Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Dazs ice cream, you bet! I've made my own ice cream, and it's been good-- but nothing that made the eyes in the back of my head roll back and say "mmmmmmmmm"...until now!

I bought David Lebovitz's book "The Perfect Scoop", but this recipe does not come from this beautiful book. I have bookmarked a lot of recipes from that book, to make in the future. This recipe was adapted, by little ole me--by reading quite a few recipes in various places. I've made simple ice cream recipes with ho-hum results-- to me, it's more like "ice milk". I wanted creaminess and more, I decided that I wanted to make a cooked egg custard. I had a beautiful carton of fresh eggs, from my local produce place "The Farm" (I can say hello to the happy little hens, anytime I want to) that I bought for $2.50 a dozen. How sweet is that?!

I did not want to work with a double-boiler, like so many recipe instructions were written to do.
Why? I think it's a nuisance, really-- unless I'm making hollandaise, and that's once a year. I recently used my microwave to heat milk, when making Ina Garten's pastry cream, and it worked like a charm. So that's what I did!

Before I jump in to how to make this recipe, let me share with you my personal feelings about making desserts. There are times when I don't worry about calories or fat. If I do, then I tend to make fruit sorbets, which are easy and delicious. When it comes to ice cream, I'm not going to fool around! If you want to tinker with this, and use fat-free milk, then knock yourself out (and let me know if it was as good as my version). "Portion control" comes into play, with this recipe. Since both my husband and son are lean and don't gain weight, I don't have to worry about me eating too much...they're piranhas, so all I have to ask is for them to polish it off. This helps my willpower-- though I might whimper a bit.

Ready? Here we go:

Step #1: Egg yolks, sugar and pure vanilla are whisked together
Step #2: Once the cream and whole milk were hot (but not boiling), it was slowly whisked into th egg mixture.
Step #3: The cream and egg mixture is poured into a pot, onto direct heat (use a double-boiler if that makes you more comfortable.

This is where you must be patient! You can't leave the stove, for a minute-- no matter what. I continued to stir and stir...and daydream... and it took about 15 minutes before my custard began to thicken. I never let it boil, tempting as it was! It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

The custard was put into a metal bowl, covered with plastic wrap and chilled for about 4 hours (actually a bit more than that because I ran errands).

Now, for the beautiful strawberries! These are beauties, that I buy freshly picked for $2.00 a basket... organically grown. How spoiled am I to have "The Farm" 2 miles away from me?

Once they were hulled and washed, I mashed them and I decided to add a little "secret ingredient":
Amaretto! My son is college age, so it's fine for me to add a little booze! I love almond "anything", and I have to say that the berries tasted fantastic. I think I splashed in, oh, about 2 Tablespoons. Next time, I think I'll use was pretty subtle-- not at all like my personality!

Half of the mashed berries were set into a covered container and placed in the fridge.
The other half, I decided to puree. I love shortcuts (if you haven't noticed), so I used my $20.00 immersion blender and that saved me a lot of cleanup! My cheap immersion blender has faithfully served my needs (for making creamed soups, too) for 15 years! What a bargain, eh?

I decided not to strain out the seeds, because they don't bother any of us. You can, if you want.

Five hours later, it was time to churn the ice cream-- I use a Hamilton Beach ice cream maker where the canister stays in my garage upright freezer all the time-- no salt or ice needed. Oh, I bought it for $10.00 on a closeout deal at my grocery store. It has also been very faithful to me.

I mixed the custard and pureed strawberries together, and turned on the machine BEFORE adding the custard (a little trick I learned). It took about 15 minutes to get pretty thick, and that's when I added the chopped strawberries.

My little ice cream maker started to sound like it was working overtime, so I turned it off and look what I saw!

How creamy and pretty does this look, I ask you? OMG! This tastes great.

I have found the best recipe for creamy homemade ice cream. Cooking the custard is well worth the effort-- please believe me.
NOTE: The following day, after the ice cream had been frozen (and half eaten) for 24 hours, it was perfect! Solid, but still creamy and not icy.

Now what goes well with strawberries? Strawberry shortcake... strawberry... shortbread! I scoured the internet to find a recipe and then I just went with my own instinct. I wanted a simple recipe to compliment this dessert. Presenting--

Almond Shortbread Cookies! These are so easy, with simple ingredients:

Butter, sugar, flour and almond extract (or vanilla). Here's the trick, though...
I read the comments for this recipe, and people complained that there was too much flour, and that they had to cut back or add liquid. They just weren't patient enough. Using my trusty Kitchen Aid Standmixer (I don't recommend trying to make this dough by hand, unless you are into lifting weights), I let the beater do the work. Sure enough, the dough looked crumbly, but I kept hoping-- and the dough all came together. I did chill it for about 30 minutes, then rolled it out...

These were baked at 325F for about 20 minutes; then sprinkled lightly with sugar.

These remind me of the Almond Biscuits I used to buy at Marks & Spencer in London (which I've visited many times, back in the day). M&S stopped carrying these, so I'm happy I can recreate them. Yummy!

These complimented the ice cream, but would also be lovely with a cup of tea.

My imagination is running wild with all the ice cream flavors I can make with this ice cream base. Both the ice cream and shortbread cookies are keepers!

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Sophie said...

It does look quite pretty! Perfect idea to serve this with the shortbread too.

finsmom said...

What a perfect summertime dessert!

Monica H said...

This looks like the perfect scoop! I bought this book too but I haven't made anything from it yet. We have a basic vanilla recipe handed down from my husband's late grandmother. It's very good but it's icy. I prefer creamy but that's how my hubbylikes it.

You could make ice cream sandwiches with the cookies and ice cream together. Your shortbread looks lovely too!

Kristen said...

bless you for having the patience to do that! wonderful!

Kerstin said...

Wow, your strawberry ice cream looks incredible (along with those farm fresh eggs!)! Love the cookies with it too.

Donna-FFW said...

I think this is the most tastiest dessert Ive seen all month! It looks fabulous! That ice cream , oh that ice cream!! Perfect xhoice to serve with the shortbread.

cali chic said...

for the cookies could I use a hand mixer? (btw your description of the ice cream makes me want to go out and buy an ice cream machine, yum!)

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Yes, you can use a handmixer, but the dough is very deceiving. It looks very crumbly and you will be very tempted to add liquid to it.
If you mix by hand, it will take a lot of elbow grease!


Culinary Wannabe said...

Amaretto! That's just brilliant. I bet it really added flavor. And the ice cream looks so pretty and rich and creamy. I could eat a bowl for breakfast! And I like how you have a "built in portion control system." I think we could all use men like that around the house to help keep us in check!

putra said...

thanks for share your recipe, i love it.