Sunday, July 10, 2011

Desserts: Strawberry Cream Cheese-Sour Cream Ice Cream

Strawberry Cream Cheese-Sour Cream Ice Cream

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup half and half
½ cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 ounce plain vodka

• Cook strawberries down with sugar until syrupy and soft, and cool
• Combine cream cheese, ½ & ½, sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla & salt in food processor until smooth
• Combine cream cheese mixture with strawberry mixture in a bowl
• Chill in an ice cream maker, adding vodka at the very end
• Spoon into containers and freeze until firm

Detailed Instructions
Combine strawberries and sugar in a small saucepan (I used a 2qt). Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. This will take about 5 minutes. The strawberries will end up swimming in a light syrup. At no point do you want the syrup to boil (you could end up with strawberries in caramel if you do, which probably wouldn’t be horrible, but I haven’t tested that); if you start to see lots of bubbles, turn the heat down slightly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are soft, but not falling apart, another 3-5 minutes. Set aside and let cool until almost room temperature, about 10-25 minutes, while you make the cream cheese mixture. You don’t want it to be too warm when you add it to the ice cream maker, or it won’t set up properly.

In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and ½ & ½ and pulse until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the motor on, add the heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla, and salt and process until well combined and smooth. You’ll have a very thick liquid, kind of like melted ice cream.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese mixture and the strawberry mixture. Stir well to combine. In an ice cream maker (I have the kind with a cylinder and a motor base) add the ice cream mixture to the cylinder and chill according to manufacturer’s instructions (mine calls for letting it run for about 15 minutes). Don’t worry if it’s not really ice creamy—it will firm up nicely in the freezer. In the last minute before you turn off the ice cream maker, add the vodka and let it blend through the ice cream.

Spoon the chilled ice cream into containers (I just use disposable plastic ones) and chill in the freezer for 4-6 hours or until set to desired consistency. You can take it out and stir it from time to time (you have the opportunity to lick the spoon you use for this when you do it), and once it reaches the consistency that you like, you can serve it. Because of the vodka it won’t freeze solidly. The ice cream will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator. Eventually it will start to form ice crystals and ice chunks. Eat it before that happens. I’m not worried about that, to be honest.

This is not an ice cream in the classic sense. That is, it doesn’t start with a cooked custard base. That’s a plus for me—I don’t have the patience to wait for a custard to cool overnight in the refrigerator, which is why I seldom make ice cream. This recipe is largely attributable to my friend Julie Tiramisu (as I think of her—she has a real last name, but she also has a degree in Pastry, so I think of her as Julie Tiramisu).
I first made this for Mother’s Day as a cream cheese-ice cream mixture. When I described it to Julie, she said, “I’d put some sour cream in it, but that’s what I do—I tweak recipes.” I said, “Me too,” and made a mental note. I jotted down some changes in my recipe book along the lines of switching out some of the ½ & ½ in the original recipe for sour cream and moved on.

Then my neighbor gave me some strawberries from her patch, because they were just rotting on the vine, she said. While the first use for them that came to mind was strawberry daiquiris, the strawberry ice cream recipe seemed more family friendly, so I went with that. The berries weren’t terribly big, but they had big flavor, so I used them, making the changes I’d noted to the recipe when Julie T and I had talked.

There are only a few words appropriate to describe the result, and all of them should be followed with exclamation points. Wow! Incredible! Amazing! You get the idea. The sour cream makes the ice cream silky, while the cream cheese adds that lovely tang. You’d think that was the sour cream that added the flavor twist, but having had it made with and without, I can assure you it’s not the sour cream that adds the zing—that’s the cream cheese—while the sour cream changes the consistency. The sour cream makes it taste like liquid pink silk. If it were possible I’d have a dress made out of this stuff, it’s so beautiful.

It’s nice to have it in the freezer for any time, but I did serve it as dessert on Mother’s Day with great success. Because homemade ice cream is somewhat out of the ordinary, it makes a nice “special occasion” dessert. When I took some over to the woman who gave me the strawberries in the first place, her whole family said, “You made it? You made ice cream?” People just don’t expect it, but it’s easy with an ice cream maker, and with a base like this, that doesn’t require overnight chilling, it’s right up my (impatient) alley.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Awesome!

Alejandra said...

Oh wow! This looks gorgeous.