Descent Into Homemade Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Last weekend I overcame my fear of a freezer stuffed with ice cream tempting me every time I passed through the kitchen. Instead of padlocking my freezer, I decided to embrace my food anxiety and took the leap into ice cream maker ownership. It’s not a lack of love for ice cream that’s the problem here. With a need to monitor my sugar intake, ice cream is one of many sweet treats that I’ve had to enjoy in moderation during the last few years.

Will owning an ice cream machine lead me down a dark path to sugar coma? Only time will tell, but with our home’s indoor temperature hovering at 80 degrees F, I’ve been in the market for crafty ways to complement the heat with some cold refreshments. I could install an air conditioner, but they don’t taste nearly as good as a bowl of ice cream. Besides, if you’ve read my posts from earlier this year, an a/c is not a necessity for Front Range Coloradans since most of the time, it’s an ice box here.

After a week of product research, I settled on the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker. With gift card in hand, I headed to a nearby Williams and Sonoma and snapped up one of the last ice cream makers on the shelf, ensuring my salvation or doom for under $30. If you’re buying your first ice cream maker completely out of pocket, you may want to start with a less expensive model. (If you have a $30 or less ice cream maker that you love, please share in the comments section for homemade ice cream making newbies.)

My ice cream maker includes two freezer bowls so that if you’re feeling reckless, you can make two consecutive batches. I did need to freeze the bowl for 24 hours before making the recipe shared below, but that wait afforded me time to seek out the number one super best ice cream recipe to make.

Last summer I raved about the glory that is strawberry-vinegar caramel sauce. Drizzled over vanilla ice cream, the richness of the ice cream is nicely balanced with the tanginess of the sauce. As one of my ice cream bowls chilled in the freezer (I wasn’t feeling that reckless), I scrolled through online recipes that combined those flavors into a perfect ice cream. Bi-Rite Creamery’s Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream recipe to the rescue.

Making homemade ice cream will almost always take you more than 20 minutes from start to finish (Cuisinart marketing ploy be damned!), but after prepping the ingredients, the actual churning was a breeze. In the not-so-distant past, if you wanted homemade ice cream, you were going to get an arm workout. Now, with a flip of a switch, the machine takes over and does a better job than I ever could. (May it never gain artificial intelligence.)

Once the ice cream has churned, I transferred it to an airtight container and slid the container in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up. Unless you’re up for buying high-end ice cream at the store, you’re not going to get commercial-grade big brand ice cream with the same freshness and quality as your homemade version. Seriously, this ice cream is delicious.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
Image by author.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
(a Bi-Rite Creamery recipe)
Makes about 1 quart

For the strawberry purée:
– 1-1/2 pints strawberries (3 cups), preferably organic, hulled and halved or quartered
– 2-1/2 TBS white sugar
– 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

For the base:

– 5 large egg yolks
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1-3/4 cups heavy cream
– 3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
– 1/4 tsp kosher salt
– 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Cook the berries:
1. Combine the berries with the 2-1/2 TBS sugar and 2 tsp vinegar in a large nonreactive skillet. Put the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid they release has reduced somewhat, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Let cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the base:
3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of sugar (1/4 cup). Set aside.

4. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.

5. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the remaining cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.

6. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

7. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Freeze the ice cream:
8. Whisk the strawberry purée and the remaining 2 tsp. vinegar into the chilled base.

9. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, transfer to the chilled container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. OMG! You and I did almost exactly the same thing this week. I bought the same maker! I did strawberries with coconut cream to make it vegan (because you know how I am), but last summer I recall enjoying a strawberry balsamic jam. What a great combination! I’ll be sharing my ice cream after I really figure out what I’m doing😉 Thanks for sharing!

    1. gwynnem says:

      I’m smitten with my ice cream maker now. Just tried a maple walnut ice cream yesterday, and it turned out great, too. 🙂

      1. That’s so awesome! Maple walnut is one of my favorite combos!

  2. Sophie33 says:

    I am so going to make your delicious home-made ice-cream with fresh juicy ripe strawberries from my own garden! Yummy! 🙂

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thanks, Sophie33. You can’t get much fresher than from your own garden. 🙂

  3. chef mimi says:

    Very very interesting! What does the balsamic vinegar do or taste like in the base?

    1. gwynnem says:

      From what I understand, strawberries tend to lose their tartness when they go into ice cream, so the acid helps maintain the tang, which is a good thing to keep ice cream from being too cloying with sweetness. I like the balsamic vinegar over lemon juice or white rice vinegar. Something about its flavor just works perfectly with strawberries.

  4. I have had an ice cream maker sitting in the basement for a year now, I think I need to get it out and give this a try. I’ve always heard balsamic goes well with berries but I would have never thought to put it into ice cream

    1. gwynnem says:

      It’s so good, Veronica. I highly recommend it. 🙂

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth!

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